Alberta has declared a state of public health emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As recommended by health officials, if you choose to participate in events outside of your home, please adhere to COVID-19 health and safety measures, including proper physical distancing, mask-wearing, and frequent handwashing. Additionally, be aware that many businesses and events may be participating in the Restrictions Exemption Program and will require proof of vaccine or a negative, privately paid COVID-19 test. If you are sick, please stay home.
Snow has officially arrived in YYC, and it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in the city.
With the first full week of December now upon us, there are tons of things to do in Calgary to help you get in the festive spirit, whether you want to get outside or opt to stay cozy indoors.
Shop local at a holiday market, catch some live theatre, visit an indoor Christmas light display, sample local brews against a mountain backdrop at the Banff Craft Beer Festival, and much, much more.
Here are 23 of the best things to do in and around Calgary this week.
What: Join Calgary’s country angel Robert Adam and nostalgic country-folk act Amy Nelson at the King Eddy for a not-to-be-missed double-header bill and a toy drive for Inn From the Cold.
When: December 10
Time: 8:30 pm
Where: King Eddy (438 9th Avenue SE, Calgary)
Cost: Tickets are $10 if you choose to bring a toy to donate, or $15 without a toy
What: This December, shop over 240 local makers, bakers, growers, and small business shakers at The Saskatoon Farm. The Christmas market takes place both indoors and outside, and you’ll find everything from savoury goods and house-made sweets to local candles and homewares to children’s items and Bonfires To Go.
When: December 10, 11, and 12
Time: 9 am to 5 pm
Where: The Saskatoon Farm (#20 – 80181 338 Avenue E, Foothills County)
Cost: $7; advanced tickets required for entry
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What: Hop on the Polar Express train at Aspen Crossing and journey to the North Pole, complete with hot cocoa, cookies, and characters from the movie. As the journey begins, passengers will be entertained by a reading of The Polar Express, and once you get to the “North Pole,” you’ll be greeted by Santa himself, and each child will receive their own sleigh bell, just like in the movie.
Where: Box 30, Mossleigh, Alberta (one kilometre west of Mossleigh on Highway #24)
When: Starting the last weekend of November, and throughout December. For available dates and times, visit website for details
Cost: Available online now, starting at $66.67 per guest
What: Uncategorizable star Isabella Rossellini is coming to Calgary! Enjoy an evening event with live music to celebrate Rossellini, and explore major milestones, connecting the dots between her career and life. Rossellini is also a science filmmaker, and she is the narrator of TELUS Spark’s Every Second Counts digital immersion gallery. Join Rossellini and actor and dancer Denise Clarke for this 75-minute show.
When: December 9
Time: Doors open at 6:30 pm, show starts at 7:30 pm
Where: TELUS Spark Science Centre
What: For more than 50 years, The Sound of Music has been delighting audiences all over the globe, and the show will return to the StoryBook Theatre stage for another visit this holiday season. Watch the journey of the Von Trapp family and listen to classics like “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” “My Favourite Things,” “Do Re Mi,” and “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.” In-person tickets have already sold out, but you can catch the show virtually from December 10 to 30.
When: December 10 to 30
Time: Various times available; check schedule for more details
Where: Streamed online from wherever you are
Cost: $30 per streaming device
What: The National Music Centre’s Bell Live series features jazz saxophonist and singer/songwriter Perpie performing this Saturday. Raised in Nigeria and now based in Calgary, Perpie expressively weaves pieces of her life’s experiences and dreams into her awe-inspiring music, and she has toured as the official saxophonist with TerraKulture for the extended productions of Saro and Wakaa in London.
When: December 11
Time: 8:30 pm
Where: The King Eddy (438 9th Avenue SE, Calgary)
Cost: No cover charge
What: Downstage’s Climate Change Theatre Action presents a live staged-reading of short plays about climate change followed by a panel discussion, tackling the challenging conversation around climate change and tapping into the creative minds of playwrights from around the world to envision possibilities for our future. Upon entry to the Engineered Air Theatre, audience members will also be able to shop for handmade goods and art pieces from immigrant makers who reside and create on Treaty 7 land.
When: December 9 and 10
Time: 7:30 pm
Where: Engineered Air Theatre, Arts Commons (205 8th Avenue SE, Calgary)
Cost: $20 to $40
What: TELUS Spark Science Centre is brightening up the holidays with Sparkle Sparkle, an incredible indoor light display boasting thousands of LED lights, all arranged to create a magical (and warm) winter experience and plenty of Instagram-worthy photo ops.
At 5:30 pm on select days between November 25 and January 2, the science centre transforms into a twinkling wonderland, featuring a glowing LED fire to “warm up” near, a massive shimmering winter palace, and more.
When: Wednesday through Sunday from November 25 to December 19, daily from December 20 to January 2 (closed December 24, 25, and 31)
Time: 5:30 to 9:30 pm
Where: TELUS Spark Science Centre (220 St. George’s Drive NE, Calgary)
Tickets: $19 for adults, $13 for youth (ages three to 17)
What: A Christmas Carol is always a holiday classic, and you can carry on the tradition this year with Theatre Calgary’s performance of the iconic tale. Follow the journey of Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, and the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future this season.
When: November 30 to December 24 (or view it online from December 2 to 31)
Time: Varies by performance; see schedule for dates and times
Where: Max Bell Theatre, Arts Commons (205 8th Avenue SE, Calgary)
Cost: Tickets starting at $48, or $30 per household for virtual access
What: Stay cozy and warm in your car while getting in the festive spirit. Drive through stunning displays of Christmas lights at Spruce Meadows without having to set foot outside during Calgary’s chilly winter evenings.
When: Friday through Sunday from December 10, 2021, to January 2, 2022 (closed on Christmas Day)
Time: 5 to 10 pm
Where: Spruce Meadows (18011 Spruce Meadows Way SW, Calgary)
What: Visit Granary Road’s Christmas market for an enchanting holiday celebration. Find Christmas carols playing throughout the market, beautifully decorated trees, strings upon strings of Christmas lights, and other festive décor, making Granary Road a destination for Christmas shoppers, foodies, and families alike.
For added fees, visitors can take photos with Santa and with the attraction’s alpacas, a wagon ride, s’more making, breakfast with Santa, and a class in Santa’s workshop.
When: Saturdays and Sundays from November 27 to December 19
Time: 9 am to 5 pm
Where: Granary Road (226066 112th Street West, Calgary)
Cost: Free admission to the market
View the Naughty… but Nice! Vaccin8! show
What: Naughty… but Nice! Vaccin8! is back with some new songs, a new cast, and a lot of your old favourites from years past. Stream the performance from the comfort of your own couch and experience the 2021 Rosie Award-winning show for yourself.
When: December 3 to 19
Time: 8 pm Wednesday through Sunday and at 2 pm on Saturdays
What: Once Upon a Christmas at Heritage Park offers ten days of entertainment and activity full of old-fashioned Christmas charm. In addition to family favourites like the Kids Only Store and visits with Santa, this year’s event introduces the Roundhouse Christmas Market, featuring unique gift items from local artisans and vendors.
The event includes glimpses into historical celebrations of Chanukah, Christmas, Boxing Day and Hogmanay – a Scottish New Year tradition – through decorations of the Park’s historical homes, theatrical performances, radio plays, woodcarving demonstrations and roaming carolers. Plus, guests who reserve a family-friendly breakfast buffet at the Wainwright Hotel or Gunn’s Dairy Barn will receive a discount on admission.
When: Saturdays and Sundays from December 4 to 19, and daily from December 20 to 23
Time: 10 am to 4 pm
Where: 1900 Heritage Drive SW, Calgary
Tickets: $19.95 for adults, $14.95 for children
What: It doesn’t get much better than sipping a cold brew against a mountain backdrop. Held partially outdoors, the Banff Craft Beer Festival allows you to sample delicious Alberta-made craft beer and spirits along the reconstructed and reimagined Bear Street, which now boasts a pedestrian plaza feel.
When: December 9, 10, and 11
Time: Varies by date; check event listing for details
Where: 212 Bear Street, Banff
Tickets: $29.99 for admission, additional cost for sample tokens
What: Get ready to shop (local) till you drop and celebrate the return of Market Collective’s massive in-person event this December! The beloved market is known for offering a landing place for all things local, from talented artists and makers to innovative Calgary businesses and live music to food and beverage. This year’s winter market will run over two weekends in December to help you get all your holiday shopping in and support small makers at the same time.
When: December 10 to 12 and 17 to 19
Time: 4 to 9 pm on Friday, 10 am to 6 pm on Saturday and Sunday
Where: BMO Centre Hall B + C (20 Round Up Way SE, Calgary)
Admission: $6 for the weekend
What: Pursuit’s latest experience, Nightrise, combines multimedia, storytelling, and nature at the Banff Gondola for an immersive, multi-sensory journey like no other. The event will bring light and sound together to share a new and inspiring perspective in the heart of the Rockies. At Sulphur Mountain’s peak, guests can explore the many levels of the summit building and enjoy Rockies-inspired eats and drinks. Outside on the viewing decks, guests will discover wonders that only emerge as the night begins to rise.
When: December 2, 2021, to March 12, 2022
Time: Gondola upload time slots between 5:10 and 8:10 pm
Where: Banff Gondola (100 Mountain Avenue, Banff)
Tickets: Starting at $56 for adults
What: Fort Calgary has launched Otipemisiwak, an exhibition of contemporary visual art, to celebrate Métis Week (November 14 to 20) and remaining on display until June 2022. The exhibit showcases recent works by , a visual artist and plant scientist, using a photo-based technique that mirrors spectacular traditional Métis beading.
When: November 19, 2021, to June 26, 2022
Time: Fort Calgary hours (currently 11 am to 6 pm Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays)
Where: Fort Calgary (750 9th Avenue SE, Calgary)
Cost: $10 for general admission to Fort Calgary, or free for youth age 17 and under and First Nations, Métis, and Inuit community members
What: Beyond Van Gogh has extended its immersive exhibit in Calgary for a final time, giving you one last chance to “Gogh” check it out before the end of the year. Get up close and personal with Van Gogh’s work through larger-than-life projections of his paintings. To round out this experience of the senses, the exhibit is accompanied by the artist’s own words, set to a symphonic score.
When: On now until December 31
Time: Varies by day; timed reservations available online
Where: The BMO Centre on Stampede Park (20 Roundup Way SE)
Tickets: Starting at $33.99 for adults, available now
What: A Calgary favourite, ZOOLIGHTS transforms the zoo into a magical winter wonderland. Check out this event for all the family-friendly fun and Christmas vibes from November 19 to January 2.
When: November 19, 2021, to January 2, 2022
Time: 5 to 9 pm
Where: Calgary Zoo (210 St. George’s Drive NW, Calgary)
Cost: $21.95 for general admission, $14.95 for children
What: Want to get cultured without leaving the house? Incredible works from the winners of this year’s BMO 1st Art! competition are available to view virtually from anywhere through the Art Museum at the University of Toronto. See national winner Anna Kuelken’s Father Like Son piece, along with works by 12 regional winners from across Canada.
When: November 16 to December 8
Where: View online virtually through the Art Museum at the University of Toronto
What: East Village is bringing snuggly vibes to Calgary with the return of its popular Hygge Hut this winter. The Scandinavian-style seasonal pop-up opened this past weekend in a new location, and it’s bigger and better than ever this year. Visitors will find the Hygge Hut in C-Square, at 4th Street and 7th Avenue SE with fire pits to warm up by, food trucks, live music, ice sculptures, and games, along with a jam-packed schedule of other community programming.
When: November 12, 2021, to March 2022
Time: Fires lit on Fridays from 2 to 7 pm and Saturdays, Sundays, and stat holidays from noon to 6 pm (weather permitting)
Where: C-Square (4th Street and 7th Avenue SE, Calgary)
Cost: FREE community programming
Find Christmas Downtown celebrations at the CORE Shopping Centre
What: Downtown Calgary’s CORE Shopping Centre will feature a variety of festive events and activations this season. Highlights include live musical performances, a 45-foot Christmas tree, photo ops with Santa, and a 24-day countdown calendar of giveaways on Instagram. The CORE will also bring back its stunning 1959 GMC vintage truck, creating a sought-after Instagrammable backdrop for Calgary shoppers.
When: November 26 to December 31
Time: The shopping centre is open 11 am to 5 pm Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 pm on Sundays
Where: The CORE Shopping Centre – second level glass bridge (324 8th Avenue SW, Calgary)
Cost: The CORE’s holiday celebrations are free to partake in; however, the shopping centre is collecting monetary donations and items on behalf of The Mustard Seed
Visit Santa at Southcentre’s Enchanted Forest
What: Book a visit with Santa for a physically distanced photo at Southcentre Mall’s Enchanted Forest from November 13 to December 24. A special North Pole mailbox will also be available for children to send their holiday wish lists and letters to Mr. Claus. It’s important to note that to ensure physical distancing all visits with Santa must be booked in advance.
Additionally, from Monday to Saturday between November 13 and December 24, children with sensory sensitivities and mobility issues can experience the magic of visiting Santa from 9:30 to 10 am in a sensory-friendly environment. These visits must also be booked in advance.
Want your furry friend to get in on the festive fun too? From Monday to Saturday between November 13 and December 24, owners are invited to bring their pets to experience a “Paws with Claus” for a pre-booked photo opportunity with Santa from 8 to 9 pm.
When: November 13 to December 24
Time: 10 am to 8 pm
Where: Southcentre Mall (100 Anderson Road SE, Calgary)
Cost: Photo prices starting at $7