35 Best Things to Do in Calgary This December
This month, check out a giant gingerbread house, go to a yoga class in the Calgary Tower and ring in the new year with fireworks. Plus, cram more of the holiday spirit into your month with 25 of Calgary's most iconic festive activities.
With Christmas and New Year's Eve, December is a big month. There are tons of holiday activities to check out in Calgary (we've highlighted 25 of Calgary's most iconic ones here), as well as some less Christmas-centric things to do for when you need a break from all the holiday cheer.
Here are our 35 suggestions for a busy December.
Listen to the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra’s production of Handel’s Messiah or sing-along with the choir and orchestra at the final performance.
When: December 1 and 2, Sing-along Messiah December 3
Cost: $25 to $85
Jack Singer Concert Hall, Arts Commons, 403-571-0849, calgaryphil.com
Fill your belly with lots of European holiday treats
Savour authentic European holiday treats such as imported German lebkuchen (a soft gingerbread-like cookie) and marzipan pigs and sheep from Edelweiss Village; imported or house-made panettone from the Italian Centre Shop and bûche de Noel from local Belgian baker Manuel Latruwe.
Edelweiss Imports, 1921 20 Ave. N.W., 403-282-6600, edelweissimports.com; Italian Centre Shop, 9919 Fairmount Dr. S.E., 403-238-4869, italiancentre.ca; Manuel Latruwe, 1333 1 St. S.E., 403-261-1092, manuellatruwe.com
photograph courtesy of spruce meadows media
Get the feeling of strolling through a holiday market in Europe at this annual holiday market (you may even spot some reindeer).
When: December 1 to 3
Spruce Meadows, 403-974-4200, sprucemeadows.com
Find locally made gifts such as unique artworks and jewellery pieces and handmade mittens, while enjoying live music.
When: December 1 to 3, 8 to 10 and 15 to 17
Cost: $5 weekend admission; kids free
Inglewood Warehouse, 1390 17th Ave. S.E., marketcollective.ca
Watch a musical or theatrical take on A Charlie Brown Christmas
Enjoy A Charlie Brown Christmas two ways: hear the music performed live by a jazz trio led by the original soundtrack’s drummer Jerry Granelli and watch Storybook Theatre’s performance of the stage version as part of a double feature with You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.
Enjoy both savoury and sweet holiday dishes at the Fairmont Palliser’s famous spread.
When: Daily, December 4 to 22
Cost: $44 adults; $22 kids; $35 senior
Grab a cocktail on 1 Street S.W. on the anniversary of the end of Prohibition
Dec. 5, 1933 was a great day — it's the day that Prohibition ended in the United States after more than a decade. Now, on Dec. 5, 2017, a dozen local restaurants and bars along 1 Street S.W. will be offering special featured cocktails to mark the occasion (check out the #repealdayyyc hashtag on Instagram for more details). Participating restaurants include The Beltliner, Foreign Concept, Mill Street Brew Pub, Shelter, Ten Foot Henry and more.
When: December 5
Find crafty stocking stuffers and gifts by more than 250 Canadian makers at this popular holiday market.
When: December 7 to 10
Cost: $7 adults, ages 17 and under free
BMO Centre, Stampede Park, 613-241-5777, festivalofcrafts.ca
photograph courtesy of spruce meadows media
Jog off the holiday ’nog beneath row upon row of twinkling lights at this five-kilometre fun run out at Spruce Meadows.
When: December 8
Cost: $50 to $70
Spruce Meadows, 403-974-4200, sprucemeadows.com
If you happen to be walking by the Fairmont Palliser this month, pop in to check out the giant gingerbread house in the hotel's lobby. The house is so big, you can actually walk into it. It has a waffle roof, gingerbread walls and candy decorations ranging from gummy bears to suckers. Be sure to bring a donation for the Calgary Drop-in Centre and the Calgary Food Bank.
When: Until January 2
Cost: Free with a monetary or non-perishable food donation.
Fairmont Palliser, 133 9 Ave. S.W.
The Alberta Craft Council has opened a new gallery and shop in the cSPACE King Edward Building, and it's full of beautiful Alberta-made crafts. Stop by to check out glasswork, ceramics, furniture and more by artists such as Kari Woo, Laura Sharp and Kenton Jeske.
280, 1721 29 Ave. S.W., cSPACE King Edward Building, albertacraft.ab.ca
December is a notoriously busy month for shopping centres. Whether you're going to do some shopping, to take your children to visit Santa or to get some presents gift wrapped, you can make your visit go more smoothly by planning ahead. Here's everything you need to know about shopping at Calgary malls this Christmas.
photograph by kristopher grunert
Catch this music and lights show aboard a real working train, featuring performances by Alan Doyle and the Beautiful Band, with Colin James.
When: December 9, 6:45 pm
Cost: Food bank donations accepted
Anderson C-Train Station, South C-Train parking lot, cpr.ca
Go on a downtown walking-skating tour
photograph by kristy reimer
Do a self-guided downtown walking-skating tour. Begin with a skate at Olympic Plaza, then enjoy the light displays as you walk up Stephen Avenue, stop into The Core Shopping Centre to marvel at the 45-foot tree, then walk through the light display at McDougall Centre before finishing with another skate at Prince’s Island Lagoon.
When: Throughout December, weather dependent
Olympic Plaza, 228 8 Ave. S.E.; McDougall Centre, 455 6 St. S.W.
Wear your favourite hockey jersey or holiday sweater to the Calgary Civic Symphony’s Icetime show, featuring Roch Carrier’s reading his book The Hockey Sweater and winter classics performed by the symphony.
When: December 10
Cost: $24 to $30
Jack Singer Concert Hall, Arts Commons, 403-294-9494, artscommons.ca
[Correction: This event listing previously stated that the event included a recorded reading. In fact, Roch Carrier will be at the event for a live reading of his book.]
Festivals aren't just for summer. Northwestival, a new festival taking place on December 10, celebrates all things winter. The festival will feature winter workshops on topics like making wreaths, a sugar shack, a s'mores station, a "magic music tree" and more.
When: December 10 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Cost: Free with a non-perishable food donation.
4410 University Ave. N.W., myuniversitydistrict.ca
One way that Calgarians can give back this holiday season is through The Calgary Shoebox Project gift drive. Calgarians can fill a shoebox with small presents that range from gift cards to hair products to candy. Then, they'll be given to women in need in Calgary.
When: The shoebox drive goes until December 11
Where: Completed shoeboxes can be brought to the Dream office (410 1167 Kensington Cres. N.W.)
photograph by paul mcgrath, courtesy of alberta ballet
Be dazzled by Alberta Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker, choreographed by artist-in-residence Edmund Stripe.
When: December 15 to 17 and 21 to 24
Cost: $35 to $144
Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, 1415 14 Ave. N.W., 403-245-4222, albertaballet.com
Local yoga studio My Yoga Calgary is taking yoga to new heights during its Calgary Tower Winter Solstice night. From 8 p.m. to 9:15 p.m., yogis will fill the Tower's observation deck for a 75-minute yoga class. This is the second year this event has taken place.
When: December 21
Calgary Tower, 101 9 Ave. S.W., myyogacalgary.com
Local arts collective Buds of Buds is taking window art to the next level. Local artists have covered six downtown windows with beautiful, winter-themed paintings. When you use the Augle app on your phone, the paintings then become animated your the screen thanks to augmented reality technology. For a full list of window locations, visit budsofbuds.com.
When: All of December
Ride a sleigh, catch a Christmas play and purchase (and decorate) gingerbread cookies — all part of the holiday festivities at Heritage Park.
When: Saturdays and Sundays until December 23
Cost: Regular park admission rates apply
1900 Heritage Dr. S.W., 403-268-8500, heritagepark.ca
Laugh (and cringe) at the misadventures of a department-store elf in this one-man stage show based on the story by David Sedaris.
When: Mondays through Saturdays until December 23
Cost: $26 adults, $21 students and seniors
Lunchbox Theatre, 160 9 Ave. S.E., 403-265-4292, lunchboxtheatre.com
Go ice skating when the weather gets cold enough
photograph courtesy of the city of calgary
Go for a glide on the Bowness Park Lagoon followed by hot cider or cocoa by the fire pits — you can bring your own in a thermos or grab some from the Seasons of Bowness Park café.
When: All winter (weather permitting)
Cost: Free to skate, gear rentals available
8900 48 Ave. N.W., 403-268-2489
Pre-order your beverage at Theatre Calgary’s A Christmas Carol so it’s waiting for you at intermission.
When: Until December 24
Cost: Tickets $35 to $120
Max Bell Theatre, Arts Commons, 403-294-7447, theatrecalgary.com
Cococo Chocolatiers’ five-month kirsch-soaked, hand-dipped, limited-run chocolate cherries are the ultimate holiday indulgence. Available during December while supplies last.
Cost: $33 small box; $66 large box
Wander through wintry Prince’s Island Park then reward yourself with a fireside meal at River Café. Restaurant closed December 24 and 25
25 Prince’s Island Park S.W., 403-261-7670, river-cafe.com
Stroll through the section of Confederation Park that borders 14 Street N.W. to take in the largest free light display of its kind in the city.
When: Nightly until January 7
2490 14 St. N.W., 403-282-3299, lionsfestivaloflights.ca
Go hunting for a Christmas tree
photograph by sandra jiggins, courtesy of AJFWA
Cut down your own Christmas tree using one of the following three methods (in order of adventurousness): take a road trip to Raven Ridge Tree Farm near Rocky Mountain House, Alta., which also sells wreaths and lights; visit the Junior Forest Wardens Association tree lot just off Highway 68 on the Powderface Trail; or get a permit from Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, then grab your saw and venture out on approved crown lands.
Spend a relaxing night at the Post in Lake Louise — named one of the world’s top 10 most beautiful ski lodges by CNN Travel News.
200 Pipestone Rd., Lake Louise, 403-522-3989, posthotel.com
Visit the southeast community of Legacy to see the Legacy Light Parade, which includes more than 100,000 lights and Christmas displays in the parks and on the houses. Take a drive through the neighbourhood, or park and explore on foot. There’s also an outdoor rink.
When: Until January 8
Make a wish on the wish tree after a stroll through the light displays.
When: Nightly in December (except December 25)
Cost: $15 adult; $12 child; $23 senior
Calgary Zoo, 210 St. George’s Drive N.E., 403-232-9300, calgaryzoo.com
Treat your neighbours to some holiday baking
Spread Christmas cheer by shovelling your neighbours’ sidewalks or baking and delivering your favourite holiday treat.
Société Coffee Lounge is the Beltline's newest coffee shop. While there are lots of reasons to visit this cool spot, one of the most interesting things it offers is latte flights. You can get one or two kinds of espresso made a few different ways and brought to you all at the same time on a wooden serving board. It's a different way to get your coffee fix this month.
1223 11 Ave. S.W., 403-474-6055, societecoffee.ca
Spend some time giving back by volunteering
Do good and give back by serving food at the Calgary Drop-In Centre. Call ahead to reserve a time.
1 Dermot Baldwin Way S.E., 403-266-3600, calgarydropin.ca
Take the whole family downtown on December 31 to partake in the City of Calgary's New Year's Eve activities. In addition to a family dance party in the Calgary Municipal Building, there will be an outdoor celebration at Olympic Plaza with musical performances, dancing, a ball drop and fireworks. It'll be a memorable way to spend the last day of the year.
When: December 31
Calgary Municipal Building, 800 Macleod Tr. S.W.; Olympic Plaza, 228 8 Ave. S.E., calgary.ca