25 Best Things To Do This December
This month, try a waffle with mint ice cream, peppermint whipped cream and crushed candy canes, decorate your own ugly Christmas sweater, meet a Cinderella from Calgary and give back to charity.
Treat yourself to a seasonal Peppermint Mocha Village waffle from Buttermilk this month.
Photograph courtesy of Buttermilk Fine Waffles
December in Calgary is the month for Christmas treats, seasonal music and theatre performances and seeing those museum exhibits you haven’t gotten a chance to see yet.
Here are our 25 suggestions for a memorable December.
There’s a new, temporary exhibition open at Studio Bell. Tom Cochrane fans will love it — and chances are, it’s going to create some new Tom Cochrane fans, too. The exhibition includes a variety of awards that Cochrane won, his guitars, including the 1963 Gretsch guitar you will recognize from the “Big League” music video, and a few artifacts, like costumes. You have until April 30 to learn all about the man behind “Life is a Highway.”
Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre, 850 4 St. S.E., 403-543-5115, studiobell.ca
George Bailey wishes he had never been born. That’s a depressing wish at any time, but especially on Christmas Eve. Clarence the Angel grants his wish, and shows him what his hometown and family would be like if he hadn’t been around to influence them. If you’re already familiar with George’s story, know that Lunchbox Theatre presents it in an entirely new way. This version of It’s a Wonderful Life is set in a 1940s radio studio, so it’s pretty much a live radio play. The show runs until December 21.
Lunchbox Theatre, 115 9 Ave. S.E., 403-265-4292, lunchboxtheatre.com
The Calgary-based jewellery designer Kate Hewko opened a brick-and-mortar store in the Devenish Building last month. As well as her jewellery collection, shoppers will find her new clothing line with a focus on high-end faux fur, Novelty Curated x Kate Hewko.
Kate Hewko Design Studio, 908 17 Ave. S.W., katehewko.com
The Winter Word Fair only runs on December 1. Consider it the place to be if you’re looking for books or other wordy-related products to give as gifts this year. There will be a range of independent booksellers here, like Owl’s Nest Books, Pages Books and Shelf Life Books, as well as other literary-ish vendors, including Sentry Box, Theatre Calgary and Feast Letterpress. There’s also a special literary cocktail to sample. Admission is free and the market runs from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Central Public Library, 616 Macleod Tr. S.E., 403-260-2600, calgarylibrary.ca
photograph by karin olafson
The trampoline dodgeball courts, looking out onto the Ninja Obstacle Course and the Military Obstacle Course.
A new fitness centre opened at the end of October. It’s not your typical fitness centre, either. There are no treadmills or stationary bikes here. Instead, you’ll find a ninja warrior-inspired obstacle course, a military obstacle course racing area, a trampoline park and various climbing walls. Needless to say, an hour here will offer a full-body workout. And, it feels more like spending some time at the playground than the gym.
102, 52 Aero Dr. N.E., 587-353-4652, injanation.com
If you’re trying to make your Christmas shopping as local as possible this year, make a stop at Market Collective. Or, come back several times — the market returns every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from now until December 18. Each weekend there are numerous artisans and designers, as well as local food and drink vendors.
As well as shopping and indulging, you can also give back. From December 2 to 4, bring gently used winter clothes for Project Warmth or write a holiday message for someone in need, thanks to MakeItMerry. And, December 9 to 11, purchase a TreeEra card and know that you’ve helped plant 25 trees. (It comes with a Camp Brand Goods gift card.)
Chinese Cultural Centre, 197 1 St. S.W., marketcollective.ca
The duo behind CBC’s comedic, satirical program This is That will be at the Banff Centre on December 3. You’ll hear about (completely made-up) issues that are (probably) relevant to Canadians. There’s no knowing what you’ll hear about during the program, but a few things are certain: you’ll be entertained and absolutely any topic at all could be covered, because nothing is off limits.
Eric Harvie Theatre, The Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, 107 Tunnel Mountain Dr., 403-762-6100, banffcentre.ca
Learn how to make your own glass Christmas ornament on the mobile glassblowing truck, Glass House Collective. During a class, you’ll learn a little bit about the art of glassblowing and you’ll be able to make an ornament too. Classes run December 3 to 6.
New Edward Gallery, 352 8 Ave. N.E., glasshousecollective.com
Instead of buying an ugly Christmas sweater for that office party, make your own on December 7. For $50, you can let your Christmas sweater creativity loose. The ticket price includes a sweater and all your decorative embellishments, like bobbles, bells and felts. The crafting all happens at Wurst, so you can pair your creating with beer and bar snacks.
Wurst, 2437 4 St. S.W., eventbrite.ca
Admire the Christmas lights in a new way this year. Register for Dashing Through the Glow at Spruce Meadows on December 9 and you’ll jog a gentle 5 km past a really Christmas-y scene. The course has life-sized snow globes, a quarter of a million Christmas lights and 10-foot-tall Santas. It isn’t timed — it’s all just for fun — and at the end of it all, there’s chili.
Spruce Meadows, 18011 Spruce Meadows Way S.W., 403-974-4200, sprucemeadows.com
Gratitude Attitude sweatshirt, $111.99.
Maybe you’re not starting that new workout regimen until January, but you can treat yourself to some new workout gear to get yourself motivated for that fresh start. Canada’s first Lorna Jane opened in Southcentre Mall last month. It’s an Australian activewear line with products like sports bras, running tights, T-shirts and yoga mats. (If you really need some motivation to get moving, it also has shirts with motivational phrases on them.)
Southcentre Mall, 403-278-5820, ljactive.ca
It’s easy to get caught up in the chaos of the Christmas season. In between the shopping, the eating, the drinking and the celebrating, find some time to give back to those who are less fortunate. Many charities in the city need donations year-round, but Christmastime is particularly busy for them. Consider donating goods to the Calgary Dream Centre, funds to Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids or some time to The Magic of Christmas.
The final event of the year in the Adults Only Night Energy Series is all about ice. Stop by Telus Spark on December 15 to discover ice’s complexities and to get a better understanding of our polar ice caps. The venue is licensed, so enjoy a beer or glass of wine while you wander the centre’s galleries.
Telus Spark Science Centre, 220 St. George’s Dr. N.E., 403-817-6800, sparkscience.ca
Ten days before Christmas Day, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra presents a groovy, upbeat Christmas concert. A Rockin’ Little Christmas will include a range of seasonal hits like “Santa Baby,” Jingle Bell Rock” and “White Christmas.” Four vocalists, Andrea Koziol, Stephanie Martin, Kathryn Rose and Gavin Hope, perform alongside the CPO. Ticket prices for this December 15 concert vary.
Jack Singer Concert Hall, Arts Commons, 205 8 Ave. S.E., 403-571-0849, calgaryphil.com
For a Christmas treat you’d find in Eastern Europe, stop by Edelweiss Imports. Here, you’ll find a range of sweets, candies and pastries that are difficult to find in ordinary grocery stores. Think marzipanbrot (that’s a loaf of marzipan, which is sweetened almond paste), imported foil-wrapped chocolates and streusel. After shopping, have a hot lunch at Edelweiss Kaffe Stube — schnitzel, sausage and cabbage rolls are all on the menu here.
Edelweiss Imports, 1921 20 Ave. N.W., 403-282-6600, edelweissimports.com
Maybe you already know the story and you’re already familiar with the songs, but the Alberta Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker is a classic Calgary Christmas event. The dancers are elegant, the costumes are intricate and there’s no shortage of Christmas spirit. The show opens on December 16 and runs until December 24.
Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, 1415 14 Ave. N.W., 403-294-9494, albertaballet50.com
photograph courtesy of high line brewing
There’s local beer being brewed in the former auto garage behind Minh Chau in Inglewood. High Line Brewing is a recently opened brewery with a 23-seat tasting room and a select beer list. Stop in for pint, fill up your growler or buy some High Line Brewing merchandise.
High Line Brewing, 113, 1318 9 Ave. S.E., highlinebrewing.com
The Carol of the Belles concert returns for its third year in a row. As before, this is a family-friendly concert that raises money for WiseGuyz, a program from the Calgary Sexual Health Centre that educates junior high school-aged boys. Musicians performing in this year’s concert include Kenna Burima and guests, Chantal Chagnon and The Torchettes. This year, the concert is on December 18.
Flames Central, 219 8 Ave. S.W., carolofthebellesyyc.com
photograph courtesy of my yoga calgary
Take 75 minutes out of your day on December 21, the shortest day of the year, to relax, unwind and do some yoga 191 metres above ground — the session is held in the Calgary Tower. It costs $35 and includes admission to the Calgary Tower Observatory Deck and a goody bag.
Calgary Tower, 101 9 Ave. S.W., myyogacalgary.com
If you have some time off work between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, consider going on a quick getaway to Windermere. Here, you’ll find The Whiteway, which is the longest skating trail in the world. It’s over 30 km long and you can skate the whole track or cross-country ski in the groomed track that runs alongside the rink. The day use fee is only $5.
photograph by jennifer hamilton
Vietnamese-style Scotch egg with red onion and chili aioli.
For something completely different from the usual Christmas dishes, dine at Duncan Ly’s restaurant. Foreign Concept is scheduled to open at the beginning of December and its focus is “alternative Asian dining.” Expect fresh dishes that combine flavours and cooking styles from Vietnam, Thailand and China, but that also have a unique, creative flair. (We recommend the Vietnamese-style Scotch egg with red onion and chili aioli.)
Foreign Concept, 1011 1 St. S.W., 403-813-2790, foreignconcept.ca
Cindy isn’t the Cinderella you’ve read about in the fairy tales. In ATP’s version of the story, Cindy is from Calgary, has a male fairy godmother and just wants to work hard and win the Calgary Stampede talent show. And somehow, she’s fallen in love with a time traveller. Slipper: A Distinctly Calgarian Cinderella Story is a British-style pantomime, so cheer for the heroine, boo for the evil step-sisters and sing along to the songs. The show runs from now until December 31.
Martha Cohen Theatre, Arts Commons, 215 8 Ave. S.E., 403-294-7402, atplive.com
Before the season is truly over, indulge in a few more seasonal desserts. We suggest going for either the Peppermint Mocha Village waffle or the Gingerbread Eggnog waffle from Buttermilk. The Peppermint Mocha Village is made using Guides Mint Village Ice Cream, melted chocolate, peppermint whipped cream and crushed candy canes. The other features gingerbread syrup, eggnog cream sauce and garnished with gingerbread cookies. Both cost $8 and are available from December 1 to 31.
Treat yourself to a waffle on a Monday — every Monday night in December until December 23, Christmas movies will be screened at 7:30 p.m.
Buttermilk Fine Waffles, 330 17 Ave. S.W., 403-287-9094, buttermilkfinewaffles.com
Discover a little bit about the city this month. The Lougheed House and Firefighters Museum of Calgary present a temporary exhibition about Calgary’s fire brigade, which operated from 1885 until 1939. You have until January 29 to see the artifacts and hear the stories.
Lougheed House, 707 13 Ave. S.W., lougheedhouse.com
Embrace the chilly weather, dust off those ice skates and spend some time at an outdoor skating rink. For a skate downtown, consider Prince’s Island Lagoon or Olympic Plaza. For a rink that’s a little further from the core, choose to skate at the Bowness Lagoon or the Rosemont Rinks. Or, head to the mountains for a picturesque skate on The Pond in Canmore or on Lake Louise.