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.


Sing or listen to Handel’s Messiah with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra

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


Shop from hundreds of vendors at the International Christmas Market

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
Cost: $10 

Spruce Meadows, 403-974-4200, sprucemeadows.com


Visit Market Collective over the first three weekends of December

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.

Musical performance
When: December 2
Cost: $30 to $35 general admission, $15 to $18 kids​
Central United Church, 131 7 Ave. S.W., 403-233-0904, calgaryfolkfest.com

Theatre double feature
When: Runs until December 17 
Cost: $28 general, $23 kids 
Vertigo Theatre Studio, 115 9 Ave. S.E., 403-216-0808, storybooktheatre.org


Eat holiday dishes at the Yule Love it Lunch Buffet

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

133 9 Ave. S.W., 403-262-1234, fairmont.com


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 PubShelter, Ten Foot Henry and more.

When: December 5


Spend the weekend shopping for gifts at the Festival of Crafts

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


Run or walk the route at Dashing Through the Glow

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


Go check out a giant gingerbread house

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.


Shop for Alberta-made crafts at the new Alberta Craft Gallery

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


Plan ahead for your next visit to the mall

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.


Take a ride on the CP Holiday Train

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 
Cost: Free

Olympic Plaza, 228 8 Ave. S.E.; McDougall Centre, 455 6 St. S.W.


Attend Icetime with the Calgary Civic Symphony

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.]

Check out a new winter festival in the University District

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


Fill a shoebox with little gifts for a woman in need

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.)



Catch a performance of the classic Christmas ballet The Nutcracker

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


Participate in a yoga class at the top of the Calgary Tower

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
Cost: $40

Calgary Tower, 101 9 Ave. S.W., myyogacalgary.com


Use augmented reality technology on downtown painted window displays

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
Cost: Free



Get in the holiday spirit with Heritage Park's Once Upon A Christmas festivities

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


Watch Lunchbox Theatre's current holiday production, The Santaland Diaries

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


Meet the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future at a performance of A Christmas Carol

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 


Fill up on Cococo chocolate cherries

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

11 Calgary locations including Bankers Hall shopping centre and Calgary International Airport, 403-265-5777, cococochocolatiers.com


Enjoy a fireside meal in Prince's Island Park

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


Take in a giant light display at Lions’ Festival of Lights

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
Cost: Free

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.

RR#3 Rocky Mountain House, 403-722-3207, ravenridgetrees.com, ajfwa.ca


Book a getaway at the Post Hotel & Spa

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


Take family and friends to the Legacy Light Parade

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
Cost: Free 



Enjoy more than a million lights at the Calgary Zoo's Zoolights

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

Calgary Zoo, 210 St. George’s Drive N.E., 403-232-9300, calgaryzoo.com

[This section was updated to reflect the correct admission prices.]


Treat your neighbours to some holiday baking


Spread Christmas cheer by shovelling your neighbours’ sidewalks or baking and delivering your favourite holiday treat.

When: Anytime
Cost: Free

Your community


Try a latte flight at the new Société Coffee Lounge

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


Ring in the new year while watching fireworks in downtown Calgary

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

This article appears in the December 2017 issue of Avenue Calgary. Subscribe here. 


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