6 Calgary Christmas Traditions and How to Make the Most of Them

Our pro tip for the Fairmont Palliser dinner buffet is start heavy, finish light and go for the Black Apron Alberta prime rib of beef.



A Christmas Carol


photograph courtesy of theatre calgary

Dates: Until Dec. 24

Cost: Prices vary

What it is: You know the story. Theatre Calgary’s version of this show has refined Dickens’ tale over its 27 consecutive years on stage to give it a whole lot of heart: there’s singing, there’s snow and there’s skating.

 Tip from Dennis Garnhum, artistic director of Theatre Calgary and director and adaptor of A Christmas Carol:

“Stephen Hair returns to play the part of Scrooge for the 22nd year in a row. Every year, he tries to find something new in the role, so audiences can enjoy seeing how Stephen is going to approach the role a little differently this time.”

Max Bell Theatre, Arts Commons, 403-294-7440, theatrecalgary.com

Fairmont Palliser’s Christmas dinner buffet


photograph courtesy of the fairmont palliser

Dates: Dec. 24 to 26

Cost: From $79 per person; price varies by day

What it is: An extravagant buffet banquet with all the trimmings. (You’ll need to book well in advance.) It’s a mouth-watering spread – all the proteins are locally sourced or from neighbouring provinces if not available in Alberta.

 Tip from Craig Nazareth, executive chef at the Fairmont Palliser:

“Start heavy and finish light. A must-try is the Black Apron Alberta prime rib of beef. This will allow you to try as much of the buffet as possible and still have room to tackle the amazing dessert buffet that our pastry team puts together.”

Fairmont Palliser, 133 9 Ave. S.W., 403-260-1224, fairmont.com

Ice skating at Bowness Park


photograph courtesy of the city of calgary

Dates: Mid-December to February

Cost: Free

What it is: Outdoor skating in a picturesque park. After the 2013 flood, the Bowness ice rink was renovated to be bigger and better than before. Bring your own skates to the park and skate down the canal toward the river.

 Tip from Michelle Dice, executive director of the Bowness Community Association:

“Bownesians like to roast hot dogs and bring hot chocolate to the lagoon [to enjoy] after an afternoon of ice skating.”

Bowness Park, 8900 48 Ave. N.W., calgary.ca

Market Collective


photograph courtesy of market collective

Dates: Dec. 4 to 6, 11 to 13, 18 to 20

Cost: Adults $5, kids get in free

What it is: This independent market hosts a range of artisans selling everything from jewellery and clothing to artwork. A few staple artists include CoutuKitsch and Heather Buchanan.

 Tip from Angel Guerra, co-founder of Market Collective:

“Because we have different artists and musicians on the various weekends, we encourage Calgarians to come back for each one. If you don’t have time to come each weekend, be sure to give yourself enough time to shop, listen to the music, grab lunch and sip on your favourite beverage – the entire space is licensed.”

Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre, 197 1 St. S.W., marketcollective.ca

Once Upon a Christmas


photograph courtesy of heritage park

Dates: Weekends until Dec. 20

Cost: Adults $10.50, seniors $8.25, youth $6.50, children $5.25

What it is: The point of Heritage Park’s annual Christmas festival is to put Calgarians back in touch with the simpler parts of the season, like carol-singing, cookie-decorating and homemade decorations.

 Tip from Barb Munro, communications specialist at Heritage Park:

“Come early to skip the crowds – you’ll get so much more out of it. And book your breakfast buffet tickets in advance because they sell out every year.”

Heritage Park, 403-268-8500, heritagepark.ca



photograph courtesy of the calgary zoo

Dates: Until Jan. 2

Cost: Adults $14, children $11

What it is: The only display in Calgary made up of 1.5 million Christmas lights, Zoolights has more than animal-shaped light displays. Last year saw the addition of a refrigerated skating rink. It’s chinook-proof and there are free skate rentals courtesy of KidSport Calgary.

 Tip from Roz Freeman, advisor for special events and promotions at the Calgary Zoo:

“Don’t rush through the show. No matter what the weather is like, take your time to tour the gardens, visit the Singing Tree – it’s an interactive light display – and warm up by one of the six firepits with a hot chocolate.”

Calgary Zoo, 403-232-9300, calgaryzoo.com

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