7 Things to Do on Christmas Day in Calgary

What to do outside and what’s actually open on the big day.

Photograph by Evgeniy Fedorcov/Getty.

Looking for something to do on December 25th? Whether you want to skip cooking and cleaning, see a blockbuster or have some fun outside, our guide has something for you.


Catch a Movie

Seeing a movie together on Christmas Day is a tradition for many families, but beyond tent-pole institutions and kid-friendly movies lie a crop of releases strategically timed for Oscar buzz. Blockbusters like the new Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly movie Holmes & Watson and Bumblebee (a Transformers franchise side quest) are sure to please families with mature teens, family friendly tales Mary Poppins Returns and The Grinch are great for kids, and awards-season hopefuls Vice, If Beale Street Could Talk and Roma are best left to adults. Cineplex and Landmark will both have locations open on Christmas, and indie house the Globe Cinema will be open specifically to show Roma. We recommend Cinemaclock.com for showtimes.


Get a Hot Meal at a Restaurant

Your dining options on the 25th are mostly located within hotels where hungry travelers will be bustling in and out of the dining room all day. As of December 18, Yellow Door Bistro, Headquarters Restaurant, The Bistro at Calgary Courtyard South, Flower & Wolf, Ric’s Lounge and Grill and Little Chief Hotel Restaurant were still accepting reservations. If you need somewhere to get a meal, do not delay in making arrangements.


See the Lights

Zoolights may be closed today but plenty of Calgary neighbourhoods are dressed to the nines. Our first suggestion would be to peruse the LightenUp Calgary resource which features an interactive, crowd-sourced map of where to see the lights. Think your own lighting rig deserves recognition? Apply to be part of LightenUp’s directory today. Also excellent are the 32nd annual Lions Festival of Lights (over 450,000 LED bulbs) and, a little further out, Airdrie’s Festival of Lights. Craving a drive through the mountains? Canmore’s Rotary Festival of Trees is your new best friend.


Skate at an Outdoor Rink

By far the best way burn off some of those stuffing calories is to lace up your skates and hit the ice. Olympic Plaza is a popular bet and as of writing time is the one of only two city-maintained facilities open for the season (the other being the south rink at Prairie Winds Park). Keep an eye on Calgary.ca to see if your outdoor rink of choice is open on the 25th.


Snowboard or Ski

All three big attractions in the Banff and Lake Louise area are open for regular hours on the 25th. That includes Sunshine Village, Mount Norquay and Lake Louise Ski Resort.


Toboggan on These City Hills

There are 22 city-maintained hills in Calgary where tobogganing is permitted. Private, provincial and federal land each have their own rules so we suggest sticking to the big hitters. You can browse the full list here but our quick picks for each quadrant are as follows: Prairie Winds Park (N.E.), Confederation Park (N.W.), McKenzie Towne (S.E.) and Stanley Park (S.W.).



Christmas Day sees an influx of one-time or once-in-a-while volunteers and most opportunities are already filled up. Some organizations that rely on volunteers for the city’s most vulnerable populations say that while they are grateful for support, those still feeling charitable this holiday season would be most helpful by planning an ongoing volunteer commitment for the New Year. We suggest connecting with the resources provided by Propellus, a not-for-profit organization connecting volunteers with causes they are passionate about.

Want more suggestions for the best things to do in Calgary? Sign up for our Weekender Newsletter.

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