How to Spend Christmas in Calgary

Celebrating Christmas in Calgary is magical. Every year, the Christmas lights brighten up the dark winter skies, people wander through Christmas markets buying gifts for loved ones, and visits to Santa Claus are on the horizon.

There are plenty of things to do in Calgary for Christmas – from shopping at Christmas Markets and watching a Christmas play to spending time at one of the several Christmas events. There is enough to do to fill the festive season with holiday joy.

Santa putting gifts under a tree

How to Spend Christmas in Calgary

There are loads of Christmas events in Calgary that will get you in the holiday spirit. Whether you are shopping for Christmas gifts or want to enjoy a festive evening with your friends or family – there is something for everyone to do this holiday season.

From Christmas-themed events at Calgary’s most popular attractions to Christmas concerts to meeting Santa or riding a Christmas train – find out the best things to do for Christmas in Calgary this year.

Christmas Events in Calgary

Heritage Park Once Upon a Christmas 

Wander down to Heritage Park for this year’s Once Upon a Christmas. Heritage Park gets fully decked out in festive displays, including a Christmas village display and a model train display.

Spending Christmas in Calgary at Heritage Park is fun for the entire family as it features visits with Santa, creating Christmas crafts, decorating gingerbread cookies, holiday storytimes, festive photo-ops, listening to Christmas Carolers belt out the best Christmas songs, going on horse-drawn wagon rides and so much more.

Book here: Once Upon a Christmas at Heritage Park

Calgary Zoolights

Calgary Zoo throws one of the best Christmas events in Calgary with Zoolights. The zoo features over 1 million lights and 250 light figurines, and 2023 brings an arctic aurora theme.

Calgary Zoolights is the perfect way to spend Christmas in Calgary. Celebrate with friends and family, or head on a festive-themed date night.

This year’s Zoolights includes Polar Nights, an illuminated magical garden and roaming the arctic twilight in the ENMAX Conservatory.

You can also book a night in one of the private Snow Globes, where you can enjoy delicious food and drinks along with your Zoolights ticket.

Book here: Calgary Zoolights

CPKC Holiday Train

The CPKC Holiday Train is one of the best things to do for Christmas. The train tours across Canada will be in Calgary on December 9th, 2023. The Calgary stop features a performance by Anyway Gang. The CPKC Holiday train is free to visit, but they would love it if you brought non-perishable food items to donate to the food bank.

Find out more here: CPKC Holiday Train

SILVER & BOLD at the Telus Spark Science Centre

Telus Spark Science Centre always has the best events. This year’s Christmas event is called Silver & Bold and is perfect for the holiday season. The event is about learning about all things metal, including the conductivity and reflectivity of metal.

If metal isn’t your thing, Telus Spark also has the Winter is Coming Exhibit, Spark Snow Lounge and The Polar Bar, perfect for people looking for things to do in Calgary for adults. 

The Telus Spark Science Centre has amazingly fun things to do for Halloween in Calgary.

Find out more here: Christmas Events at Telus Spark Science Centre

Holiday Tea at Heritage Park

Spend Christmas in Calgary, indulging yourself at Heritage Park’s afternoon Holiday Tea. Enjoy sipping teas or warm apple cider while nibbling finger sandwiches and freshly baked sweet treats.

After you enjoy your Holiday Tea, you can wander through Heritage Park’s Gasoline Alley Museum, home to one of the world’s largest public collections of antique vehicles.

Find out more here: Holiday Tea at Heritage Park

Santa and the Grinch at Glow YYC - one of the best ways to spend Christmas in Calgary
Photo via Glow Calgary Instagram

GLOW Calgary Presents: Santa’s Sleigh Adventure

GLOW is back with its magical Christmas display of over 90000 square feet of twinkling lights. 

A visit to GLOW is the perfect way for the whole family to spend Christmas in Calgary. I also recommend a visit to GLOW as an excellent idea for a winter date night. 

This year, Santa’s Sleigh Adventure features activities for kids, such as visiting a mermaid, dancing on a dance floor lit up with LEDs, riding the GLOW-comotive, LED swings, and so much more.

GLOW also features live music events from Christmas Carolers to live DJs playing Christmas music to Dan the One Elf Band.

Be sure to pick up a delicious drink in one of their lightbulb glow cups. I still use mine from when I went to GLOW years ago.

Book your tickets here: GLOW Calgary

The Polar Express Train Ride 

Hop aboard the Polar Express for a magical one-hour train journey filled with Christmas spirit. If you enjoyed watching The Polar Express film, you will love immersing yourself in the movie magic. 

Wear your pyjamas and prepare for a ride filled with hot chocolate, cookies, gifts and your own collectible Polar Express mug. The Polar Express Train Ride is located in Aspen Crossing, about an hour from Calgary.

Didn’t we all want to ride the Polar Express after watching the movie?!

Christmas Sleigh Rides at Horsin Around

Head to Horsin Around to book your very own Christmas Sleigh Ride!  The Sleigh Rides are open for reservation on December 23rd and 24th, so reserve your spot!

Venture through the snow on a sleigh ride and warm up next to the campfire while feasting on free hot chocolate.

Find out more here: Christmas Sleigh Rides

Rat King from Alberta Ballets The Nutcracker
Photo via Alberta Ballet Facebook

Christmas Theatre, Holiday Plays and Festive Performances

Calgary has loads to offer if you want to get into the Christmas spirit. Head down to Rosebud Theatre, Theatre Calgary or the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium and prepare to be immersed in festive performances all evening.

Rosebud Theatre

If you love theatre, head to the Rosebud Theatre this holiday season. The theatre features three holiday shows, including All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914, Christmas in the Marketplace and a Christmas Choir Concert. 

The shows are all family-friendly (kids in grade 5 and up) and make for a perfect night out in Calgary this Christmas.

Find out more here: Christmas Shows at Rosebud Theatre

Theatre Calgary 

Enjoy the holiday classic A Christmas Carol at Theatre Calgary this Christmas. Watch Ebenezer Scrooge as he spends Christmas Eve with three ghosts. I highly recommend booking your tickets as early as possible, as they sell out fast.

Book tickets here: A Christmas Carol

The Nutcracker by Alberta Ballet 

What is more Christmas than The Nutcracker? Head down to the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium to watch the Alberta Ballet perform this Christmas’s iconic holiday performance.

Christmas Concerts & Music in Calgary

Watch Classical Music by Candlelight

Spend the evening enjoying the sweet sounds of classical music this Christmas, illuminated by hundreds of candles. Candlelight Concerts feature a local string quartet, solo pianist, or orchestra performing an hour of Christmas music, including a Nutcracker Holiday Special or Jazz Christmas Classics.

Book here: Candlelight Concerts in Calgary

Christmas Music at the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra 

Enjoy the sweet sounds of traditional Christmas tunes from the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. Some songs performed include Christmas classics like O Come All Ye Faithful, Overture from The Nutcracker and Prelude on an Old Carol Tune.

Book here: Christmas Music at the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra

Candy Cane Kids a Holiday Musical

Head to the BMO Theatre at Shane Homes YMCA  for a fun, festive family outing this Christmas. The Candy Cane Kids a Holiday Musical features Cookie, Pep Stripe and a cast of dancers and singers ready to give you a performance you will love this Christmas.

Book here:  Candy Cane Kids a Holiday Musical

Jubilations 

If you love dinner theatre and Christmas, you should head down to Jubilations for their holiday show, The Guardians of Christmas. The show is for children, so I recommend it for families.

Storybook Theatre 

Head to the Beddington Theatre Arts Centre and enjoy an adaptation of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. The adaptation, named One Christmas Carol, is performed by one actor who portrays over 35 different characters. It’s an incredible sight and a great play this Christmas season.

Book here: One Christmas Carol

Where to see Christmas Lights in Calgary

What is more magical than seeing houses, shops and everything in between decorated with loads of Christmas lights and decorations?

Whether you want to walk through neighbourhoods decked out in Christmas decorations or drive through Christmas Lights displays in Calgary, there are several locations in and around the city to visit.

Wander through the stunning Christmas lights around Calgary to get you into the Christmas spirit. Here are a few locations in Calgary that offer the most spectacular Christmas displays.

Spruce Meadows Christmas Light Drive-Through

If you want free things to do in Calgary this Christmas, head down to the Spruce Meadows Christmas Light Drive-Through. 

You can enjoy the lights in your vehicle or park and walk through the lit-up path. 

Find out more here: Spruce Meadows Christmas Light Drive-Through

Legacy Lights

Calgary’s Legacy Lights offers some of the brightest displays of lights and decorations. Drive or walk through Calgary’s Legacy neighbourhood and enjoy decorated houses, parks and tunnels of lights. If you visit after the 15th of December, bring your ice skates and enjoy skating on the freshly opened ice rink.

 Find out more here: Legacy Lights

Lions Festival of Lights

Head down to the Lions Festival of Lights this Christmas in Calgary. The light displays begin on November 25th and run each evening until January 8th. What should you expect? Incredible Christmas lights, hot chocolate, ice sculptures and fireworks!

Find out more here: Lions Festival of Lights

Christmas Lights Outside of Calgary

If you can’t get enough Christmas lights, a few displays are located outside of Calgary.

Head to these communities to get your fill of Christmas Lights.

  • Airdrie Festival of Lights
  • Light Up Okotoks
  • Cochrane Light Up

Where to Meet Santa in Calgary

What is Christmas without a visit to Santa? Luckily, Santa has set up a few places around Calgary where you can visit him for a photo this Christmas.

Check him out at these malls and attractions around the city.

  • Millarville Christmas Market
  • Shriners Santa Photos at Santa Village
  • A Christmas to Remember at Granary Road
  • Once Upon a Christmas Heritage Park
  • Visits with Santa at The Core Shopping Centre
  • Enchanted Forest at Southcentre Mall
  • Visits with Santa at CF Chinook Centre
  • Visits with Santa at CF Market Mall

Christmas Shopping in Calgary

Start your holiday shopping or get into the mood for Christmas in Calgary by visiting the several Christmas Markets that pop up yearly. You can also pop by local shops to get all of your shopping done. Maybe you will even run into Santa Claus during your shopping trip!

Here are a few of the best places to go Christmas shopping in Calgary this year. Whether you are shopping for gifts or Christmas decorations for your home – there is a place that will have whatever you need this holiday season.

  • CF Market Mall
  • Deerfoot City Mall
  • CF Chinook Centre
  • CrossIron Mills Mall
  • The CORE Shopping Centre
  • Southcentre Mall
  • The Merry Mistletoe: A Calgary Christmas Store
  • Santa And Me
People enjoying the Inglewood Night Market. One of the best ways to spend Christmas in Calgary.
Photo via Inglewood Night Market Instagram

Calgary Christmas Markets

If you prefer shopping at a Christmas Market over a shopping centre, head down to one of Calgary’s many Christmas markets. You can shop for gifts and Christmas items and walk through a market that fully immerses you in the Christmas Season. It is the perfect way to spend Christmas in Calgary this year.

Granary Road Christmas Market 

Visit the Granary Road Christmas Market on Saturday & Sunday from November 25th through to December 17th for a festive Christmas Market. 

The Farmers’ Market is transformed into the most festive place in Calgary. Enjoy the Christmas carols that play throughout the entire market as you walk through decorated trees, Christmas lights and festive decorations. Plus, you will get the chance to visit Santa while shopping at the Christmas market.

Find out more here: Granary Road Christmas Market

Spruce Meadows International Christmas

Wander through the Spruce Meadows International Christmas Market this Christmas in Calgary. The market is full of high-quality vendors who sell locally designed products. Why not shop local this Christmas? 

Check out more information here: Spruce Meadows International Christmas

Inglewood Night Market

The Inglewood Night Market is the best way to spend Christmas in Calgary. The market, which has a $5 entry fee, is made up of local vendors selling handmade, vintage, and delicious treats.

The market is perfect for getting out of the cold Calgary nights as it is a fully indoor market located at the Crossroads Farmers Market.

You can enjoy hot chocolate, beer and wine while wandering around the Christmas market.

Find out more here: Inglewood Night Market

Authentically Indigenous

Head down to the Kerby Centre Gym on November 25th & 26th for the Authentically Indigenous Holiday Craft Market. 

Find local handmade goods, crafts, art, jewelry, beadwork, etc. Plus, you can learn about Indigenous culture while shopping at the holiday market. The market also offers craft workshops where you will learn about the Indigenous culture from local Elders.

Find out more here: Authentically Indigenous

Christmas Events in Calgary for Adults

Christmas with the family is always fun, but as someone who loves child-free places and events, I wanted to tell you about the best things to do in Calgary for adults this Christmas.

Sippin’ Santa at Ricardo’s

Enjoy festive Christmas tiki cocktails this Christmas by attending Sippin’ Santa at Ricardo’s. They serve both alcoholic and non-alcoholic Christmas drinks so everyone can enjoy spending the evening at Sippin’ Santa.

Beary Merry Holiday Party 

The Calgary Zoo is back with its Beary Merry Holiday Party. This adult-only event takes place on December 15th this year. You can walk through ZOOLIGHTS and enjoy a dinner buffet with live music and dancing. It is loads of fun, and I highly recommend it if you want to have an incredible night without the kids.

Winter Activities in Calgary to get you in the Christmas Spirit

Christmas in Calgary can be enjoyed in so many different ways. If you don’t want to see a Christmas Concert or head to a Holiday Market, there are still loads of winter activities that’ll help get you into the Christmas spirit. 

Here are some ideas for getting out and about in Calgary this Christmas.

  • Grab your sled and head to one of Calgary’s tobogganing hills for an afternoon of adventure in the snow.
  • Enjoy skating on one of Calgary’s outdoor ice skating rinks
  • Go for a winter walk on 17th Street, Stephen Avenue, Spruce Meadows of Inglewood. You can also head down to one of Calgary’s many trails for a hike.
  • Go tubing at Calgary’s Tube Park.

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