20 Free Things to Do in Calgary

If you want to explore Calgary without breaking the bank, you’re in luck, as there are many free things to do in Calgary. Whether you are in the mood to go for a walk, take a free tour or see a play – there are plenty of options for things to do in Calgary for free for whatever you are into.

Calgary's iconic Peace Bridge at sunset. If you want to find free things to do in Calgary take some selfies at the bridge.

20 Free Things to Do in Calgary

If you are looking for things to do in Calgary for free, there is always something to do, no matter the season. Go ice skating in the winter, head to a festival in the summer or go bird watching in the autumn. So, put your wallets away and explore Calgary’s many free parks, museums and festivals for free. 

1. Walk the YYC

If you want to explore Calgary with a guide, you must take a tour with Walk the YYC. The free tours include a walk down the Historic Stephen Avenue and The Wild West. You get to learn about the history of Calgary while strolling through the best parts of the city.

The tour is free, but you are welcome to bring some cash to tip the guide if you want.

Walk the YYC also has a couple of really cool walking tours that I highly recommend. These are paid tours, but if you are looking for things to do in Calgary, I cannot recommend them enough. My favourite tour is Endure & Survive Calgary, a filming location tour for The Last of Us.

If you want things to do for Halloween in Calgary, the Haunted Cowtown walking tour is perfect for the spooky season.

Check out more here: Walk The YYC

2. Explore the JR Shaw Centre for Arts & Culture

Spend an afternoon exploring the exhibitions for free at the JR Shaw Centre for Arts & Culture (The Glenbow Museum). As of September 2023, the museum is being renovated, but you can still visit the exhibitions at The Edison.

The museum is home to Canada’s largest public art collection and Indigenous collections. The art is phenomenal, and they have new exhibits several times a year.

The museum is one of the best free things to do in Calgary. It is perfect for family outings or a date with your partner or pals.

3. Visit the Calgary Police Museum

If you want free things to do in Calgary that the whole family can enjoy, head down to the Calgary Police Museum at YouthLink Calgary. 

Entry to the museum is always free, and there is so much to do. They have hands-on exhibits where you solve crimes, police collections from over the years and more.

YouthLink Calgary also has fun things to do in Calgary for adults! Check out their page if you are looking for Calgary activities for adults.

4. Explore Calgary’s Night Market

Head down to the University District for the Night Market! The free event happens on the last Wednesday of each month from May through September. The vent has 30 vendors, entertainment and live music.

5. TD Devonian Gardens – Indoor Botanical Gardens

Head down to the TD Devonian Gardens to explore Calgary’s only indoor botanical gardens. Not only is this one of the best free activities in Calgary, but it’s also a great day out for families.

The Devonian Gardens are located in the CORE Shopping Centre in downtown Calgary. The gardens are one hectare, which is home to over 500 trees, loads of plants and a living wall complete with fountains, fishponds and a playground where your kids can play while you relax.

It’s the perfect way to spend a winter day in Calgary if you want to escape the freezing winter weather. 

6. Have a Picnic in Prince’s Island Park

If you want things to do in downtown Calgary for free, you must head to Prince’s Island Park. The park is one of Calgary’s most iconic parks, as it hosts several festivals, including the Calgary Folk Festival.

The park is free and perfect for spending an afternoon walking on a flower-lined path or having a picnic. If you are looking for free things to do in Calgary in the winter, the park, you can go ice skating on the Eau Claire Lagoon.

7. Attend a Free Festival

Calgary has loads of festivals, including several that are free to visit. Whether you are looking for things to do in Calgary for families or want to head to a festival with friends, there are loads to choose from.

A few free festivals in Calgary that I recommend include a Taste of Calgary, which is free to enter, but if you want to taste any of the food, you will have to pay a small fee. Other free festivals include the Mardi Gras Street Festival, Beakerhead, Calgary Pride, 4th Street Lilac Festival and the Calgary Dragon Boat Festival.

8. Go Bird Watching at Inglewood Bird Sanctuary

If you love birds, you must spend an afternoon wandering the trails of the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. The sanctuary has been a safe spot for over 270 species of birds over the years.

Be sure to bring binoculars and your camera, and see how many species of birds you can spot in one afternoon. 

If you are a nature lover, this is one of the best things to do in Calgary for free and one of my favourite

9. Meet New Friends at Y Not Today

Head down to one of the best dessert spots in Calgary and meet some new friends during one of their free events. In addition to free events, there are always interactive activities you can enjoy, including playing one of their board games and putting together a puzzle. 

Enjoy loads of unique drinks, snacks, and a cold bowl of bingsoo to accompany your night of hanging out with friends. Some free events include boardgame meetups, and some paid events include neon paint nites, sand art performances, and crochet for beginners.

Check out more here: Y Not Today

10. Walk down Stephen Avenue

Take an afternoon stroll through Calgary’s historic Stephen Avenue. The area is for pedestrians only and is filled with loads of pubs, restaurants, museums and plenty of places to go shopping.

Stephen Avenue is also perfect for people looking for free things to do in Calgary as it is historic, and all the shops are perfect for window shopping. There is no need to spend money to have an enjoyable time.

11. See a play at Shakespeare by the Bow

Every summer, Shakespeare by the Bow offers free performances around Calgary for people who love theatre. Shakespeare on the Go Performances puts on an adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream around the city.

The play takes place outside, and the family-friendly performance makes it the perfect way for the entire family to enjoy live theatre.

This event occurs in the summer, but it is definitely one of the best things to do in Calgary for free in the summer.

12. Enjoy Calgary’s Public Art

Calgary is home to some of Alberta’s best street art and sculptures. There are incredible sculptures, murals, Instagram-able walls and street art dotted in all areas of the city, making heading out to check out Calgary’s art scene a multi-day event.

If you want to enjoy an indoor gallery, I recommend visiting the Esker Foundation, a free contemporary art gallery in Inglewood. Another great art gallery is the Glenbow at The Edison, which offers touring exhibitions, so there is always something new. The Glenbow requires pre-booking, so look into that before visiting.

Check out the Calgary Street Art Map here to plan to visit all the street art Calgary offers.

13. Have a Photoshoot at The Peace Bridge

The Peace Bridge is definitely one of Calgary’s most iconic photo spots. Not only is the bridge the perfect backdrop to your photoshoot, but it also offers stunning views of Calgary. So, why not grab your camera and a couple of friends and head down to the Peace Bridge?

14. Wander Through a Cemetery

Do you want to explore a part of Calgary that most people don’t think about? You can join a volunteer-led walking tour through one of Calgary’s many historic cemeteries from May through October. 

Wander through Burnsland Cemetery, St Mary’s Cemetery, or Union Cemetery and learn about mounties, cowboys, and prohibitionists from Calgary’s past. 

Find out more here: Cemetery Tours in Calgary

15. Stroll through Chinatown

Head down to Calgary’s iconic Chinatown and enjoy the downtown district’s shopping, restaurants and cultural events. Visit the Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre, eat at the Silver Dragon or wander around Sien Lok Park.

16. Visit Calgary Library

Did you know that Calgary’s Central Library offers many free programs suitable for everyone? There is even a children’s floor complete with a jungle gym and other interactive areas perfect for keeping the kids busy.

Other free things to do in Calgary at the library include taking online music classes, watching films, playing board games, and so much more.

17. Enjoy Calgary’s City Parks

Calgary has some of Alberta’s best parks, and whether or not you are into taking a walk, hiking, cycling, having a picnic or finding the best park to view the fireworks during the stampede – there is a park for everyone.

If you are after gorgeous views of Calgary, I recommend heading to Scotsman’s Park. If you want to go hiking or cycling, head down to Nose Hill Park. Shaw Millennium Park is home to the best skatepark in Calgary and includes free access to basketball and volleyball courts. 

I also highly recommend visiting Prince’s Island Park, which has beautiful flower gardens, hiking trails and perfect picnic areas for everyone to enjoy. 

18. Visit a Farm on Open Farm Days

Several farms and farmhouses around Alberta open up to the public in the summer for tours. Learn more about the farms in your area how they work, and visit the animals that live on the farms. It’s a unique experience, bringing you closer to understanding agriculture in Alberta.

Find out more here: Alberta Open Farm Days

2 Free Things to Do in Calgary in the Winter

19. Go Ice Skating at Olympic Plaza

If you want free things to do in Calgary this winter, grab your skates and head down to the Olympic Plaza for free ice skating. If you do not have skates, they do have rentals available. 

20. Go Cross Country Skiing or Snow Shoeing

 If you want to spend winter in Calgary enjoying the snowy outdoors, I recommend heading to places like South Glenmore Park and Bowness Park, strapping on the cross-country skis (or snowshoes) and hitting the trails.

There are also a few free things to do this Christmas in Calgary that will put you in the Christmas spirit this winter.

Other Things to Do in Calgary

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