From cross country skiing through Christmas light displays to theatre productions, Calgary has Christmas fun for all ages and budgets. Here are some ideas for holiday fun in Calgary. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do. Happy holidays!
Here are our top picks for holiday fun in Calgary:
1. Calgary ZOOLIGHTS (210 St. George’s Drive NE, Calgary)
With Calgary’s largest Christmas light display (2 million lights!) and fun activities, the Calgary Zoo’s ZOOLIGHTS is a family favorite. Enjoy the light displays, warm up at Kitamba Cafe or an outdoor fire pit, ice skate at the West Lawn or try axe throwing, and check out the “Tunnel of Light,” “Dinos in the Dark,” and Nutcracker themed decorations in the Enmax Conservatory. Santa visits are available too! Find out what’s new at ZOOLIGHTS this year in our story: Enjoy Calgary’s Biggest Holiday Light Display at Calgary ZOOLIGHTS.
ZOOLIGHTS Dates: November 18, 2022 – January 8, 2023 (except November 21, 23, 29; December 1, 25, and 31)
Hours: 5 pm – 9 pm
Special Events requiring separate admission tickets (ZOOLIGHTS admission tickets do not apply): November 23, 2022 – Adults Only Night (18+), December 31, 2022 – Zoo Year’s Eve (famliy-friendly) and Zoo Year’s Eve Late Night (18+)
For more details, tickets, and the complete schedule, visit Calgary Zoo – ZOOLIGHTS.
2. Heritage Park’s Once Upon a Christmas (1900 Heritage Dr SW, Calgary)
Once Upon a Christmas at Heritage Park is a magical experience for kids of all ages. Where else can you enjoy an old-fashioned Christmas in a historical village? Begin your trip back in time at Gasoline Alley Museum. The lower level is home to Storybook Christmas activities where kids can listen to stories, play games, and do crafts with the Grinch, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph and Mrs. Claus.
Next, look for Santa at Innovation Crossing, and explore the historical village. Several buildings are open, so you can see how Christmas was celebrated in the early 1900’s. Some must-do activities include watching a holiday musical at the Canmore Opera House, listening to carolers, watching woodcarving demonstrations, and holiday shopping at the Roundhouse Christmas Market. Kids will love the reindeer scavenger hunt, children’s maze, snowshoe races, and shopping at the ‘Kids Only’ store. Don’t forget to get a tasty treat at the Bakery!
Once Upon a Christmas Dates: November 26 & 27, 2022; December 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, & 18, 2022
Hours: 10:00 am to 4:00 p.m.
To purchase tickets or get more information, visit Heritage Park – Once Upon a Christmas.
3. Glow Calgary (Nutrien Western Events Centre)
GLOW is Calgary’s largest indoor light show with over 1 million lights in a 70,000 square foot space. This year’s dazzling display, Glow Around the World, features gorgeous light installations featuring landmarks from China, India, Holland, Mexico, France, and England including the Eiffel Tower and Taj Mahal. Kids can stamp their passports at each country before visiting Santa at the North Pole! While you’re there, enjoy cocktails, treats from Food Truck Alley, a Christmas Market, and live entertainment. There’s also a large play area for the kids and a free mini train ride! Allow at least an hour to see everything; 1.5-2 hours to eat and watch some live music.
Dates: The GLOW Festival runs from November 25 – December 31, 2022 at Nutrien Western Events Centre.
Get your tickets now at Glow YYC.
4. Telus Spark Sparkle Sparkle (220 Saint George’s Drive NE, Calgary)
Telus Spark’s Sparkle Sparkle is a gorgeous indoor light display. Visit the illuminated winter palace, get a photo with Santa and his robot dog at Santa’s Robot Workshop, enjoy the interactive snowfall experience (in the digital immersion gallery), then pick up a sweet treat at the Sugar Shack.
Sparkle Sparkle Dates: December 1, 2022, until December 30, 2022 (CLOSED for private events/holidays on December 9, 10, 24, 25, and 31st)
Hours: 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm.
Get tickets and details at Telus Spark. Free for ages 2 & under. Read about our experience last year in Get your glow on at Telus Spark’s Sparkle Sparkle.
5. Lions’ Festival of Lights (Confederation Park 14 St & 24 Ave NW, Calgary)
Calgary’s biggest drive-by display of Christmas lights (500,000 lightbulbs!) is Lions’ Festival of Lights along 14 St NW, north of 24 Ave). While it is possible to see most of the displays from your car, it’s far more fun walking through them – and it’s FREE. Park on side streets off of 24 Ave NW, or park at the Confederation Park Golf Course and cross country ski to the lights.
Opening Day Celebration: November 26, 2022 at 5 pm
- Hot Chocolate and Cookies
- Ice Sculptures
- Please bring donations for the Calgary Food Bank
- Lights will be turned on at 6 pm (and will stay on until midnight)
Regular Hours: November 27, 2022 – January 8, 2023: 5:30 pm – Midnight
Holiday Hours: December 24, 25 & 31, 2022 : 5:00 pm – 1 am
Read more at Lions’ Festival of Lights.
6. Drive-Through Christmas Lights Display at Spruce Meadows (Tournament Lane SW)
With a quarter million lights, Spruce Meadows is a winter wonderland. Keep warm and enjoy the lights on the 2-kilometre Christmas Lights driving route. Note that everyone must remain in their vehicles, and the skating rink is closed.
Spruce Meadows 2022 Hours
Friday, December 9 – Sunday, December 11 from 5 p.m.–10 p.m.
Friday, December 16 – Sunday, December 18 from 5 p.m.–10 p.m.
Friday, December 23 and Saturday, December 24 from 5 p.m.–10 p.m. (closed Christmas Day)
Friday, December 30 – Sunday, January 1 from 5 p.m.–10 p.m.
The entrance to the lights is via Spruce Meadows Green and Tournament Lane (on the west side of Spruce Meadows). For more information, visit Spruce Meadows.
7. CP Holiday Train (various stops across Canada)
The CP Rail Holiday Train travels across Canada each year raising funds and collecting donations for North American food banks. “Performing free concerts in support of food banks from Montreal to Calgary are performers Tenille Townes and Aysanabee, while first-time Holiday Train artists McKenzie Porter and Virginia to Vegas will finish out the tour departing out of Calgary and wrapping up in the greater Vancouver area on December 18.”
Dates: The CP Holiday Train departs Montreal on November 22 and arrives in Vancouver on December 18, 2022.
*The Calgary CP Holiday Train event will be at Anderson C-Train Station – South C-train parking lot on Sunday, December 11, 2022 from 5:45 pm – 6:45 pm.*
See the CP Holiday Train Tracker for a holiday train event near you. For more info, visit CP Rail Holiday Train.
Holiday Fun Near Calgary
1. Airdrie Festival of Lights (Nose Creek Park, Airdrie)
Get your glow on at Airdrie Festival of Lights! For the month of December, Nose Creek Park is lit up with over 800 gorgeous light displays nightly. Western Canada’s largest outdoor walk-through Christmas light display also boasts Santa visits (see calendar of events for dates), miniature train rides ($2/ride – Tickets must be purchased in ADVANCE at our Genesis Land Train Station), carolers, bonfires, skating, and cocoa or apple cider ($2/cup).
Special events include a Santa Claus Parade and old fashioned skating party on December 3rd, 18+ event with 948 Brewing Co on December 10th, live entertainment and activities, and Satna’s reindeer on December 23rd.
Dates: December 1-31, 2022 6 pm – 9 pm
Admission is free, but donations are requested to keep this awesome annual tradition going. For more information, visit airdrielights.com.
2. Banff’s Christmas Lighting Trail: In Search of Christmas Spirit (Cascade of Time Garden, Banff)
Venture out “In Search of Christmas Spirit” on Banff’s Christmas Lighting Trail. Allow 45 minutes to walk the gorgeous lantern-lit trail (huge animal lanterns light the way) and listen to the story of how Owl and friends find Christmas spirit. Pre-registration is required but tickets are free. Open Wednesday to Saturday, 5 pm – 10:30 pm.
- November 23 – 26
- November 30 – December 3
- December 7 – December 10
- December 14 – December 17
- December 21 – December 31
5 pm – 10:30 pm
Get your tickets and more info from Banff Lake Louise Tourism. New this year: Check in is at Cascade of Time Garden (NOT at the Banff Park Museum as in past years). Have your digital tickets ready!
3. Mountaintop Christmas at The Banff Gondola (100 Mountain Ave, Banff)
With maple taffy from the Sugar Shack, Santa visits (10:30 am – 2:30 pm), a holiday movie, cookie decorating, crafts, and more, The Banff Gondola’s Mountaintop Christmas is fun for all ages. Get a stunning family photo from the viewing deck or boardwalk at Sulphur Mountain’s summit, and enjoy a delicious Holiday Brunch at Northern Lights Alpine Kitchen (10 am – 2 pm)! For more details, see our story: Banff Gondola’s Mountaintop Christmas makes the season merry and bright.
Hours: Saturdays and Sundays from November 19 – December 18, 2022, 10 am to 3 pm; and daily from December 19-30, 2022, 10 am to 3 pm.
Get tickets and more info from the Banff Gondola.
4. The Polar Express at Aspen Crossing (Mossleigh, AB)
Journey to the North Pole on The Polar Express! The magical one-hour train ride includes a golden train ticket, hot chocolate in a ceramic Polar Express mug, yummy cookie, and entertainment. Expect a reading of The Polar Express™ book (perfect if you haven’t read it or watched the movie), carolers, and visits from story characters. At the North Pole, each child will receive a silver bell from Santa Claus, just like in the movie. “Families are encouraged to wear their pajamas for the ride and join in on the magic of Christmas!”
Dates: Friday to Sunday, November 25 – December 18, 2022. Daily from December 19 to December 24, 2021.
To book your train ride or get more information, visit Aspen Crossing – The Polar Express.
Holiday Performances in Calgary
1. The Nutcracker – Alberta Ballet
The Nutcracker is one of the North America’s most well-known and loved ballets – for good reason! With a magical story and beautiful score, you will fall in love with the ballet whether it’s your first time attending or 20th. On the night before Christmas, Clara dreams about a Nutcracker-turned-prince, Mouse King, and Kingdom of the Sugar Plum Fairy. If you aren’t familiar with the story, we recommend reading it before going to the ballet (especially if you have young children so they won’t keep asking you what’s going on, but kids will still enjoy the dancing, elaborate costumes, and music). Recommended for age 5 & up.
Recognizing that The Nutcracker is a family affair, The Alberta Ballet offers several fun activities for kids including celebrity story time (Mayor Nenshi read to the kids in 2018), crafts, dress-up, and the chance to meet some of the talented dancers!
Dates: The Nutcracker will be performed in Edmonton from December 7-11, 2022; and Calgary from December 16-24, 2022.
Get tickets from The Alberta Ballet.
2. The Jungle Book – Alberta Theatre Projects
The Jungle Book, adapted and directed by Rohit Chokhani, brings the classic Rudyard Kipling story to life with puppetry, custom masks, and movement. “Caught between two worlds, with the support of his friends, Mowgli must search for his sense of self in a quest to discover where he truly belongs.” Suitable for ages 6 & up.
Dates: This Family Holiday Show runs from November 29 to December 31, 2022 at Martha Cohen Theatre.
Get your tickets now at Alberta Theatre Projects.
3. Little Women – Theatre Calgary
Kate Hamill’s adaptation of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, shows the strength, courage, and love of Jo March’s family during the Christmas season in Civil War America. Recommended for ages 8 & up.
Dates: Little Women runs from from December 7 – 31, 2022 at Max Bell Theatre.
Get tickets from Theatre Calgary.
4. Elf The Musical – StoryBook Theatre
Elf The Musical is based on the 2003 movie, Elf, and promises to warm your heart and make you laugh! Follow Buddy, a human who grew up as an elf, travel to New York City to find his father. He gets into shenanigans along the way, but in the end, shows everyone the true meaning of Christmas. Recommended for ages 6 & up.
Dates: This Storybook Theatre production will be performed at Beddington Theatre Arts Centre from November 25 to December 30, 2022.
Put your name on the waitlist here (sold out as of November 22, 2022).
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