Home Destinations 2021 Holiday Fun in Calgary & Area

2021 Holiday Fun in Calgary & Area

by Karen Ung

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 and wish you a happy and healthy holiday season.

Get in the holiday spirit with Christmas fun in Calgary!

Here are our top picks for holiday fun in Calgary:

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 ZOOLIGHTSis 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 new “Tunnel of Light,” “Dinos in the Dark,” and Nutcracker themed decorations in the Enmax Conservatory. Social-distanced Santa visits are available too!

Dates: November 19, 2021 – January 2, 2022 (except Christmas Day) from 5 pm – 9 pm.

For more details, tickets, and the complete schedule, visit Calgary Zoo – ZOOLIGHTS. Read about our experience in this story: Calgary ZOOLIGHTS shines brighter than ever for its 25th Anniversary.

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 – including the Sandstone House for the first time ever – 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, 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: December 4 & 5, 11 & 12, 18 & 19; and December 20 to 23, 2021. 10:00 am to 4:00 p.m.

To purchase tickets or get more information, visit Heritage Park – Once Upon a Christmas.

Holiday in the Park Christmas Light Festival at Heritage Park (1900 Heritage Dr SW, Calgary)

In 2021, for the first time, there will be a Christmas Light Festival at Heritage Park! This is a ticketed event that features Christmas lights, decorations, ice sculptures, Santa visits, and live entertainment; and supports local businesses and food banks.



Christmas Lights Festival Dates:

  • Sunday, November 28th – Tuesday, November 30th;
  • Sunday, December 5th – Tuesday, December 7th;
  • Sunday, December 12th – Tuesday, December 14th;
  • Sunday, December 19th – Thursday, December 23rd;
  • and Friday, December 31st.

Hours: 5 pm – 10 pm

To purchase tickets or get more information, visit Christmas Lights Festival | Fab Events. Please bring cash or food bank donations for the Calgary Food Bank and Veterans Food Bank of Calgary.

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.

Hours: Wednesdays to Sundays from November 25, 2021 – December 19, 2021, 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm.

Holiday Hours: Daily December 20, 2021 – January 2, 2022 (closed Mondays and Tuesdays until December 20th; closed December 4, 24, December 25, and December 31), 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm

Get tickets and details at Telus Spark. Free for ages 2 & under. Read about our experience in Get your glow on at Telus Spark’s Sparkle Sparkle.

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. Read more at Lions’ Festival of Lights. (Note: The 2020/2021 season was drive-by only. Fingers crossed we can walk through the park in 2021/2022!)

Regular hours: November 27, 2021 – January 9, 2022: 6 pm – midnight.

Holiday hours: December 24, 25, & 31: 5:00 pm – 1 am.

Drive Through Christmas Lights Display at Spruce Meadows

Christmas lights at Spruce Meadows
The Christmas Lights at Spruce Meadows are spectacular. | Image credit: Spruce Meadows Media

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. The skating rink is closed this year. Also, the new entrance is at Tournament Lane (west side of Spruce Meadows). For more information, visit Spruce Meadows.

Hours

Friday, December 10 – Sunday, December 12 from 5 p.m.–10 p.m.
Friday, December 17 – Sunday, December 19 from 5 p.m.–10 p.m.
Friday, December 24 and Sunday, December 26 from 5 p.m.–10 p.m. (closed Christmas Day)
Friday, December 31 – Sunday, January 2 from 5 p.m.–10 p.m. 

CP Holiday Train At Home

CP Holiday Train
Support the CP Holiday Train’s Food Bank Drive and watch a free concert! | Image credit: CP Holiday Train

The CP Holiday Train travels across Canada each year raising funds and collecting donations for North American food banks. This year, Steven Page and The Strumbellas will headline a special CP Holiday Train at Home Concert featuring The Trews, Sierra Noble, Odds, Tanika Charles, Aysanabee and Keb’ Mo’. For details, visit CP Rail Holiday Train at Home.

Date: Saturday, December 18, 2021; 6 pm Mountain Time.

Holiday Fun Near Calgary

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), carolers, bonfires, skating, and cocoa or apple cider ($2/cup). Admission is free, but donations are requested to keep this awesome annual tradition going.

Special events include Santa visits, performances by Ambition Performing Arts Inc., Santa’s Reindeer on December 22nd, and the New Year’s Eve Family Dance Party on December 31st from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm. For more information, visit airdrielights.com.

Dates: December 1-31, 2021 6 pm – 9 pm

Banff’s Christmas Lighting Trail: In Search of Christmas Spirit (Banff Park Museum, 91 Banff Ave, Banff)

Venture out “In Search of Christmas Spirit” on Banff’s Christmas Lighting Trail. Allow 45 minutes to walk the lantern-lit trail (huge animal lanterns light the way) and listen to the story. Pre-registration is required but tickets are free.

Dates:

  • Wednesday – Saturday from November 24 to December 18, 2021; 5:00 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.
  • Daily from December 22, 2021 to January 1, 2022; 5:00 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.

Get your tickets and more info from Banff Lake Louise Tourism.

Mountaintop Christmas at The Banff Gondola (100 Mountain Ave, Banff)

With maple taffy from the Sugar Shack, Santa visits, a holiday movie, cookie decorating & craft kits (DIY at home this year), 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. Make it extra special with door to door service from the Elf Express! For more details, see our story: The Elf Express & Banff Gondola’s Mountaintop Christmas make the season merry and bright.

Dates: Weekends from November 20 – December 19, 2021, 10 am to 3 pm; and daily from December 20-30, 10 am to 3 pm. Get tickets from the Banff Gondola.

The Polar Express at Aspen Crossing (Mossleigh, AB)

aspen crossing polar express train
The Polar Express at Aspen Crossing is bucketlist-worthy. | Image credit: Kyle Bullock, The Bullock Life

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 pyjamas for the ride and join in on the magic of Christmas!”

Dates: Friday to Sunday, November 26 – December 12, 2021. Daily from December 17 to December 24, 2021.

To book your train ride or get more information, visit Aspen Crossing – The Polar Express.

Holiday Performances in Calgary

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 when were there!), crafts, dress-up, and the chance to meet some of the talented dancers!

The Nutcracker will be performed in Calgary from December 10-24, 2021. Get tickets from The Alberta Ballet.

In Wonderland – Alberta Theatre Projects

In Wonderland, Alberta Theatre’s latest show, is inspired by Lewis Carroll’s classic novels, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Follow Alice down the rabbit hole as she enters a magical world and discovers who she wants to be. This whimsical coming of age tale is written for a cast of three and features creative lighting and projections (stage magic). Suitable for age 6 & up.

Runs November 23-December 31, 2021 (show dates extended as of December 6, 2021) at Martha Cohen Theatre. For more information or tickets, visit Alberta Theatre Projects.

See what we loved about the performance in our story: Alberta Theatre Projects “In Wonderland” holiday show is magical.

A Christmas Carol – Theatre Calgary

A Christmas Carol - Theatre Calgary - Image Credit Trudie Lee
Stephen Hair as Ebenezer Scrooge and the cast of ‘A Christmas Carol’ (pre-COVID) | Image credit: Trudie Lee

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is a timeless Christmas classic. In Theatre Calgary’s rendition, visit Ebenezer Scrooge’s Christmases past, present, and future to understand the true meaning of Christmas and what is truly important.

A Christmas Carol will be performed by a 3-person cast this season, from November 30-December 24, 2021. Get tickets from Theatre Calgary.

The Sound of Music in Concert – StoryBook Theatre

The Sound of Music is one of the most popular musicals of all time. StoryBook Theatre will be performing the classic hits from the show in concert format. If tickets are sold out, you can purchase streaming tickets and enjoy the show from the comfort of your own home. Recommended for ages 6 & up.

This Storybook Theatre production will be performed at Beddington Theatre Arts Centre from November 26 to December 19. Get tickets for theatre or online streaming performances here.

Holidays at Home – Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra

This Christmas season, enjoy Christmas favorites performed by the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra from home. The concert includes Antonio Vivaldi’s Winter, performed by Concertmaster Diana Cohen, and his Concerto for Two Trumpets, featuring Adam Zinatelli and Miranda Cairns, plus popular Christmas carols.

Date: December 18, 2021, 7:30 pm

Register online for FREE access at Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra | Holidays at Home.

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