From indoor and outdoor light displays to theatre productions, Calgary has Christmas fun for all ages and budgets. Here are some of the best holiday events and light displays 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)
Highlights from Calgary Zoolights 2021 & 2022
With Calgary’s largest Christmas light display (2 million lights!) and fun activities, the The Calgary Zoo’s ZOOLIGHTS is a family favorite. Enjoy the light displays, warm up at outdoor fire pit, get hot cocoa at Kitamba Cafe, ice skate at the West Lawn, try axe throwing; and check out Polar Nights in Prehistoric Park, Boreal Forest Trek through Exploration Asia, beautiful decorations and rentable Snow Globes in Dorothy Harvie Gardens, and Arctic themed decorations in the Enmax Conservatory. Santa visits are available too!
- ZOOLIGHTS Dates: November 17th, 2023 – January 7th, 2024 (EXCEPT: November 28 & 30, December 25, and December 31st )
- Hours: 5 pm – 9 pm.
- Tickets: $14.95 for kids (3-15 years old), $21.95 for adults (16+)
Special Events that include ZOOLIGHTS admission (& require separate tickets):
- Sunlight to ZOOLIGHTS combo ticket: includes Zoo admission from 1 pm – 9 pm so you can visit the animals in the afternoon and stay for ZOOLIGHTS in the evening!
- Beary Merry Holiday Party (18+): Enjoy a dinner buffet, live music, and dancing at Safari Lodge on December 15, 2023 from 5 pm – midnight. $120/person.
- Zoo Year’s Eve (family-friendly) has special activities and an early countdown for the kids!
- Zoo Year’s Eve Late Night (18+) features a light show and late night food and drinks.
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: Saturdays and Sundays, November 25 – December 17, 2023
- Hours: 10:00 am to 4:00 p.m.
- Tickets: Child (3-15): $14.95 plus GST, General (16+): $19.95 plus GST, Annual members get free admission.
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 90,000 square foot space. This year’s dazzling display, Santa’s Sleigh Adventure, features gorgeous light installations, 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.
- Location: Nutrien Western Events Centre
- Dates: December 7 – December 31, 2023 (closed December 11, 12 & 25)
- Hours: Monday to Thursday 4 pm – 9 pm, Friday: 4 pm – 10 pm, Saturday: 12 pm – 10 pm, Sunday: 1 pm – 9 pm.
Get your tickets now at Glow YYC.
4. Telus Spark Silver & Bold (220 Saint George’s Drive NE, Calgary)
Telus Spark’s Silver & Bold is a unique holiday event with lights, science experiments, robots, and more. Visit the Goodnight Moon Digital Immersion Gallery, Spark’s Holiday Countdown (24 immersive spaces to explore), get a photo with Flint the Robot Dog, then pick up a sweet treat at The Snow Lounge or cocktail at The Polar Bar. Save time for the Worlds of Ice film in the Infinity Dome Theatre (included with admission) too!
- Silver & Bold Dates: November 16, 2023, until January 7, 2024 (CLOSED for private events/holidays on December 5, 6, 8, 12, 13, 25, 28, 29, 30; January 3, 5, 6)
- Hours: Mostly days, but open some evenings. See Telus Spark
- Tickets: $26 Adult, $19 Youth (Ages 3-17), Free For Ages 2 And Under, Included with General Admission or a Spark Membership
For information and tickets, visit Telus Spark.
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 from 24 Ave to 31 Ave NW. 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 25, 2023 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 26, 2023 – January 8, 2024: 5:30 pm – Midnight
Holiday Hours: December 24, 25 & 31, 2023 : 5:00 pm – 1 am
Location: 14th St NW and 24th Ave NW
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. If you’d like to walk through the lights, parking in Lot 7 (at the west side of the property). The skating pond is closed for the season, but you can warm up at the the firepits and get cocoa, coffee, and treats at the Founders Plaza.
Spruce Meadows 2022 Dates & Hours
- WEEKEND 1: Friday, December 8–Sunday, December 10 from 5 p.m.–10 p.m.
- WEEKEND 2: Friday, December 15–Sunday, December 17 from 5 p.m.–10 p.m.
- WEEKEND 3: Friday, December 22–Sunday, December 24 from 5 p.m.–10 p.m.
- WEEKEND 4: Friday, December 29– Sunday, December 31 from 5 p.m.–10 p.m.
Location: 18011 Spruce Meadows Way SW (Enter Spruce Meadows via the main gates)
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. This year the Holiday Train celebrates 25 years, and artists Anyway Gang, Breland, Kiesza, McKenzie Porter, Seaforth, Tyler Shaw, Dallas Smith, Tenille Towns, Trudy, and Virginia to Vegas will perform free concerts in support of food banks across the US and Canada.
- The CP Holiday Train will travel across Canada from November 21 December 19, 2023.
- December 9, 2023: The Holiday Train will stop at Calgary’s Anderson C-Train Station (head to the south parking lot) at 5:45 pm. Food bank donations will be accepted from 6 pm – 6:45 pm and Anyway Gang will be performing!
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, fire pits, skating, and cocoa or apple cider ($2/cup).
Special events include a Santa Claus Parade and old fashioned skating party on December 9th, 18+ event with 948 Brewing Co and Atlas Brewing Co on December 16th, live entertainment and activities, and Santa’s reindeer on December 23rd.
- Location: Nose Creek Regional Park, Airdrie
- Dates: December 1-31, 2023
- Hours: 6 pm – 9 pm
- Admission: Donations of $10-20/family, or $1-5/person arriving by bus (cash or card) 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.
- Dates: Select dates from November 17 – December 31, 2023
- Hours: 4:30 pm – 9:30 pm
- Location: Cascade of Time Garden
- Tickets: FREE but must be booked online in advance
Get your tickets and more info from Banff Lake Louise Tourism.
3. Mountaintop Christmas at The Banff Gondola (100 Mountain Ave, Banff)
With maple taffy from the Sugar Shack, Santa visits (10:30 am – 2:00 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, not included with general admission)! For more details, see our story: Banff Gondola’s Mountaintop Christmas makes the season merry and bright.
- Location: The Banff Gondola
- Hours: Saturdays and Sundays from December 2 – December 24, 2023, 10 am to 3 pm; and daily from December 25-30, 2023, 10 am to 3 pm.
- Tickets: $60-69/adult. One free kid’s admission per paying adult when you visit before 12 noon.
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 collector’s mug, yummy cookie, and entertainment. Expect a reading of The Polar Express™ book, 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 24 – December 17, 2023. Daily from December 18 to December 24, 2023.
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 6-10, 2023; and Calgary from December 15-24, 2023.
Get tickets from The Alberta Ballet.
2. A Christmas Carol – Theatre Calgary
Geoffrey Simon Brown’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is a holiday classic. Watch Ebenezer Scrooge get visited by the ghosts of Christmases past, present, and future. Will he change his ways before it’s too late? Recommended for the whole family. 2 hours including intermission.
Dates: A Christmas Carol runs from from November 30 – December 31, 2022 at Max Bell Theatre.
Get tickets from Theatre Calgary.
4. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – StoryBook Theatre
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, based on the 1968 movie of the same name, is an adventurous family-friendly story with a flying car and colorful characters. Recommended for ages 6 & up.
Dates: This Storybook Theatre production will be performed at Beddington Theatre Arts Centre from November 24 to December 30, 2023.