Last updated: February 3rd, 2020
Canada is a country that is known for its winter. From cold weather to deep snow, Canada is one of the greatest places on Earth to experience a true winter. Because of this, it’s also a great place to experience Christmas, especially if you’re looking for a white Christmas. We’ve written articles about Christmas in Canada, as well as destinations to experience Christmas in Canada, but now we’d like to focus on our home city of Calgary, Alberta.
Nestled in the foothills just next to the wonderful Canadian Rockies, Calgary is an incredible place to spend the Christmas Holidays. Whether you’re looking for holiday cheer in the city or an epic ski vacation to Banff National Park, a Calgary Christmas is a wonderful place to spend your Christmas holidays.
Christmas Activities in Calgary
In this article, we want to focus on things you can do during Christmas in Calgary. From incredible displays of Christmas lights to festive events, we hope we inspire you to visit Calgary during the Christmas season.
Skating at Olympic Plaza
If you’re looking to get outside and do some skating, one of the best places is the rink at Olympic Plaza, which is right in front of Calgary’s city hall. What makes this place great is that it’s located right downtown and offers a beautiful skating rink with a big Christmas tree in the middle. There’s also a fire pit at certain times and the rink is well cared for. In fact, there’s even a Zamboni that cleans the ice each day! If you have skates, it’s free, but if you need to rent skates, you can do that as well. Another great thing about skating at Olympic Plaza is that it’s right at the end of Stephen Avenue, which is Calgary’s most beautiful and historic street. At Christmas, it’s full of festive lights as well as home to a number of stores, restaurants, and bars.
Calgary Zoo Lights
If you’re looking for Christmas lights in Calgary, there’s no better place to go than Calgary Zoo Lights. Held annually from late November to the beginning of January, Calgary Zoo Lights is home to 2,000,000 (yes, two million!) Christmas lights, which are displayed beautifully around the Calgary Zoo. You’ll find massive decorated trees, lights in the shape of various animals, romantic light tunnels, and much more. In fact, Calgary Zoo Lights is home to much more than Christmas lights. Although you won’t see the animals (it’s far too much stress for them), you will find activities such as axe throwing, skating, and various arts and crafts for the kids. The cost of admission ranges from $20 – $30 depending on age, and you’ll have to pay $12 for parking as well. However, you can also access the Calgary Zoo via the C-train.
Once Upon a Christmas at Heritage Park
If you’re looking for something festive to do with the kids, or maybe even with those adults who truly love everything about Christmas, you might be interested in a Heritage Park Christmas. In the summer months, Heritage Park is home to a living history museum with old houses and buildings, a steam train, an old sternwheeler boat, and so much more. But during the Christmas season between late November and late December, they turn Heritage Park into a Christmas playground, which is perfect for the whole family. You’ll find carollers singing Christmas carols, old historic homes decorated in traditional Christmas ornaments from the old times, a place for kids to meet Santa, and so much more. It’s also a special experience to walk around a “historic town” that’s covered in snow. Plus, you’ll find bakeries selling cookies, stores selling Christmas ornaments, and even a restaurant if you’re looking for a special dinner.
Spruce Meadows Christmas Market
Another great thing about Calgary is all the Christmas markets. In fact, there might be more Christmas markets in Alberta than anywhere else in the country. There is a variety of them all over the place but the biggest of them all is Spruce Meadows Christmas Market. This place is massive and feels like you’ve entered a mall just before Christmas. It’s very busy but also has hundreds of little shops selling everything from homemade items to common things you can find in bigger stores.
Saskatoon Farm Christmas Market
As mentioned above, we can’t go into all the Christmas markets around Calgary, but another favourite is the one at the Saskatoon Farm (about 20 minutes south of Calgary), which is held on various weekends in December. Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus were just awesome this year.
Christmas Trees Calgary
If you’re looking to see Christmas trees decorated with Christmas lights, the best place to go is Calgary Zoo Lights. However, if you want to see indoor Christmas trees, there are a variety of places to see that as well. First of all, you could visit one of the many malls such as Chinook Centre. The malls always decorate trees indoors, which allows you to enjoy the Christmas trees without battling the elements.
Christmas Stores Calgary
Just like any major city, Calgary has no shortage of places to shop. From retail stores to Christmas markets, there are all sorts of places to look for Christmas gifts or Christmas ornaments. If you’re looking specifically for a Christmas store, there are a variety of them, including Destination Christmas, Christmas Wonderland, and a variety of small Christmas shops in smaller towns like Okotoks and Banff.
Christmas Lights in Calgary
Without a doubt, the best place to see Christmas lights in Calgary is at Calgary Zoo Lights. Nowhere else can you see such an elaborate display featuring two million Christmas lights. However, you’ll also find them throughout various communities as well as in downtown Calgary. Another fun thing to do is to drive into a residential community at night and see all the decorated homes. Not everyone decorates their homes but many do.
Christmas in the Mountains
Another benefit of spending the Christmas season in Calgary is that the Rocky Mountains are just over an hour away! Places like Banff and Lake Louise are very special places to visit in the winter, as they truly embody the “White Christmas” spirit. With dramatic mountains towering over small tourist towns and frozen lakes, the Canadian Rockies just west of Calgary will certainly blow your minds. Some popular things to do including taking the Banff Gondola up to the top of Sulphur Mountain, walking around the main street of Banff, and going for a skate on Lake Louise.
Winter in Canada is a very special time of year. Sure, it’s cold, but it’s also incredibly beautiful and brings to life a variety of awesome outdoor experiences such as snowshoeing, ice skating, and cross-country skiing. There are many places to experience Christmas in Canada, but one of the best is the city of Calgary, Alberta.
For more on things to do in Canada during the winter, check out these articles below:
- Driving from Banff to Jasper
- Things to Do in Golden, BC
- Where to Experience Christmas in Canada
- Winter in Canada
- Things to Do in Banff National Park
- Things to Do in Calgary