While hunkering down for an evening of Netflix, a warm blanket and a cup of hot chocolate may sound better than braving the elements, there are so many festive events going on in this city this month that it’s worth every chilly second.
If you’re looking for a good reason to leave the house, we’ve rounded up some of the best free (or almost-free) events happening in Calgary in December. Choose your favourite, or try to attend them all!
Please note that all of the events listed below are for the 2018 holiday season.
December 1 to December 22
12:00-4:00 pm (Saturdays) | FREE
Kensington turns into a winter wonderland during the month of December, where you can partake in horse and wagon rides, public movies (by donation), hot chocolate and more. You might even see Santa walking around.
November 15 to December 23
Calgary Farmers Market – 510-77th Ave. SE
9:00 am-5:00 pm, Thursday to Sunday | FREE
The Calgary Farmers Market transforms into a wonderland of seasonal goodies until just before Christmas. On top of live entertainment and mulled wine tasting, you can pick up last-minute gifts and decor to your heart’s desire.
December 19 to December 24
Next to Heritage Park at the marina (lower boat parking area)
7:00-9:00 pm | FREE
Expect fully-costumed actors, live animals (sheep selfie included), songs from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and a miraculous story at the 55th annual Calgary Nativity Pageant, which takes place every 20 minutes from 7-9 pm daily in the week leading up to Christmas. Enjoy the free parking, and don’t forget to dress warm and bring a blanket.
December 2 to January 8
Confederation Park – 14th St. NW, north of 24th Ave.
6:00 pm-12:00 am | FREE
The best part about this event is the half-a-million LEDs and holiday displays that bring a burst of colour to 14th Street. The second best part is you don’t have to leave your vehicle! Slowly drive by and enjoy the ride, or get out at Confederation Park and walk around to get a better look.
November to March
Olympic Plaza – 228 8 Ave. SE
10:00 am-9:00 pm | FREE
Don your finest festive attire (or just an ugly Christmas sweater) and go skating with friends and family on the outdoor rink at Olympic Plaza. Admission is free with your own skates, but affordable rentals are available on site.
Bonus: If you’re really into skating, there’s also a free Boxing Day skate on Dec. 26 from 1:00-2:15 pm at select indoor rinks.
November 24 to December 23
Heritage Park – 1900 Heritage Dr. SW
9:30 am-4:00 pm (Weekends) | $5.70-11
Take a horse-drawn wagon around Heritage Park (go early to avoid the line and get a free ride) before singing carols and making crafts with the kids. For those looking for an extra unique experience, a few historic homes open their doors for a peek into local family traditions.
December 16 to December 30
Lougheed House – 707 13th Ave. SW
11:00 am-4:00 pm (Opens at 10:00 am on weekends) | FREE to $8.50
Have you ever wanted to celebrate Christmas in true vintage fashion? The halls of this Victorian mansion are completely decked in holiday cheer. Upcoming events include a live performance of A Christmas Carol, and there’s even an escape room and activities for kids. Surround yourself with traditional trees, stained glass windows, nutcrackers and more.
November 23 to January 5
Calgary Zoo – 210 St. George’s Drive NE
6:00-9:00 pm | $15-20
How can you pass up two million twinkling lights? Every year, the Calgary Zoo is decked out in festive displays, fire pits and activity zones that will keep the whole family entertained. Santa Claus himself pays a visit to the ENMAX conservatory every night at 6 pm during the festival (until Dec. 23).