It’s here, friends. The year’s most romantic, most heartwarming … and most expensive month has hit the calendar and with so much to see and do, it’s important we remember that boxes will need to be filled and wrapped for your loved ones. So how does one have it all without misusing your credit card, you may be asking? By staying on top of the cheap and free things happening in and around Calgary this December. Here are just 17 to get you started.
BUILD & EXPLORE CALGARY’S XMAS LIGHTS MAP
The holiday season is officially here and that means it’s time to check out all of the lights, events, and decorations around town. We know that it can be a handful to try and find all of the best places to visit so we created a map for you. From small, home displays to larger-than-life decorations, you’ll find it all. Even better, you can add your picks to the map!
Where: Click above to see our picks
CHECK OUT THE SASKATOON FARM CHRISTMAS MARKET
This Christmas, shoppers can enjoy the holiday season for less, by shopping goods made by local artists, bakers, and pro crafters at the Saskatoon Farm Christmas Market! Meet and greet special guests, including Santa Claus and the Grinch, and indulge in some incredible tasty snacks! We’re talking fresh mini donuts, kettle corn, soft pretzels, and cinnamon buns (just to name a few). Yum!
When: Friday, December 10th – 12th
Where: 80181 338 Ave East Foothills, AB
Time: See times above
NOG YOURSELF OUT AT SIPPIN’ SANTA
Thirsty? Check out Ricardo’s iconic tropical holiday pop-up! Here guests can enjoy classic sips like their Kringle Kolada, Christmas Eve of Destruction and of course their sippin’ Santa, as well as brand new drinks like their white Russian Christmas and Yule Log Grog (just to name a few.)
When: Until December 31st
Where: 1530 5 St SW, Calgary, AB
HAVE A ‘CHRISTMAS TO REMEMBER’ AT GRANARY ROAD
This season, shop the annual Christmas to Remember Market’ at Calgary’s Granary Road FOR FREE! Featuring vendors selling everything from art to food; adorable holiday alpaca’s and of course, the big man himself – this enchanting event will bring a little magic to your winter season.
When: Saturdays and Sundays until December 19th
Where: 226066 112 St W, Foothills County, AB
Time: 9 am – 5 pm
HIT THE MIRACLE ON 1ST STREET POPUP
Seriously, if tasty popups aren’t the best free and cheap thing to do this December, we don’t know what is. Serving Xmas-themed cocktails in a variety of Christmas mugs and glasses, Miracle of 1st Street will return again this year to completely transform Calgary’s Proof cocktail bar with over-the-top decorations from floor to ceiling Don’t miss out!
When: Until December 24th
Where: 1302 1 St SW, Calgary, AB
ENJOY LEGACY’S FREE LIGHT DISPLAY
Bundle up – and don’t forget your to-go mugs – because the Legacy community light walk has kicked off in YYC. Until January 16th, this affordable event with light the night with over a million tiny bulbs strung up on everything from the clock tower to the houses.
When: Until, January 16th
Where: Legacy Calgary – See directions here
WANDER THE CALGARY CHRISTMAS MARKET
With thoughtfully crafted goods from all the OG vendors, you know & love, 12 additional seasonal vendors, fresh Christmas trees, and tons of unreal food – the market is the perfect place to hit up this weekend to get in the holiday spirit and start crossing off your Christmas list. Plus, they’ve got tons of activities for kiddos going on too!
When: Until December 23rd
Where: Calgary Farmers Market, 510 77th Avenue SE, Calgary
OR SHOP THE MARKET COLLECTIVE HOLIDAY SERIES
This December, support local businesses at the annual Holiday Market Collective! Bring your friends, family, and credit card (of course) and enjoy the many vendors, the endless items, and the spirit of Christmas. Just make sure you save some dough for eating and drinking afterward though – you’ll more than likely work up an appetite.
When: Friday, December 10th – 12th and 17th – 19th
Where: 20 Roundup Way SE, Calgary (Hall B and C)
Time: See times above
Cost: $6 for the weekend
VISIT THE BEAR STREET HOLIDAY MARKET
Fill up and hit the road! This month, you can grab yourself a hot chocolate and take a long stroll through the beautiful (and new) Bear Street Holiday market in Alberta’s favourite mountain town of Banff! Check out food stalls, local vendors, and more on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays until December 24th.
When: Until December 24th
Where: Bear Street – Banff, Alberta
GET IN FOR FREE AT THE NATIONAL MUSIC CENTRE
Can’t wait until the 25th to receive a gift? Christmas has come early at Calgary’s National Music Centre where they’ll actually be offering free admission Saturdays and Sundays in celebration of Studio Bell’s 5th anniversary- check out the link above for more information!
Where: 850 4 St SE, Calgary, AB
TAKE IN AIRDRIE’S FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS
Did you know that Western Canada’s largest free outdoor walk-through Christmas light display was in Airdrie? It’s true and this year they’ll be celebrating their 25th anniversary – for the second year in a row. Due to last year’s cancellation, this 2021 will be their biggest yet – so don’t miss it!
When: December 1st- December 31st, 2021
Where: Nose Creek Park in Airdrie, AB
Time: 6 pm – 9 pm
DEFEAT SOME WET BANDITS AT THE HOME ALONE POPUP BAR
This holiday season, in celebration of the beloved classic Home Alone, Eighty-Eight Brewing co. in Calgary will take holiday lovers beyond their living room screens for an immersive experience unlike any other. Thanks to detailed superfans and decorator extraordinaire’s, the entire YYC taphouse will be transformed floor-to-ceiling with booby traps and tinsel, garland, and balls. Heck, you may even run into a wet bandit or two! Check it out!
When: All December long
Where: 2600 Portland St SE #1070, Calgary
TASTE TEST YOUR WAY DOWN THE HOT CHOCOLATE TRAIL
Need a day away? This December, head to Banff and wet your whistle with 20 different hot chocolates from cafes, restaurants, bars, and convenience stores all over Banff and Lake Louise. Each drink is uniquely themed, holiday-centric, and only available for a limited time, so mark down your favourites from the list above and head out!
When: Until January 1st
Where: See locations above
TAKE SOME PHOTOS AT THE LIONS’ PARK FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS
Want to see something really special? This winter, take in the beautiful lights along 14th street from inside your vehicle. Crank the heat us, grab a hot choco and roll through an incredible display – for free!
When: Saturday, November 27 to January 9, 2022
Where: Confederation Golf Course – 14th Street NW, Calgary
Time: 6 pm – 12 am
RENT A FIREPIT
Get ready, s’more lovers. After an incredibly successful 2020, the free Calgary community fire pits will soon be back and available to the public in hopes of warming the chillier months. Check out the link above for where and how you can rent one of these bad boys!
OLYMPIC PLAZA SKATING RINK
Calgarians looking to lace up and take a lap can finally feel the wind through their hair downtown! This December, check out Calgary’s Olympic Plaza, one of the city’s favourite ice skating rinks.
Where: 228 8 Ave. SE, Calgary
Time: 6 am – 11 pm
END YOUR SEARCH FOR CHRISTMAS SPIRIT
In Search of Christmas Spirit? Find it in Banff, where a heartwarming story will be told through a brand new light display of colour, illumination, and music. This event is brand new to the mountain town and is totally FREE to attend so check it out!
When: Various dates from November 24th – January 1st
Where: 91 Banff Ave, Banff, AB
Well, there you have it, friends. 17 free and cheap things to do this December in Calgary! Enjoy yourselves out there!
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