Favorite posts: 12 things to do this Holiday season in Calgary

Everyone here at Kids in Cowtown is busy enjoying their holidays and chasing after their kids. If you are also frantically trying to  think of an activity to keep your kids amused, check out one of our favorite posts from this last year! (Some of the things from this post have past but there are still some great ideas to do with the kids!)

by Ellen Percival, Calgary’s Child Magazine

Bundle up the kids and head on out to create some wonderful holiday memories. From winter picnics… to the beautiful music of the season and everything in between, here are some of our favorite ideas to make this holiday extra special for you and your family.

1.      The City is All Aglow With Millions of Twinkling Lights


  • Zoolights at the Calgary Zoo to Jan. 2; 6 to 9pm – gates close at 8:30pm (closed Christmas Day and excludes Zoo Year’s Eve); Every year, people of all ages head to the Calgary Zoo to enjoy hot chocolate, fire pits, snow bowling and the display of 1.5 million twinkling lights. The Zoo Lights are open every day from 6pm to 9pm (gates close at 8:30pm), finishing on Sunday, January 3 (excluding Christmas day and New Year’s Eve). Admission for adults is $10 and admission for children is $6.
  • Lions Club Festival of Lights – Confederation Park – 14 Street – 24 Avenue NW.  For many Calgary families, the annual visit to the Lions Club annual light display marks the beginning of the Christmas Season.  Located on the east side of the Confederation Golf Course, you’ll find thousands of glowing lights displayed in beautiful Christmas themes. See Merry Christmas written in 17 languages at the 23rd Annual Lions Festival of Lights located at Confederation Park. The display is illuminated daily from 7pm to Midnight until January 8. This is a free event.
  • McDougall Centre – 455-6 Street SW.  The Christmas Lights on these beautifully kept grounds are a joy to behold.
  • Olympic Plaza 228 – 8 Avenue SE.  Originally built for medal presentations during the 1988 Winter Olympics, Olympic Plaza is a great place to bring the family to enjoy a day of skating. The rink is open to the public daily from 10am to 9pm until the middle of March, depending on the weather. Grab your ice-skates and glide amongst the lights.
  • Airdire Festival of Lights Nose Creek Park – Airdire, Alberta. December 1 to 31, nightly from 6 to 9pm. 20 minute drive north from Calgary on QE II Highway.  Experience the glow as you walk through a wintry world of twinkling holiday lights. Sip on a cup of hot chocolate while standing beside a roaring fire. Watch the glow as you gleefully ride the miniature trains around a frozen pond! For more information, visit airdriefestivaloflights.com.
  • Downtown Calgary – Downtown Calgary lights up beautifully, enjoy twinkling office towers and the decorated lobbies of office buildings and hotels. Stephen Avenue Mall glows from top to bottom.

2.      Once Upon a Christmas At Heritage Park – Weekends to December 19, 9am to 4pm.
Take a horse-drawn wagon ride, shop for unique gifts, make crafts, sing carols and visit with Santa. For more information, contact 403-268-8500 or visitheritagepark.ca.

3.      Christmas with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra Handel’s Messiah
Friday, December 3, 2010 – 7:30pm
Saturday, December 4, 2010 – 7:30pm
Epcor Centre’s Jack Singer Concert Hall

Hallelujah! Handel’s Messiah returns with the message of peace and hope that has inspired audiences for centuries. With an outstanding cast of soloists and the CPO debut of Canada’s young maestro, Jean-Marie Zeitouni, this will be a truly uplifting performance.

Sing-Along Messiah: Dec 6, $19,

Performance Date: 12/5/2010, 2:00 pm
Be part of the biggest choir in town as you join the Calgary Philharmonic Chorus and superb soloists in this joyous rendition of all your favourite Messiah choruses. A great holiday afternoon of musical delight! Also, join the CPO in supporting the Calgary Inter-Faith Food Bank and drop off your non-perishable food items in the lobby. Buy your tickets online or phone the CPO Box Office at 403.571.0849.

4.      88.9 Shine FM and Calgary’s Child Magazine Present Winter Wonderland At Cardel Place! December 11, 1 to 5pm;
A day full of family fun! There will be interactive games and an instrument petting zoo, magicians, buskers, carolers and mascots, fun wintry sports and so much more! For full details, visit shinefm.com.

5.      Skiing – Getting the family together to go to the mountains can be difficult to squeeze into a busy lifestyle of work and school. Calgary’s Canada Olympic Park (COP) is the convenient and fun solution to that problem. Hills for all skill levels and a half pipe are all located at 88 Canada Olympic Road SW, just off of the TransCanada Highway. COP is open Monday to Friday 9am to 9pm; Saturday, Sunday and holidays 9am to 5pm.  Snowboarding: Not a skier? Take advantage of lessons at COP for individuals of all ages and abilities. Take the initiative with private lessons or family private lessons.

6.      Plus 15’s – Don’t be wary of exploring the streets of downtown Calgary because of the chilly weather. Take advantage of the world’s most extensive pedestrian skywalk system spanning across 16 kilometres and enjoy the snow covered streets without the parkas and snow pants.

7.      Winter hikes – Some great areas that are suited for the whole family include Heart Creek Trail just 45 minutes from Calgary. It is an easy half-day hike on mainly flat ground, which follows a creek. Also, Bow Valley Provincial Park located less than an hour west of Calgary is a great way to get moving and enjoy the outdoors.


8.      Frosty Snowman Ideas – Few things can warm up a yard or park like a snowman. The snow conditions must be just right. If you can make a tight snowball with the snow, then you have great snowman making material. Typically a snowman has a carrot nose, button eyes and charcoal mouth, plus a borrowed old hat and scarf. Don’t let this be your only choice. Here are some ideas:

Add six drops of food coloring to a litre of water and put it in a fine mist spray bottle or old ketchup bottle. Use the bottle like a pen and make markings to add color to your snowman creation (try stripes, dots, solid colors, etc.).

Sticks, rocks, berries, twigs and leaves all make wonderful snowman decorations.

Use different size containers to mold snow pets for your snowman. How about a green alligator or a pink elephant?

Line up a lot of snowballs and make a snow caterpillar. Let the kids go for a pretend ride.

Make an active snowman… surfing, skiing, playing a snow instrument, dancing.

Decorate your snowman with things that birds would like to eat. Try a berry and nut necklace!

Have a contest to see who can make the tallest or fattest or funniest, etc. snowman.

Play toss the hat on the Snowman. Take turns with a hat (or Frisbee) to see who can toss the hat onto the head of the snowman.

9.      Pack up the kids and go on a Winter Picnic! –  Bring snacks and firewood, and head to a park near you. Check out calgary.ca/parks to find locations near you and also how to get a permit (firewood is included with a permit), if required. Or take a winter hike and discover the beauty of nature in winter on trails in Calgary’s natural area environment parks or on cleared pathways.

10.   Scavenger Hunt – Make a list of winter items, get the kids to help you with this beforehand, then go out and see how many you can find. A short list of 10 items is great, and learning about what there is in nature in winter.


11.  Head For The Toboggan Hills – Head for the hills with your toboggan, inner tube, or sled! And always play safe – wear a helmet on your head!

  • Calgary Marlborough Community Association, 636 Marlborough Way NE
  • Confederation Park (East), 2807-10 St NW
  • Deerfoot Athletic Park, 1604-14 Ave NE
  • Elliston, 60 St & 17 Ave SE
  • Erin Woods, 20 Erinwoods Dr SE
  • Kingsland Dry Pond, 502 Heritage Dr SW (behind arenas)
  • Glenbrook Hill, 45 St & 25 Ave SW
  • Maple Ridge Dry Pond, Mapleglade Cl SE
  • Marlborough Park Community Association, 6021 Madigan Dr NE
  • Monterey Park – Catalina Blvd & 28 Ave NE
  • Prairie Winds Park, 223 Castleridge Blvd NE
  • Richmond Green, 33 Ave & 25 St SW
  • Richmond Park, 22 Ave & 45 St SW
  • River Park, 4500-14A St SW
  • St. Andrew’s Heights, 2504-13 Ave NW
  • Scarboro, 15 Ave & 15 St SW
  • Scirroco Joint Site, Scirroco Dr & Signal Hill Hts SW
  • Stanley Park, 4011-1A St SW •
  • Strathcona, 277 Strathcona Dr SW
  • Turtle Hill, On 45 St btwn 17 Ave & 26 Ave SW •
  • West Glamorgan, 4207-41 Ave SW

12. Take in a Play, Concert or Performance

Our Events Calendar is filled to the brim with seasonal performances sure to delight families of every age including: Calgary Youth Singers production of Elves, the North Pole Musical; Calgary Young People’s Theatre presents Alice in Wonderland; CPO Presents, A Traditional Christmas At Grace Presbyterian Church; Absolute Dance presents, The Nutcracker; Music for a Winter Evening, featuring the Corpus Christi Male Chorale, is hosting a very special guest artist this year. Steve Bell is a singer/songwriter and award-winning artist; Cantare Children’s Choir presents, Celebrate the Seasons and Family Skate Night at the Village Square Leisure Centre. Visithttp://www.calgaryschild.com/calendar/calendar.php for all the details

Ellen is the publisher of Calgary’s Child Magazine, Calgary’s favorite parenting magazine. Pick up Calgary’s Child Magazine free at more than 600 locations in and around Calgary, read it on-line at calgaryschild.com and because parenting is 24/7, you’ll find us at www.facebook.com/calgaryschild


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