By MICHAELA RITCHIE
For some of you, Christmas has been top of mind for the past several months—but now that we’re just weeks away, the rest of us can no longer deny: ’tis the season! To help get you and yours’ in a festive mood, here are 25 of our favourite local celebrations and holiday traditions that you can take part in to count down the days until Christmas!
(If Christmas just isn’t your cup of holiday cheer, never fear! We threw in a couple of chilly activities, sans festivities, down below for getting out around town and making the most of our city at this jolly time of year—so keep scrolling, and get ready to bundle up!)
A Christmas Carol (Nov. 23 – Dec. 24)
Get into the spirit of the season with this Calgarian Christmas classic. Local legend Stephen Hair returns for his 24th season as penny-pinching business man Ebenezer Scrooge in this annual production by Theatre Calgary, which this year celebrates its 50th anniversary under new leadership from Artistic Director Stafford Arima. Join Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, and the spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Future for a heart-warming night of magic and music.
A Charlie Brown Christmas (Nov. 30 – Dec. 17)
Why settle for one great show when you can enjoy twice the fun with this double-billing at Storybook Theatre? Step into the world of the Peanuts with a recreation of the Tony Award winning musical You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown. Once the show is over, stick around as the cast brings part two, A Charlie Brown Christmas, to life on stage. This whimsical holiday classic is sure to entertain for audiences of all ages!
Once Upon a Christmas (Nov. 25 – Dec. 23)
Experience the wonders of Christmases gone by with a trip back in time at Heritage Park! The historic homes and businesses of this little prairie village open their doors each weekend throughout the season, sharing the tidings and traditions of old with park visitors. Give your Christmas wish list to Santa when you visit his sleigh, discover a giant holiday train display, or hop aboard a holiday wagon and take a ride with the resident reindeer… er, horses! Shopping, crafting, cookie decorating, and “snow-painting” open for your family’s enjoyment!
The Santaland Diaries (Nov. 27 – Dec. 23)
This Lunchbox Theatre show is stirring up some laughs by playing to the naughty elf in all of us. Based on the bestselling adventures of David Sedaris, who once worked as an elf at a Macy’s Santaland himself, this story follows a down-on-his-luck New York City actor as he finds himself in the exact same predicament. Turns out making a little Christmas magic happen can be anything but holly-jolly!
A Traditional Christmas (Nov. 30 – Dec. 2)
This concert by the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra is pure Christmas, exactly as you remember it! With the Grace Presbyterian Church setting a wintery stage, the Calgary Girl’s Choir performs classic holiday carols and family favourites, without which no Christmas celebration would be complete. Hark! These herald angels sing!
Granary Road’s First Christmas (Dec. 1-23)
Nothing is quite so special as your very first Christmas, so come help the crew at Granary Road celebrate theirs with eclectic gift shopping, hay rides, a petting zoo, skating rink, and North Pole Family Fun area. Don’t forget to pucker up for a fun holiday photo-op—festive alpacas are dressed to impress and waiting to meet you under the mistletoe!
Music for a Winter Evening (Dec. 6)
Join award-winning singer and songwriter Steve Bell and poet Malcolm Guite as the delightful duo shares an evening of sonnets and songs to kickstart the Christmas season. One hundred per cent of the funds raised at this concert will be donated to support women escaping violence and recovering from addiction.
A Classic Christmas (Dec. 7)
Time to dust off those ugly Christmas sweaters! Join the festive folks at Heritage Park for a citywide family dinner, served buffet style and complete with classic jazz tunes, Christmas trivia, and an ugly Christmas sweater contest! We recommend feasting on a slice of that bourbon brined Heritage Turkey! Bon appétit!
A Swinging Little Christmas (Dec. 8-9)
Part of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra’s The Magic of Christmas series, celebrated pianist and vocalist Tony DeSare will grace the Jack Singer Concert Hall stage, backed by the live in-house orchestra, to perform hits from his album Christmas Home. Singing in the beloved tones of Sinatra and Bing Crosby, fans can expect classics like I’ll Be Home for Christmas, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and more from this traditional concert.
Chris Mitchell presents: White Christmas (Dec. 9)
The gifted American saxophonist brings his larger-than-life sound to Calgary during his international holiday tour. Get ready for him to blow the roof right off the Engineered Air Theatre, with such perfectly-adapted festive hits as Let It Snow, Jingle Bell Rock, and of course, White Christmas!
Annual Krampus Run (Dec. 9)
You better watch out, you better not cry… although, one look at these ghastly ghouls and you might want to! Krampus is coming to town—a whole army of them, in fact. If your brain is still stuck in Halloween mode, come on down to The Ship & Anchor pub dressed in your creepiest duds, and get ready to scare all those naughty children nice again!
A Jann Arden Christmas (Dec. 13-14)
Celebrate the season with a dose of Calgary-born singer-songwriter Jann Arden’s signature humour and powerhouse vocals. Her 2015 holiday album, A Jann Arden Christmas, has become a seasonal local staple ever since its release. Witness musical Canadiana at its finest as Arden takes to the stage at the Jack Singer Concert Hall, backed by the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, to perform classic Christmas favourites from her album, along with hits all the way back to “Insensitive” and beyond.
The Nutcracker Ballet (Dec. 15-17 and 21-24)
Visions of sugar plum fairies will be dancing in your head after attending this glittering holiday spectacle. Delight in the delicate grace and beauty of the Alberta Ballet as you and your family rediscover the timeless tale of Klara and her Nutcracker Prince, set against the enchanting music of Tchaikovsky and intimate choreography of Edmund Stripe.
Looking to celebrate the holiday’s in a new way? Calgary’s Jewish Community Centre is holding a Chanukah Family Dance Party on December 16—it’s free, and folks of all faiths are welcome to join in the fun!
Charlotte’s Web (Nov. 21 – Dec. 31)
This classic children’s tale gets a musical makeover in the Martha Cohen Theatre, bringing Wilbur, Charlotte, Fern, and all their barnyard friends to life and song on stage! Relive the magic as Wilbur grows from piglet to prized pig, weaving a friendship with the spellbinding titular spider.
Zoolights (Nov. 24 – Jan. 6)
A much-beloved holiday tradition in Calgary, Zoolights transforms the zoo pathways each year into a dazzling winter wonderland, with over 1.5 million lights twinkling overhead and molded into fantastic holiday scenes. Though all the cool creatures are sleeping cozily in their beds, attendees are free to roam the grounds with a hot beverage in hand, check out a bevy of fun family games and activities, warm up by the fire pit, and even go ice-skating!
A Tribe Called Red (Dec. 1)
Exploding out of the electronic music scene in the nation’s capital, this Indigenous DJ crew celebrates our land’s native cultures and arts in a time when representation and support can be hard to come by. Catch their revolutionary sound as their North American tour comes to The Palace Theatre. Must be 18 years or older to attend.
Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddess (Dec. 2)
Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Legend of Zelda game series, this orchestral feast features music from the video games performed live against a backdrop of game footage played on a giant screen. This year’s performance will include a much-anticipated arrangement from the most recent series instalment, Breath of the Wild, while also paying homage to the classics, like Majora’s Mask and Wind Waker.
Diana Krall: Turn Up The Quiet World Tour (Dec. 5)
The Canadian jazz pianist and singer is currently touring the globe in anticipation of her new album release. With eight of her previous albums debuting at the top of the Billboard Jazz Albums chart, clearly Krall is hoping to break her own record with this one!
Festival of Crafts (Dec. 7-10)
Hoping to give your loved-ones a special handmade something this season, but just aren’t crafty enough to pull it off? The local artisans of this fair have just the one-of-a-kind gift you need! Shop everything from woodworks to pottery, blown glass to textiles, and more!
Teddy Bear Toss (Dec. 10)
There’s no better incentive to score the first goal of the game! Each year during the Calgary Hitmen’s Teddy Bear Toss, fans throw new teddy bears and other plushies onto the ice upon the scoring of the Hitmen’s first goal, and our hometown hockey heroes collect the toys to benefit local community groups and charities. Over 300,000 teddy bears have been donated since the first year of the toss in 1995.
Icetime: Calgary Civic Symphony (Dec. 10)
No Canadian winter is complete without hockey games, often attended in your thickest knitwear. Roch Carrier’s short story The Hockey Sweater is the perfect ode to both, a classic holiday tale that comes alive in this performance with instrumental interludes by Calgary’s Civic Symphony.
PJ Masks LIVE! Time To Be A Hero (Dec. 12)
Make sure not to sleep through this one! Watch your favourite team of nighttime superheroes come to life on stage to the tune of familiar songs from the hit animated series. Catboy, Owlette and Gekko are ready to save the day, but can they defeat their most fearsome foes Romeo, Night Ninja and Luna Girl all before the curtain closes! Fluttering Feathers! Leaping Lizards! Guess you’ll have to come down to the Jubilee Auditorium and find out for yourself!
David Archuleta (Dec. 15)
After a decade-long career carried out under the watchful eyes of the world stage, young pop prodigy and American Idol alumnus Archuleta released his latest EP Orion just months ago, and is ready to bring it’s soaring vocals to the Jack Singer Concert Hall stage—backed by a hearty helping of previews off his forthcoming album release.
Our Canada, Our Story (Dec 17)
Closing out a year of equal celebration and controversy given the Canada 150 anniversary, this performance celebrates our nation’s history through a multicultural Indigenous lens—teaching the audience that truly, our country is one that is strong not in spite of, but because of, its differences.
New Year’s Eve City Celebration (Dec. 31)
Start 2018 off with a bang at this free City of Calgary celebration, downtown at Olympic Plaza and City Hall. This year’s theme gives a Salute to Calgary, with fun activities for the whole family to enjoy. Take in live ice carving demonstrations, music and performances, and more. An early countdown for the kids will mark the minutes down to 9 pm with the continued celebration culminating in a brilliant fireworks display at midnight. For even more New Year’s Eve events around the city, stay tuned at www.where.ca!