Are you ready, Alberta? If you’re not in the holiday spirit yet, it’s time to get your head in the game. We’ve got an entire month of fun and festive events to keep you busy. You’ll see a pretty holiday-heavy theme throughout this month’s list. From markets to concerts and so much more, you won’t have any trouble staying entertained in Alberta this December. Let’s get into it!
Starting off strong, we’ve got Borealis Lights, a captivating drive-thru Christmas Lights display that will be twinkling away until January 7th. Returning to The St. Albert Kinsmen RV Park for its second year, the event draws visitors from all around Alberta to celebrate the magic of the holidays. You can expect over 800,000 enchanting lights that you get to witness from the warmth of your vehicle. The drive itself takes around 30 minutes as you slowly cruise through the dreamy holiday displays and snap photos along the way. Grab your tickets now and get ready to be dazzled.
Santa Daze Train to Alliance
Battle River Train Excursions is hosting an extra special event this holiday season. Hop aboard the Christmas Train for a magical journey with Santa and his elves, accompanied by cheerful music and festivities. Glide on ice with Mrs. Claus and Santa's helpers, indulge in a local Christmas market lunch, and meet Santa to share your wish list. End the day with a bonfire, wiener roast, Parade of Lights, and fireworks. This free event, supported by Battle River Railway, invites donations benefiting the Flagstaff Food Bank. Join in on the fun on December 9, 2023, for this enchanting Christmas adventure! Trains depart from Forestburg at 1 p.m. and Alliance at 6:30 p.m.
If you love over-the-top holiday events, you’ve probably heard of Glow. The Glow Christmas event will be popping up in Edmonton from December 1st to January 1st at the Edmonton Expo Centre and in Calgary from December 7th to 31st at the Nutrien Western Event Centre. These massive holiday celebrations include tons of children’s activities, a massive maker’s market, licensed bars with festive drinks, snacks from amazing local food trucks, and endless entertainment. From magic shows and concerts to parties and tasting events, the fun never stops. Of course, the venues will be decked out with thousands of twinkling lights and interactive displays, ideal for capturing the perfect holiday photos with your loved ones.
Christmas Bird Count
If you’re a big birder, you’ve probably already marked your calendar for the 2023 Christmas Bird Count. But, if you’re not familiar, we’re here to give you the scoop. Going strong since 1900, the Christmas Bird Count is the longest-running Citizen Science project, with people in more than 2000 locations participating each year. Each “Count Circle” is planned between December 14th and January 5th, and participants count birds that they spot for two reasons: to collect data and have fun. If you love birding, all you need to do is find a Count Circle near you to get involved. There are tons across the province, for example, Edmonton’s is taking place on December 17th. Have fun, birders!
Legal Christmas Craft n’ Trade Fair
Are you ready, Legal? On Saturday, December 2nd, at the Centralta Community Hall, you can expect a day packed with fun activities for folks of all ages. There will be a ton of local vendors showcasing their products and selling amazing goods for you to see, try, and buy, as well as an opportunity for the little ones to get a photo with Santa. Be sure to save the date and get excited to kick off the festive season right.
A Very Merry Pops at the Winspear Centre
The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra is putting on an incredible, festive performance that you don’t want to miss. On December 22nd and 23rd, Conductor Stuart Chafetz will take you on a jolly journey through the iconic holiday songs you’ll remember from your childhood. This joyous program includes sentimental tunes such as Let It Snow, Sleigh Ride, The First Noël, All I Want For Christmas Is You, Joy to the World, and more. Seriously, you need to see the list of nostalgic tunes you’ll get to hear during this performance. Be sure to get those tickets before the sell out.
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Here, we have another incredible orchestral event for you to enjoy this holiday season. On December 17th at the Innisfail Public Library, you can get excited for A Charlie Brown Christmas plus Christmas classics. The Central Alberta Chamber Orchestra is partnering with the town of Innisfail for this enchanting performance, and we know you’re going to love it. If you can’t make it on the 17th, don’t worry, there are plenty of other performances being put on throughout December.
Breakfast with Santa
Albertans, get ready to kickstart the holiday cheer at Olds' Christmas Pancake Breakfast alongside Santa. Head to the Evergreen Centre on December 9th from 11 am to 12:30 pm for a morning filled with musical performances, glitter tattoos, and balloon fun, perfect for your little ones. With the possibility of a special visit from Santa himself, this festive event promises a delightful start to the holiday season. Don't miss out on the merry celebration! Don’t forget to grab your tickets.
Candy Cane Kids
Calgary welcomes a burst of holiday joy with the 'Candy Cane Kids Holiday Show' presented by Occasional Notes Productions. Join Cookie, Pep Stripe, and a talented ensemble of singers and dancers for a festive family adventure. From December 15th to 17th, 2023, the Evan Hazell Theatre at Brookfield Residential YMCA Seton, located at 4995 Market Street SE, will be abuzz with this heartwarming extravaganza. Remember, children two years and older require a ticket, while younger ones under two years old can enjoy free admission seated on a parent or guardian's lap. Get ready for a holiday treat that's perfect for the whole family.
A Jan Arden Christmas
Calgary's own Jann Arden brings holiday magic to the Jack Singer Concert Hall from December 19th to December 20th, 2023. Experience a festive evening filled with Jann's signature hits and her unique spin on beloved Christmas classics. As a multi-platinum artist and recipient of eight JUNO Awards, including Songwriter of the Year and Female Artist of the Year, Jann Arden, a hometown hero, invites you to a heartwarming celebration. From her chart-topping music to her acclaimed TV series 'Jann,' this national treasure's performance promises a blend of nostalgia and merriment, making it an unmissable holiday event presented by Arts Commons Presents.
Bumbles’ Big Christmas Adventure
Embark on a magical journey in Airdrie from December 20th to December 24th, 2023, at Bert Church Theatre Mainstage, as Santa's workshop springs to life in a thrilling tale. Follow the whimsical escapades of Bumbles, a spirited elf tasked with a crucial mission after an unexpected mishap threatens Christmas. Alongside Santa, the elves, and surprise appearances by the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy, witness a captivating adventure where Bumbles learns the power of persistence in saving the holiday season. Join in the excitement as the story unfolds, reminding us all that even the smallest efforts can yield the greatest success.
JOY TO THE WORLD Christmas Cabaret
Join Bridget Ryan's uproarious 'JOY TO THE WORLD' Christmas Cabaret from December 12th to 30th, 7:30 PM. Experience 90 minutes of laughter, music, and heartwarming Christmas tales in the stunning Carter-Ryan Gallery, nestled in Canmore's Main Street. With sing-a-longs, surprise guests, and Morgan McKee's band, this award-winning cabaret promises an unforgettable holiday celebration amidst captivating art and breathtaking mountain views.
Eat The Castle at The Fairmount Banff Spring Hotel
Experience a lavish 3-hour food and beverage pairing tour at Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel on Friday, December 8th, 2023. This guided journey unveils the hotel's history, art, and architecture while enjoying delectable culinary offerings. With access to four exclusive venues, indulge in Alberta's signature cuisine at spots like 1888 Chop House and Vermillion Room. Capture memories of this UNESCO site while sipping robust refreshments at STOCK Food and Drink. Gratuity for the hotel staff is included, offering a glimpse into luxury amidst stunning Rocky Mountain views. Join us for an opulent exploration of the majestic Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.
Festive Foothills Art Sale
Enjoy the joy of the holiday season at the Festive Foothills Art Sale until December 21st in Alberta's scenic Foothills region. Explore exquisite fine crafts and artwork by local talents showcased at the historic Leighton home. With over 100 gifted artists, this annual art sale offers the perfect opportunity to find one-of-a-kind gifts while immersing yourself in the home's historic charm and festive decorations. Revel in the spirit of the season and discover unique treasures for your loved ones.
Pekisko Creek Western Christmas Market
Ready for the charm of the Pekisko Creek Western Christmas Market at Bar U Ranch National Historic Site on Saturday, December 2, 2023, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Explore local vendors and artisans while enjoying complimentary horse-drawn wagon rides through the picturesque ranch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Warm up with coffee, hot chocolate, and gather around the fire pit. Admission is a cash donation supporting the High River Food Bank and Magic of Christmas. Don't miss this festive celebration in a historic setting.
We hope you’re ready for the best of the best in festive activities at the Banff Gondola, where Sulphur Mountain becomes a winter wonderland during Mountaintop Christmas. From December 2 on Saturdays and Sundays, and daily from December 25 to 30, enjoy a host of festive activities, including photos with Santa Claus from 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Christmas crafts, holiday movie screenings, and delightful surprises. Don't miss the chance for kids to go free every day before noon! But hurry, Santa's last day at the summit is on December 24 before he heads back to the North Pole. Create cherished family memories amidst this magical Mountaintop Christmas celebration.
Britanny Burr is a freelance writer and a contributor to Great West Media. This story was written for the 2023/24 Cool Winter Guide advertising feature. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff.