Take in a Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra performance
The CPO has been a pillar of Calgary’s vibrant arts community since 1955. The orchestra presents classical standards, pop favorites, bold collaborations, and cutting-edge new works. Their holiday performances are classics that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Learn more at calgaryphil.com.
Downhill skiing and snowboarding
Whether you stick close to home at Canada Olympic Park or drive to one of the many nearby mountains, there is no doubt that skiing and snowboarding are the top winter sports in these parts. Calgary has world-class slopes as little as an hour away. Some of our favorite spots to “shred the gnar” are Nakiska, Norquay, and Sunshine Village.
Cozy up in a cafe
As the weather gets chilly in October and November, it’s the perfect time of year to enjoy a hot drink and catch up with friends (or just have a special outing with the kids). Calgary is home to dozens of amazing independent cafes and coffee shops, and they all offer something a little different. Some of our favorites include Regal Cat Café, Hexagon Board Game Cafe and Fringe Coffee.
Tubing at Winsport
If you haven’t been before, the Servus Tube Park at WinSport is a must-try this season. It’s a great beginner winter activity, requiring no previous experience or special equipment. Snow tubes are included with your ticket, and a magic carpet brings you to the top of the hill. All that's left is to enjoy the ride. Learn more at winsport.ca.
Take in a holiday market
There are more holiday markets than we can count in Calgary and each one of them offers something unique to Christmas shoppers. Some of the most well-known include the International Christmas Market at Spruce Meadows, Calgary Christmas Market (at both Calgary Farmers‘ Market locations), Market Collective Holiday Markets and Peak to Prairie Holiday Market at WinSport. See our Guide to the Holidays on page 18 for more merry market ideas.
Walk with the penguins
This highly anticipated winter event delights people of all ages. From January until mid-March (when weather conditions permit), the King penguins go for a daily walk around the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo. You can follow along beside them as handlers herd them into place for their daily stroll. Learn more at calgaryzoo.com.
Go ice skating
There is no shortage of outdoor ice-skating rinks in Calgary; one of the most popular is Olympic Plaza, followed closely by Bowness Park lagoon. If you are looking for an even more scenic glide (and a bit more of a workout), check out the ice trails at Bowness Park and North Glenmore Park.
Go cross-country skiing
With nine groomed cross-country skiing tracks and three ungroomed, this city is flush with places to cross-country ski. If you enjoy a winter drive, there are at least a dozen other trails close to the city with stunning views of the mountains.
Take in a Flames game
There’s nothing more exciting than cheering on your team with a snack in one hand and a beverage in the other. Be a part of the “Sea of Red” in the stands for a fast-paced, action-packed match-up of Canada’s favorite sport. Learn more at nhl.com/flames.
Visit a local brewery
With dozens of breweries scattered around the city, there is something for all palates. Whether you are looking to try one of the tried and true “big guys” like Big Rock or Wild Rose, or prefer to support local microbreweries like Citizen Brewing and Eighty-Eight, an afternoon with a pint in hand is always a good time.
Natural hot springs
Warm up in one of the many natural hot springs in and around Calgary. A short drive takes you to Banff Hot Springs, while a longer road trip will bring you to Fairmont and Radium Hot Springs. If you are comfortable driving four hours or more, check out Lussier or Miette Hot Springs to take a dip.
Try ice fishing
If you prefer to get frosty, why not try your hand at ice fishing? There are a surprising number of places to ice fish around Calgary including Chestermere Lake, Ghost Lake Reservoir, Lesser Slave Lake, Chain Lake Reservoir, and Eagle Lake.
Try fat biking or ice biking
Almost anywhere you can bike in the summer, you can fat bike in the winter. What is a fat bike? It’s an off-road bicycle built to accommodate oversized tires designed for low ground pressure to allow riding on soft, unstable terrain like snow. If you are looking for something even more “outside the box,” rent an ice bike at Bowness Park for a safe, stable alternative for all ages and skill levels. An ice bike is a bicycle, where the front wheel has been replaced with skates and the back wheel is surrounded by skates. Learn more at calgary.ca.
Indoor bike park
If you are missing your bike now that it is too cold to ride, but you aren’t looking to bundle up for an ice bike or fat bike, check out B-Line Indoor Bike Park. This is a biking playground that features tracks for cyclists of every skill level. New riders can jump into the dedicated beginner section and pump tracks, while experienced riders can tackle the jump lines or practice flips and tricks in the foam pits and Big Air Room. Learn more at blinebikepark.com.
Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary
See wolfdogs in person to learn about their unique nature and conservation efforts. The sanctuary is located on 160 acres of land near Cochrane. Take part in a self-guided walk or interact with the animals in an immersive interactive tour. Learn more at yamnuskawolfdogsanctuary.com.
With more than 20 City of Calgary maintained hills, tobogganing and sledding is a thrilling way to enjoy the winter and take advantage of the snow. Make sure you bundle up and wear the proper safety equipment to get the most out of the experience. Learn more at calgary.ca/parks/activities/tobogganing.
Go on a self-guided walking tour
Calgary has so many beautiful parks and pathways that transform into winter wonderlands during the cold months. Take a stroll through Bowmont Park, Elliston Park, Griffith Woods Park, and the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. Get even more ideas for where to go at calgary.ca/parks/activities/walking-tours.
Go to the library
Who doesn’t love a good book? Whether you make the trip to the Central Library downtown or go to one in your community, libraries are a hub of information, people, and resources that shouldn’t be ignored. Your library card gives you access to device borrowing, printing, creative spaces, programs, classes, books, movies, musical instruments, and more. Learn more at calgarylibrary.ca.
Take a staycation
You don’t have to travel to feel pampered. Who wants to stand in line at a crowded airport or drive icy roads when you can book a hotel in downtown Calgary and enjoy a staycation right here? Some of our favorite places to stay include the Fairmont Palliser, Courtyard by Marriott, The Dorian, and Le Germain Hotel.
Indoor play place
Do your kids have energy to burn but it is too cold to go outside? Check out one of Calgary’s many indoor play places. Some of our favorites include Flying Squirrel Trampoline Park, Big Fun Inflatable Park, and Big Box Family Entertainment Centre.
Play in an arcade
Remember when you were a kid and would spend hours in your local arcade? Share that experience with your kids. Arcades are back and more popular than ever with several locations in and around Calgary. Whether you are looking to play classics like PAC-MAN® or want to get your hands on the latest VR games, you can find the arcade that has it – sometimes all in one place!
Check out one of the several indoor swimming pools that Calgary has to offer. Many have winding water slides, wave pools, and aquatic play centres for kids. Visit your local recreation centre to learn more.
Drive to West Edmonton Mall
Looking for something that is more than a staycation but less than a full-blown getaway this winter? Take the three-hour drive to West Edmonton Mall to shake things up. Shopping, a water park, performances, an amusement park, restaurants, a skating rink… You will want for nothing in the largest mall in Canada.
Try ice climbing
The Outdoor Centre at the University of Calgary offers a wide range of ice climbing programs and guided experiences. Whether you are a beginner, a rock jock just starting out in winter, or an experienced climber looking to test your skills on some of the classic test pieces, they have the perfect program for you. Learn more at outdoor-centre.ucalgary.ca.
Have you ever wondered how to curl? Check out one of the many clubs in and around the city to try your hand at this popular winter sport. It is a great way to improve your balance, get aerobic, strengthen your legs, and meet new people
Go dog sledding
Gorgeous views, the cool breeze on your face and the pitter patter of dog footsteps – what could be better? Take in the Alberta winter scenery from the back of a dog sled this season. Several companies in the mountains and foothills offer dog sled tours. Some tours include warm drinks, a meal, and campfires.
Snowshoeing is a great activity to do with your kids because it doesn’t take any practice or skill. Just strap on the shoes and get going. Another bonus is the fact that other than the rental or purchase of the snowshoes, it is completely free. You can snowshoe at almost any park in the city, or feel free to take your kiddos to one of the many groomed cross-country skiing trails in the mountains. How far you take it is up to you.
Cross the Peace Bridge
This once-contentious bridge has now been an iconic part of the city skyline for 11 years. Whether you have crossed it 100 times before or this is your first time, there is no denying its unique construction and alluring beauty.
Caving in Canmore
Explore a wild, undeveloped cave under Grotto Mountain near Banff and Canmore in the beautiful Canadian Rockies. Discover the incredible history of the cave as you climb past 7000-year-old animal bones, ancient cave formations, and pictographs. There is nothing quite like going caving in Canmore! Learn more at canmorecavetours.com.
Plus 15 walk
Did you know that you can create your own indoor art tour through downtown’s Plus 15 network? There are more than a dozen artworks from the Civic Art Collection hidden in nooks and crannies throughout the skyway downtown. Get your steps in and check out interesting artworks without ever going outside.
Columbia Icefield Skywalk
Capture a feeling of absolute wonder on the cliffs of the Sunwapta Valley. The Columbia Icefield Skywalk experience features fossils, waterfall views, and incredible glacier landscapes along a one-kilometre interpretive walkway, situated near routes frequented by mountain goats and other wildlife. Learn more at banffjaspercollection.com/attractions/columbia-icefield/skywalk.
Warm up by a fire pit
There are several public fire pits in local parks. Grab your lawn chairs, fuzzy blankets, winter woollies, and everything you need for s’mores and head on out to the one closest to you. Check out the list of locations at calgary.ca/events/winter-city/community-fire-pits.
Drift on Ghost Lake
Located 30 minutes from Calgary, this ice course is maintained by Faster Higher and has been recognized as the largest of its kind in North America. It features 84 turns and six tracks that total 9.6km. If you are an adventure seeker, this is the place to spin your wheels.
Geocaching (using GPS to find hidden boxes) is a popular summer activity, but many caches are winter friendly (think ones hidden higher up, for example). Look for geocaches that people have previously been able to find during the winter months to improve your success. Happy hunting!
Sleigh rides are a magical experience for the whole family and a memory you’ll cherish for years. Horsin Around in southwest Calgary is a great option in the city. Boundary Ranch in Kananaskis and Moose Mountain Horseback Adventures near Bragg Creek also offer sleigh rides. CCM
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