Santa has just started making appearances at Calgary Malls this year. There are a lot of different options for photos with Santa this Christmas – some are free, some have professional photographers and there is a wide variety of activities and waiting areas.
To help you decide where you want to take your kids this year, I’ve listed below, (in alphabetical order) the malls in Calgary that have pictures with Santa this year, a bit of a description and my experience where I can. I’ll continue to update the information on this page to keep it as current as possible.
You also may be interested in my humorous but informative post on my personal blog about Getting Better Photos with Santa.
Note: I’ve decided to post Santa’s hours this year, but please use this information as a guide only and double check with the mall itself as it is possible these hours may change. I’ll provide links to the Santa’s hours and info at each mall as they become available.
This year, Santa will arrive at Chinook Centre’s Christmas castle (in front of the Bay on the main floor) on Nov 23 at 10am. They have added a ramp up to see Santa so strollers and anyone unable to use the stairs will be able to access Santa much more easily. They are also launching new decor at the North side of the Mall at 11am which they say promises to be magical.
This is a very popular place to visit Santa and it can often be quite busy. There is a waiting area with a few things to play with so you don’t actually have to stand in line while you wait though. Santa sits in his sleigh for the pictures and there is a video of Santa’s reindeer that the kids can see while getting their picture taken. They suggest trying to visit on Sunday or weekday mornings and in the evening as they are quieter times for Santa. There is a professional photographer on site. Last year, packages started at 19.95.
A friend of mine loves taking her three young kids there. She finds that they are great at getting the kids to smile and the elves don’t mind being in the photo if that’s what it takes. I’ve seen her picture from the last few years and they were awesome! She loves the Santa display as well as the giant telescope and the living statues.
Monday-Saturday: 10am-1pm; 2pm-5pm; 6pm-8:30pm
Sundays: 11am-2pm; 3pm-6:00pm
Christmas Eve: 10am-1:30pm; 2pm-4pm
Santa’s Wonderland located inside at Bass Pro Shops opened Nov 10 and offers – a free 4×6 photo with Santa (and one of his reindeer) with the option of purchasing picture packages in store or when you get home, free crafts, games and activities. Last year you could access the activities before or after the line to see Santa. The crafts and Santa letter writing were to the left of the line and the games and activities were to the right of the line-up. Like last year, if the line is longer than 30 minutes they will be offering a Bass Pass, where you can come back at a specified time instead of waiting in line. They state that Monday-Thursday are slower days for Santa.
I found the area a little bit difficult to find the first time. It was on the side with the doors to the outside in the Southern most corner. I came in the outside doors and still didn’t see it! It hard to believe because it takes up quite a bit of space.
I took Gordie again last year (because I can’t resist a free photo with Santa) in mid-November so there wasn’t much of a line-up. Santa was engaging and realistic but fairly soft spoken which worked well for Gordie. He even managed to coax a smile out of him for the picture.
Nov 10: 5pm-8pm
Nov 11-Dec 9
Sunday : Noon-5pm
Santa will be arriving in the Mall’s Centre Court on Nov 16th. Last year, they had introduced hours to bring your pet in for Photos with Santa. It was such a huge hit that this year they are expanding that offering so you can now bring your pet in anything during Santa’s hours. Last year $10 from each Pet Photo was donated to the Calgary Humane Society which raised $5000.
There will be a craft area again this year, where kids will be able to decorate their own ‘Santa’ bag and make a little craft. The craft area also has a TV playing Christmas cartoons.
Last year, personal photos could be taken only (limit of 2) if a photo packaged is purchased (minimum 17.00 for a 5×7 or 21.90 for a full sheet, they had a digital option as well for $35.95) I’m not 100% sure yet of the photo prices this year. After visiting Santa, kids will get a little candy cane.
I took Gordie to see Santa at the Deerfoot Mall two years ago. We went just after Santa arrived at noon and at that point there was just one person in front of us. Santa was really great with the kids and he really seemed to love what he was doing. He handled Gordie bursting into tears without a blink and helped me help Gordie regain his composure. He even flipped Gordie’s cuffs down so they’d look nice in the picture. My friend’s 3 year old was pretty adamant that she did not want to go up to Santa at first, but he gently coaxed her up and by the end of it she gave him 2 hugs! I thought it was a great option if you wanted professional photos without a long wait.
Nov 16-Dec 14
Monday-Friday: 11am-2pm, 3pm-5pm, 6pm-8pm
Saturday: 10am-1:30pm, 2:30pm-6pm
Sunday : Noon-4pm
Monday-Friday: 11am-2pm, 3pm-5pm, 6pm-8pm
Saturday: 10am-1pm, 2pm-5pm, 6pm-8pm
Sunday: 11am-2pm, 3pm-5pm
Dec 24 – Christmas Eve
(above photo courtesy of Deerfoot Mall)
Santa arrives at Market Mall on November 18th in time for their annual Breakfast With Santa. As in past years, a professional photographer was on-site with photo packages starting at 21.90. To see Santa, you check in at the front and then wait in their waiting area (which had activities for the kids) until your name is called so you don’t have to wait in line. I took Gordie there 3 years ago and the photos were very well done but it is a very popular location and can get very busy. The Santa we met there was very convincing and is the same one who will be there this year – probably the most popular Santa in Calgary.
Nov 18-Dec 1
Sunday : 11am-5pm
Hours will change on Dec1
Santa arrives at the Family Park (by Sears) on November 24. On Saturday’s Santa gets a much needed break while Mrs. Claus hosts story time at the Family Park from 1-2pm. They have a professional photographer offering photo packages starting at $22.
Nov 24-Dec 9
Thursday-Saturday: 12noon-3pm, 4pm-7pm.
Monday-Saturday: 12noon-3pm, 4pm-7pm
Christmas Eve: 10am-3pm
North Hill Centre
Last year was a big change from the previous years at North Hill with no singing Santa. Like last year, starting on Dec 17, Santa will be making appearances for photos and story time. Photos were free but you needed to bring your own camera as there is no professional photographer.
Photos - 11:am-3pm
Story time – 1pm
Northland Village Mall
Santa will be arrived at Gingerbread lane on Dec 1 this year. Two years ago the Northland Village Mall re-vamped their Santa experience. Kids can do a craft, have a cookie, write a letter to Santa and of course, visit with Santa. Children go through in groups in 30 minute intervals which you can book in advance by calling customer service at 403-247-1393 at least 24 hours prior. There is no professional photographer on site so you needed to bring your own camera and take your own photos. The entire experience is free but there is a suggested donation of $5 per child that goes directly to Habitat for Humanity Calgary.
I took the kids to see Santa at Northland again this year mid-day on a Monday morning (Dec 10). There was no line and we were able to get in right away even though we didn’t reserve our spot. It was a very relaxed way to visit Santa. If you wanted to just take your photo and run, the line is only a few kids long at the most, and if you are willing to go to one of the other stations first, you could walk right up. Nicole was a little suspicious of Santa but Gordie wanted to go see Santa right away. They had a number of different little tree ornament crafts (you can see some examples on the tree below) and a gingerbread cookies from Cookies with George for a snack. Gordie ‘wrote a letter’ to Santa and promptly handed it to him (it’s actually supposed to go in the mailbox which he did afterwards). If you are willing to take your own photos, I think this is a great way to see Santa. The lighting is really good by Santa too so getting good photos should be fairly easy.
Dec 3-23: 11am-1pm and 2pm-4pm
Dec 24: 10am-1pm
Santa will arrive at his Mountain Village the Centre Court of the Sunridge Mall on November 17 in time for their annual tree lighting celebration. Like last year, photos with Santa are free but there is no professional photographer so you needed to bring your own camera.
I took the kids to see Santa on a Monday afternoon in late November. The line was quite short while we were there which was nice because there isn’t much to distract the kids in the line-up. Gordie didn’t want to get his picture taken at first so we got a few photos with just Nicole and then came back a little while later for the photo below. The kids got a candy cane after visiting with Santa. The lighting was a little difficult – it’s pretty low so you may want to use a flash or use a lens with a large aperture to get a better picture. There’s also someone on hand if you need someone to help you get your photo.
Santa will be arriving on Nov 17, like the previous few years, Santa’s house is decorated like a giant tree. There are games and things to see while waiting for Santa and also a Cookie kitchen where you can decorate your own cookie whichis not connected to the line so you can do it without seeing Santa if you wanted. Last year, photo packages started at $20.90. Proceeds from photo sale benefit Inn From the Cold, KidSport and the Calgary Heath Trust.
New this year, on Dec 2nd they are offering Santa visits for families with autistic children before mall hours by reservation only. The will also be adjusting the Santaland to better suit their special needs. Interested families can contact Krista @ 403-225-5348.
Another new feature this year, on Saturdays and Sundays in December children can interact with the Nutcracker and Sugar Plum Fairy from 12-4pm.
Last year, we were at South Centre on Santa’s first day but he was on a break so we didn’t get to see him. I asked if we could just walk through the area as there are neat things to see, but for safety reasons you can only do that while Santa is there. Santa takes unscheduled breaks to feed his reindeer, that typically are only 15 minutes long, so if he’s not there when you get there, you shouldn’t have to wait long before he’s back. Gordie did decorate a cookie though. I know in past years, Mrs Claus has run the cookie kitchen but there was just a young ‘chef’ there when we went that evening. At the cookie kitchen there was a little gingerbread cookie, popsicles stick and a tiny cup with frosting and sprinkles. There was also paper and crayons.
This year, @jeffmik commented about the Southcentre Santa – “we took our kids there today (I haven’t been in years) and his smile is awesome.”
Monday – Saturday 10am-8p
December 24, 9am-3pm
Santa will be arriving on Nov 26. Every Saturday after it opens, you can also catch Mrs. Claus at Story time between 11am-12noon. They have a professional photographer offering photo packages starting at $22.
Nov 24-Dec 16
Thursday-Saturday: 12pm-3pm, 4pm-7pm
Monday-Saturday: 12pm-3pm, 4pm-7pm
Christmas Eve: 10am-3pm
Where is your favorite place to take your kids for photos with Santa? Do you have any additional tips or information about these mall Santas? Write your thoughts in the comments below!