All the best Calgary Christmas Light Displays
One of the best parts of Christmastime is seeing all the beautiful lights. Check out our picks for the best Calgary Christmas light displays.
2021 note: The Lions Festival of Lights is walkable again this year.
Location: Confederation Park: 14th Street and 24th Avenue NW
Parking: Drive by only and walkable
Start Time: 6pm-midnight
2021 date: begins November 27, 2021 and runs until January 9, 2020
There was concern in 2019 that the Lion’s Festival of Lights wouldn’t be happening any more but thankfully it is still going ahead. It was cut back to a more limited, drive by display for 2020, but is back to the full display this year.
The Lions Festival of Lights display, not just drive by display – you can also walk through it too. It’s perfect for taking the kids in a sled and many people toboggan down the hill on the west side. You can cross a bridge (behind the shed), and see some more of the lights closer to 14th St.
The lights are lovely, it’s free, and it doesn’t take up a lot of time. The one downside is that there is nothing in the way of amenities and the parking is really just neighborhood street parking.
This is the area right by the entrance. It is a good spot to meet up with people.
If you go under this sign you’ll find yourself walking past the toboggan hill. If you look to the east (right) you’ll see a shallower slope.
Just down the hill on the South East corner you can find some ice sculptures.
View of the toboggan hill.
The lights to our right are the ones you can see from 14th St. The toboggan hill is to our left.
You can keep walking for a fair bit and across a bridge.
Location: Spruce Meadows – 18011 Spruce Meadows Way SW, West Entrance
Parking: visitors were asked to stay in their vehicles for the 2020 season
2021/2022 dates: Weekends starting Dec 10-January 2
Spruce Meadows is primarily set up as a driving tour but there are places to park if you would like to walk around the centre area.
You can enjoy a hot chocolate or coffee and a pastry in the warm comfort of the Founders Plaza from 5-8pm. [not available for 2020 season]The lights here are less varied, than some of the other spots on this list, but they are plentiful and you can drive right though.
If you live in the area I would put it on your must do Christmas list.
Location: Airdrie – Nose Creek Park
Cost: Free – donations are accepted ($10-20 per family suggested), train rides are $2 (cash only)
Parking: Free Parking lot
2021 dates: Dec 1-31
The Airdrie Festival of Lights is a real community event. The walk through light festival features two bonfires, a miniature train the whole family can ride ($2 per person) and a concession serving hot chocolate. They also have special nights including things like crafts, visits with Santa and free hot chocolate. Check out their events calendar for specifics.
The pond is also used for skating. The lights are plentiful and in lots of different shapes. There are lots of pathways to walk around and strollers or sleds will probably work most days.
Skating rink in the middle
One of the two trains running while we were there.
They also have some photo-ops set up like this sleigh and a number of those cut-outs where you stick your head through. I would absolutely recommend making the trip up. It has become my favorite of the ones on this list.
Location: Calgary Zoo – North gate entrance only
Cost: Adults(16+) – $21.95 +gst, kids(3-15) – $14.95+gst Must be purchased in advance. In the past members could stay at the zoo and take in zoo lights but this will not be possible this year.
Parking: Parking $12 (Inspire and Engage memberships park for free)
Time: 5pm-9pm (gates close at 8:30)
2021/2022 dates: Nov 19-January 2. (excluding Christmas Day).
Zoolights is back again this year and if you like Christmas lights, zoolights really is something to see. Not only does it have a lot of lights, they are shaped into amazing (often animal themed) decorations.
In addition, they have fun activities, a skating rink, fire pit, axe throwing, a holiday zoo market, visits with Santa and more. This year they also have a very special “Dinos in the Dark” experience.
They zoo is changing up their sensory experience this year for sensory sensitive guests. This year, instead of Sensory Sundays, they are offering free rentals of sensory bags that include items like headphones, fidget spinners and more. There is a map available that provides route information and locations of flashing or moving lights. You can also download ZOOLIGHTS 2021: A Teaching Story, a resource to help prepare sensory sensitive guests in advance, on their website.
Here’s some pictures I took a few years ago. This is only a small portion of what you’d see there.
Note: the animals are not on display during zoolights and their buildings are closed.
5. Do a residential house tour
Many people put a lot of work and effort into making amazing Christmas displays at their own homes. Check out http://lightenupcalgary.ca/ to help you find some great picks
6. Go Downtown
I’ve seen downtown suggested a lot as a place to see Christmas lights. There are usually some really beautiful displays to check out, especially if you are already in the area. Here are some suggestions for spots that usually have some nice displays [photos are from 2016]
Inside The Core shopping centre you can often find a beautiful display.
East Village – 7th Ave and 5th St. SE
If you are near the East Village, they have had a really cute display with trees and presents. You can also see the skyline with the Calgary tower as well as the decorations on the Telus building from here.
The Calgary Tower
While you are downtown, be sure to take a look at the Calgary Tower. You can get a great view from all kinds of places – it’s not necessary to go right to the tower.
Eau Claire Bridge
The bridge from Eau Claire to Prince’s Island is beautifully lit. There’s also some nice lights on Prince’s Island too.
McDougall Centre – 4th Ave and 6th St.
Both sides of the McDougall Centre look beautiful.
City Hall – 800 Mcleod Trail
City Hall is my favorite spot downtown, it’s right by Olympic Plaza so if you are over there skating make sure to walk over.
Olympic Plaza – 228 8 Ave SE
Olympic Plaza has some beautiful wreaths, a lit tree and free public skating too.
Driving or walking West along 8th avenue from Olympic Plaza is lovely with light strung across the street.
From Crescent Road you can get a pretty view of downtown and a great view of the Telus building decorations.
5. NOËL CHRISTMAS – Indoor Light Park & Christmas Market
Noel Christmas will not be returning for the 2021/2022 season, but last plans to return the following year, in late 2022.
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