15 Free (Or Really Cheap!) Things To Do This Winter in Calgary

Published Jan 9, 2019 | Updated Jan 10, 2019

Get loaded with an armful of ideas for free (or really cheap) things to do in the remaining winter months in Calgary. Here's 15 ideas to keep your families happy and active!

Don't let Calgary winters stop you and your family from getting out and about! I know this time of year can be a bit tough: cold weather, trying to spend less (Christmas can be a doozy), and usually trying to stick to some sort of resolution.

Well here's 15 ideas that combat EVERY SINGLE ONE of those points! Make this winter special, embrace the winter months, and rediscover all of the great things Calgary has to offer.

15 Inexpensive Things To Do This Winter in Calgary (With Kids!)

1. Go ice skating in the great outdoors.
 There's plenty of outdoor skating rinks around Calgary, but check out Carburn Park or Prince Island Park where at certain times local wildlife experts will have fun family activities fire-side for some added fun to the day. Here's the schedule

2. Tobogganing! A great way to embrace the snow. Make sure your kids are dressed warm and wear a helmet, then head to the slopes. Some of the best hills are 

  • Royal Oak (50 Royal Birkdale Dr. NW)- there's various hills that range in size so there is something for everyone
  • Prairie Winds Park (223 Castleridge Dr. NE)- has a tall and steep hill (the mother of all tobogganing hills!) but also some small ones to the side for the younger ones
  • Big Marlborough Park Dry Pone (6021 Madigan Dr. NE)- a great day adventure! The hill ends on a flooded lagoon where you can skate as well
  • Signal Hill (Sirocco Dr. and Signal Hill Hts. SW)- this one made the top 5 list in the Calgary Sun survey, definitely worth checking out!
  • McKenzie Towne (McKenzie Towne Dr. SE)- also known as Elgin Hill, this has a beautiful panoramic view of McKenzie Towne!

3. Take a trip out to Banff National Park for the SnowDays FestivalHappening for an entire month (January 16th- January 27th) there are tons of free events that combine history, culture, and cutting edge winter action. For the kids is tons of activities from wagon rides, to ice skating, and much more. There's also crackling fires and Hot Springs to warm yourselves back up. 

4. Watch a family favourite movie at a Cineplex Theatre on Saturday mornings at 11am for only $2.99. A portion of the proceeds goes to Free The Children. A fun and affordable way to enjoy the weekend with the fam! For a list of movies playing, click here.

5. Visit the Leighton Art CentreLocated about 45 minutes away from Calgary, you may not have heard of this little gem. Admission to this art gallery and museum is "pay-what-you-can" and you can escape the hustle and bustle of Calgary. The centre is now a Heritage Home and Museum as well as a Gallery for local artists and artisans. While you're in the area, drive a little further local hot-spot Chuckwagon Cafe, featured on You Gotta Eat Here to make a little day of it!

6. Watch an indoor tournament at Spruce Meadows. These are free during the winter months, so it's a good time to check it out, wander the barns, and enjoy a hot chocolate in the stands. You can also bring your skates and head out to the pond!

7. Taste and vote for the best hot chocolate in all of Calgary during YYC Hot Chocolate Fest. What kid wouldn't love personally testing the different hot chocolates? For the month of February, there will be coffee shops, restaurants, chocolatiers, and hotels creating delicious and unique hot chocolates to support Calgary Meals on Wheels. Yum!

8. Visit the Devonian Gardens. Step out of the cold and into a garden of tropical plants, water fountains, tree-decked plazas, and ponds teaming with fish. There is also a "living wall" within the Gardens - a favourite spot for photos. Children can enjoy the indoor playground or take part in various drop-in programs.

9. 50% off evenings at TreeHouse indoor playground! Did you know admission is half price after 7pm? This is one of Calgary's largest indoor play centre's with two locations, huge play structures, bounce houses, mini arcade, concession, and parent & tot lounge. Here's their website.

10. Check out the Schedule of Events for Calgary Public Libraries. There's often great activities for kids at the local libraries, from story times, arts & crafts, to games and guest speakers. And best of all... They're all free!

11. Build a totally awesome igloo. Fill empty milk and juice cartons with water dyed of your kids favourite colours. Leave overnight to freeze, and then use them the next day to build an amazing colourful igloo or fort. Bring some lights in there at nighttime, and your igloo will glow! I don't know if this will be more fun for the kids or adults...

12. Plan a hot dog & marshmallow roast in the park. Fish Creek Park and Bowness are open throughout the winter and are great for taking the family for a walk while spotting the wildlife. Pack a small picnic so you can warm up by the fire with hot dogs and smores. 

13. Celebrate Chinese New Years with over 20,000 others. Over two weekends in February will be a festival at the Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre filled with festival music, lion danceing, food, games, and an indoor bazaar. Not to be missed! January 26th & 27th and February 2nd & 3rd

14. Visit the Youthlink Calgary Police Interpretive Centre. If you’re looking for a fun, free place to visit in Calgary, then make sure to visit the Calgary Police Interpretive Centre! Admission is free on Saturdays & Sundays, so you can explore over 50 immersive exhibits, incredible stories of history, true crime displays and family-friendly activities

15. Take your kids on a geocaching adventure. Geocaching is becoming more and more popular and is tons of fun for families! People place hidden surprises (small gifts, notes, etc.) in areas like parks and trails for someone else to come along and find. You can see where these are buried by visiting, or by downloading a geocaching app onto your smartphone (this is ideal so that you can bring the map along). Make sure your kids bring along something fun to leave behind, so someone else can come along and find their treasure!

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