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

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Published Jan 8, 2015

Get loaded with an armful of ideas for free (or really cheap) things to do in the remaining winter months in Calgary. Here's 20 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 20 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.

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

1. 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 Geocaching.com, 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!

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 10th- February 8th) 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. Wait for a "Bad Weather Day" and take advantage of a discount coupon to Calgary Zoo. Check their Bad Weather Bundle page and if there's a printable coupon at the bottom, you can print it off and save on that days admission for up to four people. There's still tons to do indoors- Penguin Plunge, Transalta Rainforest, Safari through the plains of the African Savannah, check out the ENMAX Conservatory, and more.

6. 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

7. Sip on a latte while your kids play away at Coffee & S'cream. If you love your coffee then you'll love this GENIUS place. Finally you can sit and ENJOY your cup of joe while it's hot!

8. 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!

9. Head out of the city on January 24th for Chestermere Winterfest. A full day event topped with pancake breakfast, sleigh rides, ice carving, polar bear dip, bounce houses, and a lantern parade & fireworks finale.. boom!

10. Sit back and watch a Live Planetarium Show or movie at Telus Spark. You can get a Dome Only Admission, so it's $7 for the 20 minute shows, or $10 for the 40 minute shows, and free for kids under 3. Still a ton of fun (and educational!) without the cost of full admission to the centre.

11. 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!

12. Get the Groupon for Canada's Sports Hall of Fame. If you have a sports lover, this is a great deal! For a limited time you can purchase the Groupon allowing an entire family in for only $19 (2 adults and 2 children). Walk among 60+ interactive exhibits and learn about the impact that sports have had over the years.

13. 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.

14. Toonie Tuesdays at Stir Crazy Family Fun Centre! All admission is just a Toonie from 9:30-10:30am on Tuesdays! Check their Calendar to make sure the promo is still on- must mention the calendar to receive the discount. This is one of Calgary's largest indoor play centre's with a huge play structure, bounce houses, mini arcade, concession, and parent & tot lounge. Great for parties too :^)

15. 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!

16. 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...

17. 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. 

18. Celebrate Chinese New Years with over 20,000 others. On Feb 14th and 15th will be a festival at the Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre filled with festival music, dance, food, games, and an indoor bazaar. Not to be missed!

19. Enjoy the Winter Carnival at Fort Calgary on Feb 16th. Free admission all day long, and fun winter activities will include horse-drawn carriage rides, games, crafts, face painting, and much more!

20. The always favourite: Family Game Night!! It can never hurt to get back to the basics, and sometimes a night in is just what the doctor ordered. Some games you can play without purchasing a board? Pictionary, Charades, Cards, the options are endless! After the excitement is over, maybe put on a movie, get cozy in your pj's, and eat some popcorn :)

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Joelle Blaikie

Written by Joelle Blaikie

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