They say it’s the most wonderful time of the year. They say there’s no place like home for the holidays. They say it is the season to be jolly.
Okay, I don’t disagree. But the season is not without its stress. With extra visitors, the kids off school, and the lingering dark winter nights, families can get a little stir crazy after the dust (glitter?) of Christmas settles. But with the inevitable Christmas bills coming due, you might also be feeling the pressure of watching a budget. Raising a family can be costly, and it’s always great to have some budget-friendly ideas for fun things to do with your family.
Please note: always double-check with the venue before heading out as things can change quickly.
(Mostly) Cheap Things to do Over Winter Break
It gets cold in Calgary, to be sure, but we often have wonderful winter days for outdoor activities. There are lots of great places to head outside and enjoy the fresh, crisp air, plus the kids will burn all kinds of energy running up and down a hill! (Now, if only we get enough snow.) The City of Calgary has designated specific locations in every quadrant that are safe for tobogganing.
For a change from swooping down a hill, grab your skates and head out to one of the many beautiful skating rinks. The City of Calgary has multiple outdoor skating rinks that are maintained by the city and free to use. In addition, there are 35 more rinks that are maintained by the Adopt-A-Rink program and many communities also have community rinks. Outdoor rinks are, of course, weather dependent, although the ice surface at Olympic Plaza is a refrigerated surface. If the weather is too cold (or too warm . . . ) indoor rinks are usually relatively inexpensive, too, although not many are open in 2021. Or, you could skate on the “fastest ice on earth” at the Olympic Oval on Monday nights for only a toonie and a food bank donation. Also, check if your local arena is open, as many of them are quite inexpensive.
Have you had enough of Christmas yet?! If not, many places in Calgary will have their Christmas lights up through New Year’s Eve, and sometimes right through winter break. Bundle up and take a walk through a brightly lit park. Or grab yourself a coffee, pack the kids into their car seats, and drive past some lovely lights!
Yes, it’s winter and baby, it’s cold outside. But that can be a great reason to head to the pool, especially if it has a hot tub or a steam room! And there is nothing like water play to help wear the kids out. The City of Calgary has a number of indoor pools where families can play, generally for under $20. The 2 City of Calgary leisure centres are a little more money, but they also offer more options for activities.
Geocaching is generally considered more of a summer activity, but there’s no reason not to get outside on the nice winter days, too! It will give you an excuse to go exploring. For tips and tricks on winter geocaching, see the official geocaching blog.
I’m sure it’s not just me: I absolutely love the public library. Not only can you save money, and room in your house, by borrowing books, music, and movies, but they have many services and online resources, too. They don’t have programs running at the current time, but it’s still a great place to get out of the house together.
Devonian Gardens Limited access in 2021
Winter can be cold, and sometimes you just get tired of snow pants, hats, and mitts. (Or, maybe you get tired of kids losing them everywhere you go.) Devonian Gardens is a unique indoor oasis located downtown in the CORE shopping centre. The Gardens are undergoing an ongoing renovation, but with green space and an indoor playground (closed in 2021), it’s a great FREE place to visit on a cold day. If you have kids that love the train, take the C-train downtown to add to the fun!
Board games have become a quintessential family activity over the years. But instead of you forking out all the money to buy all the games, check out one of the many board game cafes in Calgary. For a small fee, your family can buy some snacks and try out some new games.
So, Get Out and Play!
Whether winter break flies by for you and your family (or feels like a lifetime), add some playtime to your holidays. Everyone needs a break from the house, and you can make some wonderful – and maybe surprising! – memories.