As the year winds down, holiday festivities usually start to gear up. While 2020’s celebrations will look a lot different, we can still embrace the joy and spirit of the season as we continue to fight the spread of COVID-19.
From dazzling light displays to online galas to art lessons, here are some fun and safe activities to explore throughout December.
Bask in the glow of Christmas light displays from the comfort of your own vehicle. Drive through one of Edmonton’s most decorated neighbourhoods, Candy Cane Lane, or check out the city’s newest (and contact-free) attraction, Winter Wonder Forest, in Rainbow Valley. (Make sure you bring a mask—you’ll need to roll down your window so an elf can scan your online ticket when you enter.) In Calgary, visit the Christmas Lights at Spruce Meadows or the Legacy Light Parade in southeast neighbourhood of Legacy, which features more than a million lights and a house inspired by the Griswolds’ in Christmas Vacation. (There’s one in Stony Plain, too.)
It’s more important than ever to shop local. It’s also easier than ever to shop local online, thanks to MARKT. by Spruce Meadows, featuring hundreds of artisans and retailers from the Calgary area (and beyond). Lose yourself in more than 1,500 items—from Alison Evans Killam’s watercolour paintings to Rebel Bean’s Dark Side coffee roasted in Okotoks. Another virtual goldmine: localshops.com, run by two small business owners in Alberta.
SUPPORT FOOD BANKS
More Albertans are turning to food banks this year. You can make an online donation through AMA Fill Our Fleet—or if you buy a gift or new membership, AMA will donate $10 to food banks across Alberta. CTV Edmonton is also hoping to raise awareness with A Musical Holiday in Support of Edmonton’s Food Bank, a one-hour broadcast on December 19 with performers Aaron Goodvin, Carolyn Dawn Johnson, Tenille Townes and Martin Kerr.
DOUBLE THE DICKENS
If you’re a fan of A Christmas Carol, you’re in for a treat this month. Theatre companies in Alberta’s two largest cities have filmed productions of the Charles Dickens’ classic. Buy digital access to Theatre: Calgary’s version or streaming passes to the Citadel Theatre’s adaptation. Available until December 31.
Celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas in this charming video series with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. Each clip features a different musician playing a snippet of the carol, as well as revisiting their favourite Christmas memory. Stay tuned for the world premiere of chief conductor Alex Prior’s arrangement of the holiday classic—it’ll be ready to unwrap on the 12th day or December 22.
No need to dress up to the nines for this seasonal bash. Just put on your comfiest sweats, fire up your laptop and watch the Varscona Theatre’s Virtual Holiday Gala on December 20. Hosted by Edmonton actors Mark Meer and Belinda Cornish, the online event features members of the city’s theatre community performing from their own homes.
MAKE A SPLASH
Dive into the world of watercolours while raising money for the arts. Order a Create Box from the Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts, which supports artists with developmental disabilities. Not only does the box come with painting and paper supplies, there’s also a four-course video tutorial from the Nina’s art leaders. Purchase one for you and your family or give it to the aspiring painter in your life.
The CP Holiday Train is going virtual this year—with a little help from musicians Serena Ryder and The Trews. Watch the Holiday Train at Home special via CP’s Facebook page. Now in its 22nd year, the train and its display of Christmas lights usually makes stops in communities across Canada, raising money and collecting donations for local food banks.