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Author: Mhairri Woodhall

Born in Hong Kong and raised in Vancouver, Mhairri now lives in Calgary with her husband and daughter. Specializing in family, luxury and culinary focused travel, Mhairri loves exploring her new province, nourishing her wanderlust and writing about her adventures.

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Glass baubles and flutes of bubbles. Jazzed up, smoothed out carols. Rosy cheeks care of crisp air and seasonal cocktails. It’s that time of year again and I just can’t get enough of downtown Calgary’s holiday finery and festivities.

My husband and I have booked a quick getaway in the city. Our weekend dedicated to all things indulgent includes a restaurant tour, holiday lights festival and last minute Christmas shopping. For us, it’s really a time to enjoy each other’s company before the seasonal rush of parties, dinners and events takes over our calendar.

Illuminations, Celebrations and Libations

Last night we strolled amidst 1.5 million glittering fairy lights at the Calgary Zoo’s annual Zoolights. Cozy down filled coats, wool mittens and hats, mugs of steaming hot chocolate and the zoo’s many crackling fire pits kept us warm on the brisk winter evening. Lights sparkling against the snow-draped backdrop, a live choir and larger than life Christmas tree made for a most magical evening.

After, we headed to quaint and eclectic Inglewood for dinner and drinks. Our timing was impeccable as the neighbourhood’s annual Christmas in Inglewood celebration was in full swing. Located just a few blocks from downtown, historic Inglewood is a collage of more than 80 boutiques, gourmet shops and exceptional cafés and restaurants. On the first three Saturday evenings in December, all the businesses are open late, with live performances and special surprises to discover throughout.

One of the city’s top fine dining restaurants, Rouge, is located in a historic home, here, on the banks of the Bow River. After picking up a few gifts at the Silk Road Spice Merchant and artisan chocolate maker Choklat for our foodie friends, we sampled the famed Chef’s Tasting Menu. Locally sourced and seasonally inspired, the inventive menu changes often. Delicious is an understatement. As it’s a popular spot, especially over the Christmas season, advance reservations are a must.

City Lights, Bubbles and Bites

Tonight we’re lavished with joy and merriment. Downtown’s Fairmont Palliser shimmers during the holidays. Boughs of holly, a spectacular pastry display and twinkling lights transform the hotel entryway. Sitting in the Oak Room lobby lounge, our champagne flutes full, we simply enjoy the festivities. There’s a vibrancy and bustle here. Families returning from a day of exploring the city and shops, couples off for a romantic evening and groups of friends ready for a night on the town.

We plan to take in the city skyline from high above the Palliser – 190.8 m (626 ft) up, to be precise. I can only imagine how the holiday lights will dazzle from the top of the Calgary Tower. Dinner at the revolving Sky 360 Restaurant and Lounge promises more magic. After that, who knows? Late night shopping, an intimate cocktail lounge, a stroll down to Olympic Plaza to watch the ice skaters – or perhaps all of the above. Ah, the stress of the holidays.

Activity Highlights
  • White Christmas
  • Dining
  • Shopping
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