Compiled by the Road Trip Alberta team
Last updated on November 14, 2023
Christmas in Edmonton can be incredibly magical. Colourful holiday lights twinkle at the Legislature, craft markets are out in full force, skaters are bundled up and gliding along the new outdoor ice rink in the ICE District Plaza, plus much more. There are so many fun things to do and ways to enjoy the Christmas season in Alberta’s capital city.
Celebrating Christmas in Edmonton
From November until January, be on the lookout for all kinds of events to entertain you and the whole family. We’ve got lots of ideas for you below.
Finding the Best Christmas Lights in Edmonton, Alberta
There are plenty of places in and around Edmonton to see beautiful Christmas lights in November and December.
GLOW Edmonton, one of Edmonton’s most anticipated holiday events, presents The Jolly Jumble for the 2023 Christmas season. The Edmonton Expo is decorated with over a million twinkly lights, and fairytale favourites will lead guests through a 100,000 sq ft labyrinth of lights as you help Santa find his lost presents.
Enjoy unique entertainment, Christmas snacks, a marketplace and plenty of family-friendly activities that will keep you wanting more. Tickets can be purchased online, and it’s open for the entire month of December from 4 – 10pm.
Light up the Legislature
A holiday tradition for many years, the Legislature buildings get decked out in thousands of lights. Be there on Thursday, December 7th at 5pm sharp to see it lit up – It is not a sight to be missed! And there are even live performances in the Legislature Rotunda starting on the 8th. See more details here.
Edmonton Holiday Light up
The official date for the 2023 Edmonton Holiday Light Up is TBD, but expect live music, free hot beverages, Instagrammable displays for that perfect holiday selfie, light installations and lots of lights! Stay tuned for more details.
Winter Whyte Light Up
The Winter Whyte Light Up happens at McIntyre Park on November 25 from 4 – 7pm. In addition to this year’s light show, there will be a mini-market full of tasty treats and hot drinks to enjoy. There will also be many free family-friendly outdoor activities, exciting live entertainment, giveaways ice carvings, and a gorgeous Instagram-able light display.
Candy Cane Lane
The community of Crestwood in Edmonton’s northwest lights up their houses, garages, and canopied trees to bring you ‘Candy Cane Lane’, starting December 8th through to January 1st. Christmas spirit is abundant each night from dusk until 11 pm for everyone to enjoy. Enjoy sleigh rides (get your tickets in advance here) and two nights (December 9 and 16th) dedicated to walking, sledding, skiing, or bike traffic only.
Edmonton Valley Zoo
One of Edmonton’s favourite holiday traditions is Zoominescence – where the Edmonton Valley Zoo is aglow with light displays, local artist performances, and other entertainment. From December to January 3rd, guests will enjoy a whole new perspective of the Zoo with their exhibition of artistic light installations. It will be an evening of magical light, drinking hot chocolate, and fun for the whole family!
Finding the Best Christmas Lights Near Edmonton
Northeast of Edmonton in the town of Fort Saskatchewan, you can find a beautiful and unique Enchanted Forest with Christmas trees put together by locals at City Hall, Dow Centennial, Shell Theatre and the public library. It is one of the most celebrated holiday activities from November 24th – January 7th.
Leduc Country Lights
The Leduc Country Lights display will be lit up for all of December, including Christmas Eve. It began as a humble light display 15 years ago and has since transformed into one of Leduc’s most anticipated holiday activities. This event is 100% volunteer-operated and takes a small $2.00 entrance fee to pay for the cost of electricity.
Brighten up Beaumont
Beaumont’s annual Christmas event, Brighten up Beaumont, takes place on December 9th from 5 – 9 pm at Four Seasons Park. Take in the holiday lights down the Corridor of Trees, then climb aboard a sleigh ride and check out ice sculptures hand-crafted by Alberta’s finest. Plus much more! The event is free of charge.
Borealis Lights (St. Albert)
Marvel at thousands of twinkling lights all in the comfort of your own car at Borealis Lights. Located in the Kinsmen RV Park in St. Albert, visitors will be dazzled by a number of traditional, contemporary, and whimsical lights displays.
Get ready to be dazzled by 800,000 twinkling lights, animated displays and the well-loved 100 ft tunnel of lights. It’s open daily from November 17 to January 7, 2024, from 5 – 10 pm.
Light up (Spruce Grove)
Spruce Grove’s ‘Light Up‘ in Central Park lights up on November 25th. Children and adults can enjoy many fun family Christmas activities, including delicious Christmas treats, crafts, free hot chocolate, cookie decorating, and more. After the tree is lit, turn your eyes to the sky for a spectacular fireworks show followed by a disco party and ice skating.
Other popular light displays near Edmonton are:
- Canadian Tire’s Magic of Lights (Leduc Castrol Raceway)
- Luminaria (University of Alberta Botanic Garden)
- Celebration of Lights (Sherwood Park)
Visiting the Edmonton Christmas Markets
You can check out any of Edmonton’s Christmas markets for all your shopping needs to find unique items made and sold by local artisans and small businesses.
Edmonton Christmas market
The Edmonton Christmas Market is an annual festive event at Fort Edmonton Park from November 30 – December 17. In addition to the many booths run by local vendors, there will be plenty of Christmas events like carol singing, delicious food and drinks and, of course, beautiful Christmas decorations. Tickets are $19.95 for adults, $10.95 for kids aged 10-17, and children under 5 are free.
Edmonton Old Strathcona Farmers Market
Christmas spirit is abundant, and finding the perfect holiday gift is easy at the Old Strathcona Farmers Market. The market is open from 8 am – 3 pm every Saturday during the holiday season. You may even see Santa and Mrs. Claus onsite, plus you can catch live entertainment! And this year, every Saturday in November and December features four to six pop-up vendors, in addition to their fantastic year-round vendors. This market is a local favourite that shouldn’t be missed over the holiday season.
Royal Bison Art and Craft Fair
Art lovers will surely enjoy the Royal Bison Art and Craft Fair, taking place on November 24th – 26th and again on December 1st – 3rd near the Strathcona Farmer’s Market in Edmonton. Local literature, hand-made toys, woodworking and music are just a few things you can look forward to. Come and get your craft on between the hours of 5 pm – 9 pm on Friday, 10 am – 5 pm on Saturday and 10 am – 4 pm on Sunday. Admission is $5 and kids under 12 get in free.
Other popular markets in Edmonton include:
- Merry Maker’s Market (Edmonton Expo)
- St. Albert Indoor Christmas Market (Nov 26 – Dec 17)
- River Cree Holiday Market (River Cree Casino Nov 25-27)
Carols, Plays, and Christmas Concerts in Edmonton
The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and The Richard Eaton Singers will put on a spectacular show of Handel’s Messiah this Christmas season at the Winspear Centre at the heart of the city on Friday, December 8th and Saturday, December 9th at 7:30 pm. Hear the joyful sounds of Handel’s classic arias to get in the Christmas spirit. Other shows in December include A Lightly Classical Christmas and A Very Merry Pops. See their website for a complete listing.
Some say that Edmonton is Alberta’s cultural capital, and no one visiting Edmonton during the holidays should miss The Alberta Ballet’s annual presentation of that classic Christmas tale, The Nutcracker. Running from December 6 – December 10th, The Nutcracker tells the tale of Klara as she goes on a fun and magical adventure at Christmas.
With performances in Edmonton and Calgary, this is a show that everyone in Alberta looks forward to every year, and tickets sell out fast, so don’t forget to get yours. They can be purchased directly from the Alberta Ballet’s website.
Where to Find Santa in Edmonton
What better way to get in the spirit of holidays than a visit with the man in the big red suit! Big Santa secret: he loves to spend time in Alberta, especially at most malls throughout the city. If you can’t find him at the mall, you may find him at any of these locations throughout the city to capture those festive Santa photos.
The Kingsway Holiday Parade
The Kingsway Holiday Parade takes place on November 18th starting at 5pm and is a fun and free way to catch a glimpse of Santa as he makes his way from the east Airport Road entrance to the Kingsway Mall in the Northwest part of Edmonton. Set up a chair, and don’t forget to dress warmly!
Christmas in the Park
Hosted by the small town of Devon, about a 40-minute drive southwest of Edmonton, Christmas in the Park on November 25th is your chance to meet Santa and tell him everything on your Christmas list. Additionally, there will be delicious food, including maple syrup taffy and hot chocolate, an ice slide, and a warming bonfire. Come on down to this special small-town event!
St. Albert Centre
Kids (and adults) can visit Santa at the St. Albert Centre from November 17th right up until Christmas Eve. Take a photo with him after finishing up your Christmas shopping, and if you visit before December 6th, you’ll even be entered to win tickets to an Edmonton Oilers game!
Other Christmas Events and Activities in Edmonton
There are enough Christmas events throughout Edmonton and the smaller surrounding towns to fill any day of the week with Christmas cheer. Here are just a few more:
The Muttart Conservatory
This year, the Muttart Conservatory‘s Candelight Christmas features musical performances by the McDades taking place in the feature pyramid and centre court. You can catch this special performance on the 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th. Be sure to get your tickets in advance.
Also, on Saturday, November 18th, the conservatory opens its doors to the public for the annual poinsettia sale. Find your favourite white or red Christmas flower while supplies last.
Take part in a special Nutcracker Afternoon Christmas Tea at the Fairmont Hotel MacDonald every Saturday and Sunday from November 11th until January 7th. Tea takes place in the Harvest Room of the Hotel MacDonald and includes traditional finger sandwiches, scones, a wide variety of loose-leaf tea, sweets, champagne and sparkling cocktails. It is recommended to reserve your table in advance.
There are a number of spots throughout the city for ice skating, both outdoor and indoor. Head on down to Edmonton’s city hall or over to the new outdoor ice rink in the ICE District Plaza. It is open to the public from 10 am – 10 pm, during which time skating is completely free.
For those freezing cold days, head to West Edmonton Mall Ice Palace, where you can spend a snowy Saturday or Sunday skating in the warmth of the mall.
Edmonton certainly has no shortage of snow, and sledding is a fun and free family event that you can do any day of the week, all winter long. While some argue that parks are more enjoyable in the summer, the hilly terrain of NW Edmonton makes for some spectacular sledding. Notable locations include Emily Murphy Park, William Hawrelak Park, Gallagher Park, Government House Park, and Whitemud Park North.
Looking for more holiday cheer?
- The Best Christmas Lights in Alberta
- 25+ Festive Ways to Enjoy Christmas in Calgary
- 20+ Festive Ways to Enjoy Christmas in Banff
Pete is a co-founder of Road Trip Alberta. Growing up in Edmonton he has an extensive knowledge of Alberta and everything the province has to offer. He loves to eat good food, hike (especially in the winter), play tennis and curl. Apart from running Road Trip Alberta, he is a director with HMI, a digital media agency, half of the Hecktic Travels duo, and a co-creator of the popular card game Trip Chaser.