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The Cash-Strapped Student's Guide To Creating Perfect Winter Memories

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There isn't a single spot in your brain that is reserved for "the Winter Holidays," instead, you would remember the "Winter Holidays" by the smell of hot chocolate or eggnog, the sudden jingle of bells, or warmth given off by the heat of a warm fire. Memories are created and triggered by your senses. These are great activities to do in Calgary that will stimulate your senses...because you'll never know when you are creating a memory.

Identifying as a university student in Calgary, we are a frugal collective, but I have attempted to find the top things to do for free or under $5 in Calgary for those that would love to celebrate the Christmas cheer and create memories filled with warmth and joy with a budget.


1) Sight:

Visit one of the free art galleries or displays in Calgary and revel in picturesque images that discover and explore the human condition.

Try: The Art Gallery of Calgary (entrance by donation), the University of Calgary's Nickle Galleries, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Alberta College Art +Design front lobby, the Ledge Gallery in the EPCOR Centre's Plus 15 pedway system, Art Central studios, any art shop (browse only!), the Devonian Gardens. If all else fails, create your own winter art or crafts with a loved one! (Knit a QR Code into a scarf!)

Walk around your neighborhood and judge which houses have the best display of lights.

Try: Lighten Up Calgary (a map of Calgary's best home light displays), Peace Bridge (must be a nice view of the city lights)

Take a picture with Santa- let's face it, you're never too old to take a picture with Santa!

Try: Free Photos with Santa at Sunridge Mall! (with donation to the Calgary Food Bank)

Watch fireworks on New Year's Eve.

Try: Olympic Plaza

2) Smell:

Take a hike. Literally. Smell the pine cones and evergreen trees.

Try: Nosehill Park, Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, Prince's Island Park

Generic brand of hot chocolate + dollar store marshmallows = yum!

Try: The dollar store or local Tim Hortons.


3) Sound:

Try to catch spontaneous music performances that occurs in Calgary downtown area, ranging from the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra to churches.

Try: Drop by into any church to hear a gospel choir belt out traditional melodies, any Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra's free performances in the downtown area and libraries, the National Music Centre's free public tours, University performances (students get in free to Drama, Dance, Music and Art events!)


4) Taste:

Buy a generic brand of hot chocolate in a tin can with marshmallows picked up from the dollar store (these sugary food stuffs will taste all the same, I promise!)

Try: the dollar store, eggnog from Superstore, hot chocolate from Tim Hortons and add dollar store marshmallows, dunking dollar store tea biscuits into hot chocolate from Time Hortons.

5) Touch:

Toboggan down a hill on snowpants or crazy carpet and taste the snow you will get on your face.

Try: Nosehill Park, local hill with minimal tree landscape, blog on best places to toboggan in Calgary.

Run up the Crescent Heights staircase and catch a glimpse of the city's landscape.

Try: Crescent Heights Staircase.

If you own a pair of skates, skate at a frozen ice rink.

Try: Olympic Plaza, The Olympic Oval (if you are a University of Calgary student, entrance is free and skate rentals are $5), if you live in Corral Springs (you have a frozen pond).