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Keep your exam season bright with these local holiday light displays

By Christie Melhorn, December 8 2017 — 

With the combination of the holidays, exams and major deadlines, student are stressed and wallets are strapped. The pressure to attend various ugly-sweater themed gatherings and baking up a storm can evoke your inner-scrooge. However, you can rekindle your holiday spirit and stabilize your sanity by taking an evening to admire one of the city’s many decadent light displays. The following places aren’t debilitating to a student budget and the time spent with a loved one could make for a great unconventional gift.

The CORE’s Christmas trees:

On Nov. 23, a collection of Calgary companies came together in the downtown CORE shopping centre to decorate 150 christmas trees lining the mall’s pathways. The many glimmering trees frame the 45-foot centrepiece tree dressed in bold red and gold ornaments. The spectacle soothes shopping anxiety and it’s simply enjoyable to observe the unique character of each tree. Check it out between 10 a.m.–8 p.m. from Monday to Saturday and 10 a.m.–6 p.m. on Sundays until Dec. 21.

Lions Festival of Lights:

Every December, a stretch of Confederation Park along 14th St. NW transforms into an enchanting realm of glittering lights. The elaborate display is a collaborative effort from many volunteers and sponsors sharing holiday cheer with other Calgarians. It can be enjoyed from the comfort of your vehicle when driving but it’s worth pulling over and exploring, especially since this December has been exceptionally warm. Crossing Confederation Park’s bridges looped with lights feels like entering a new dimension. The lights are on from 6 p.m.–midnight until Jan. 8, 2018.


While Zoolights isn’t cheap to attend, you get a big bang for your buck. As early as late August, Zoo staff meticulously string over 1.5-million lights across the grounds. Some set-ups flicker and alternate in harmony with music whereas others are interactive, such as the signature Tunnel of Love adorned with soft pink and red heart-shaped lights. Each section of the Zoo boasts different themed displays, with this year’s overarching theme being Alice in Wonderland. You can hop down the rabbit hole to in the Enmax Conservatory and see twinkling versions of the Red Queen’s Court and the Mad Hatter’s tea party. You can also learn more about the Zoo’s many inhabitants at different interactive stations while warming up indoors.

Between numerous animal-shaped goodies, gallons of hot chocolate and bonfires aplenty, the photo opportunities are limitless and can resurrect your Instagram after weeks of end-of-semester neglect. Zoolights runs from 6–9 p.m. every night until Jan. 6, 2018 and general admission is $23.

The night sky:

Lavish light displays reflect human creativity and artistic skill. Many of them can evoke powerful feelings of awe and excitement, but the natural world has an even more profound ability to do so. Cozy up with a tumbler of tea or hot chocolate and admire the lights that we often forget decorate our sky each night. See constellations like Taurus and Perseus before they shift further out of Calgary’s line of view in the coming months. Click here for a detailed chart of Calgary’s December sky.

To experience the sky’s vibrancy at it’s fullest, driving out of town is ideal. However, simply going to a place like Nose Hill Park or hanging out in your backyard to look at the stars can give you those pleasant chills.

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