6 foodie events and festivals to check out in Calgary this December

By Sarah Sussman

With all the holiday fun that comes with it, December is a goldmine for foodies. From life-sized gingerbread houses and markets to eggnog competitions and winter festivals, here are six foodie events and festivals to check out in Calgary this month.

[Photo credit: iStock.com/juliannafunk]

6 foodie events and festivals to check out in Calgary this December

Learn to market yourself

Holiday craft markets are a quintessential holiday experience and a great place to scope for rare food finds.

One of the biggest Christmas craft markets in the country, the Festival of Crafts takes over the BMO Centre from Dec. 7 until Dec. 10 with hundreds of vendors and lots of tasty artisanal treats. Score some of the “it” ingredients of the year, like birch syrup from Canadian Birch Company, fruit wines from Shady Lane Estate, artisanal condiments from Get Sauced and dried bison snacks from Trails End Buffalo Stix. If you’re in a DIY mood (or looking for a fun gift idea), pick up a cheese-making kit from Make Cheese.

For the first three weekends of December, Market Collective returns for its annual holiday market at Inglewood’s historic Yellow Warehouse. Since its inception in 2008, Market Collective has quickly become the go-to spot for scoping unique, locally-made goods. This year’s vendors include Calgary foodie favourites like Made By Marcus ice cream and Old Coal handcrafted chocolates.

Celebrate Christmas in Kensington

Every year, the Kensington neighbourhood welcomes the holiday season with weekend Christmas programming throughout December. Sip on complimentary coffee and hot chocolate and check out movies by donation at the Plaza Theatre. And don’t worry if you can’t make it down on the weekend – there are plenty of fun festive foodie things to do throughout the week.

Drop into Peasant Cheese for all your holiday cheese and charcuterie needs or to score gifts for the people who are impossible to shop for – after all, who wouldn’t want cheese for Christmas? The shop also has traditional Loison brand panettone in stock right now.

If you want a guilt-free seasonal indulgence, Wild & Raw Superfood Juice Bar has a healthified menu of (mostly) plant-based desserts that are perfect for the holidays. The dairy-free cheesecake is a must – especially if you can get your hands on the gingerbread cookie dough option.

And if you have some out of town guests, impress them by taking them off the beaten path to Cotto for comforting home-cooked Italian food courtesy of chef Giuseppe Di Gennaro. It’s a charming little spot with a cozy and intimate interior. If you’re looking for tidings of comfort and joy, this is the place to be.

Enjoy the sweet life

This is quite literally one of the sweetest things happening this month! The Calgary Food Bank has teamed up with the Drop In Centre to install a massive life-sized gingerbread house at the Fairmont Palliser Hotel. The house features real icing and gingerbread men and was built using five kilograms of assorted candy and 120 kilograms of sugar. It’s colourful, festive and totally Instagram-worthy. The cost of admission is a non-perishable food item for the Calgary Food Bank or a cash donation to the Drop-In Centre (or both)!

And while you’re at the Fairmont, you should probably book a seat at the popular afternoon tea service. Dig into scones, sandwiches and holiday pastries (whiskey caramel tart, anyone?) as well as a seasonal chef’s charcuterie. There’s also a menu for children with goodies like cereal-flavoured milk and cookies, strawberry cream cheese tartines and Kinder Surprise eggs.

It's been a slice

Calling all pie lovers! Local artisan pie company Pie Junkie hosts a fun-filled day of festive activities and (of course) lots of pie at its Spruce Centre location. Drop in for apple cider, pies and cookies and spend the day perusing Spruce Centre’s numerous local boutiques. Make sure you grab a Pie Junkie pie to take home as well. The coconut cream pie is an unexpected seasonal treat featuring layers of coconut cream and toasted coconut encased in a flaky, buttery crust.

Nog off for a bit

Here’s one for all the craft cocktail lovers! On Dec. 6, Makina Labrecque (from Proof) faces off against Edmonton’s James Grant (from Holy Roller) during The Great Alberta Nog-Off. The two bartenders compete to see who can make the best eggnog using Novo Fogo artisanal cachaça from Brazil.

And if you’re still craving nog afterwards, there are tons of places with yummy seasonal eggnog treats. Both Euphoria Café (in Crowchild Square Plaza) and Higher Ground offer amazing seasonal eggnog lattes. And if you want something that packs more of a punch, the Ship & Anchor is back with its legendary boozy Ship Nog. Featuring cream, egg, spice and liquor, Ship Nog is a classic Calgary holiday treat available only during the month of December. And in the spirit of the season, $5 from the sale of each glass goes to charity.

Check out the first-ever Northwestival

One of the newest festivals in the city, Northwestival is an outdoor winter festival in celebration of everything festive and Canadian. This year’s debut festival takes place at the University District’s Discovery Centre with live entertainment, DIY ugly sweater workshops and more. It’s also got a great lineup of events for gourmands, including a smore station and appearance from YYC Food Trucks favourites like Dumpling Hero and Calgary Mini Donuts.

With so many great finds for foodies, get out this month and explore the best of Calgary’s festive offerings. Whether you’re scoping the holiday markets or digging in to festive eats and treats there’s no shortage of tasty things to do in December.

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