Your guide to family fun on a budget in Calgary

By Sarah Sussman

Having fun with the family on a budget can be a challenge. But thankfully, there are a ton of affordable, recreational activities offered for families in the city of Calgary. Whether you’re looking to catch a movie, take a cooking class, learn to code HTML or get some exercise, here’s your guide to low-cost family fun. [Photo credit:]

Your guide to family fun on a budget in Calgary

Get creative

On Saturdays, Michael’s craft stores offer $2 drop-in Kids Club art sessions for children ages three and up. Each session takes place between 10 a.m. and noon and include all materials and supplies with different crafts each week. Let your child play Picasso while you shop around the store, then pick up some supplies and go home to make more artwork together.

If you have a young one aged two or three years old, head to the new South Health Campus to sign up for a weekly Creative Exploration dance class for adults and children. The 45-minute long class offers an open-ended creative space for children to develop fine motor skills and learn to express their emotions through movement. The 10-class program costs $70 for members and $90 for non-members.

Chef it up

Local company Poppy Innovations offers a series of affordable cooking classes for parents and children at various locations throughout the city. With prices starting at $40 for one parent and one child – and $10 for each additional child – Poppy’s classes are an affordable way to learn how to cook with the kids. Attend a Cooking with Colour class to learn more about cooking with produce. And if you’re looking for something more intensive, a six-week long parent and child culinary program is also available for $250 for one parent and one child and $40 for each additional child. All supplies and food are included. For a list of upcoming cooking classes, visit the Poppy Innovations website.

Work up a sweat

On statutory holidays, select Calgary recreational facilities offer free public swimming and free public skating. Many leisure centres also offer weekly discount admission nights for families. On Tuesdays, the Southland Leisure Centre has half price admission from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m. On Wednesdays, the Village Square Leisure Centre has half price admission from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m. And on Saturday evenings, Village Square offers half price pool admission from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m.

Another great and surprisingly affordable family activity to try in the warmer months is golf. Children ages six through 17 golf for free with adults during Family Night at McCall Lake, Lakeview and Richmond Green golf courses. Discounted family rates for a family of four are also available at those same three golf courses, starting at $33 without a golf club rental or $37 with a golf club rental.

The City of Calgary also offers regularly scheduled nature and wildlife themed drop-in events at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary as well as historic nature walks at Edworthy Park. Take the whole family down to search for critters, learn how to identify animal tracks or just walk along a scenic Calgary trail. For a list of upcoming low-cost recreational activities offered by the City of Calgary, check out the City of Calgary website.

Read together

For those with children ages two through five, all Calgary Public Library locations host drop-in Family Storytime sessions on a weekly basis. The 30-minute interactive event includes story readings, songs and finger plays. No registration is required.

The Calgary Public Library also hosts a plethora of free events and programs for adults, children, teens and babies. Drop in with the family on a Sunday afternoon at select locations for Chess in the Library or catch a Family Magic Show over the weekend at the Alexander Calhoun, Country Hills or Shawnessy library locations. For a complete list of current programming, visit the Calgary Public Library website.

Local Calgary book store Owl’s Nest Books is another great option for families who love to read together. Sign your children up for the Junior Owlets (Grade 3 through Grade 6) or Senior Owlets (Grade 7 through Grade 9) book clubs to get the kids interested in reading. Each month a new book is assigned and once a month the book club convenes to discuss the current reading. While parents aren’t encouraged to show up to the Junior and Senior Owlet events, you can read the assigned book club reading with the whole family and discuss it together.

It’s not difficult to have low-cost fun with the family in Calgary. Regardless of what your family is into, there are numerous economically-priced sporty, culinary, creative, literary and outdoorsy events and programs for everyone to enjoy.

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