Location: Heritage Park, Calgary
Dates: Every weekend in Dec. until Christmas
Hours: 9:30am – 4:00pm
Cost: Gate admission ($8 for adults and $6 for kids). 50% off coupons are available at Safeway.

One of the more wonderful Christmas traditions that we’ve adopted over the years is a visit to Heritage Park during the Christmas season and partake in Once Upon a Christmas. Somehow the park always manages to impress me and this year was no exception. We planned to go for a couple of hours and ended up staying for the entire day.

The day consisted of a surprise brunch, rides in a horse drawn carriage, baby farm animals, Santa’s reindeer, crafts, carolling, homemade gingerbread cookies, and much much more. For Niña, this year was all about exploration and discovery and she soaked every historical detail she could find. This was further fuelled by each of the park’s houses, which were decorated based on a certain period in Alberta’s history.

The Prince House was decked out as an Edwardian Christmas with intricate designs plus rich reds and greens. The Burnside Ranch House displayed a pioneer Christmas with handmade decorations on a threadbare birch tree. Hot cider and handmade treats were in the kitchen but nothing could be eaten or sampled because the house doesn’t have running water.

The synagog was all dressed up for Hanukkah. Jewish women explained the candle and food rituals that occur over during the course of the week. Niña learned how to play with a dreidel, a four-sided spinning top used in games that the persecuted pretended to play with in the woods to hide their religious practices from officials.

In all, a wonderful day well worth the drive.