Photo by Ricky Leong

Enjoy free holiday cheer with Christmas in Kensington

By Danielle Grant, December 11 2017 —

The fourth annual Christmas in Kensington is taking place from Dec. 2–24. From 12–4 p.m. on Saturdays and 1–3 p.m. on Sundays, carollers will wander the community’s streets. There will also be free holiday movies at the Plaza Theatre on Saturdays at 3:30 p.m., free horse and wagon rides and photos with Santa. The community event aims to spread holiday cheer by providing these complimentary holiday activities for Calgarians.

Kensington maintains a village-esque atmosphere despite its close proximity to downtown. Christmas in Kensington is one of multiple events hosted by Kensington, a non-profit community organization of the same name. Over the last few years, Kensington’s revitalization period has been marked with an increase in community-organized events.

Jamie Campbell, a representative for the Kensington organization, describes a change in approach to cultivate more community-specific events.

“We changed the model four years ago and that’s when we started bringing on events throughout the year,” Campbell says. “I think that’s what really has helped Kensington grow as a community.”

Campbell stresses the importance of including business owners in the organization of these events. Kensington boasts over 270 different businesses, a large percentage of which are Calgary-owned and -operated.

“We are really trying to listen to our businesses and what they want out of Kensington as well as the community,” Campbell says. “We are totally okay with being the first people to do something, test it out and hope things go well.”

The willingness to try new events and tailor events for the community has paid off. Earlier this year, Kensington hosted its second annual Harry Potter-themed event, which has been a magical hit. The first event was expected to have a few hundred attendees but ultimately resulted in an emergency road closure when more than 35,000 people flooded the streets of Kensington. This year’s event benefited from the support of the Calgary Police Service and a scheduled road closure.

The community-inclusive approach taken by Kensington hasn’t gone unnoticed by the City of Calgary — or even the city’s northern neighbours.

“We’ve had Edmonton, [as well as] different communities in Calgary, reaching out trying to understand how we put on our events,” Campbell says.

Holiday film selections at the Plaza are often cult favourites, including Bad Santa on Dec. 16 and Die Hard on Dec. 23. Wagon rides, carollers and pictures with Santa continue every Saturday until Christmas.

The Christmas in Kensington hub is located outside of the Plaza Theatre on Kensington Road and is the place to learn about what events are happening on a given day, as well as where to score some free hot chocolate.

More information can be found on Kensington’s Instagram or Facebook pages.

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