Experiencing the CP Holiday Train in Calgary

Being a railfan (“train nut”), timing is everything, and luck counts. I could hardly believe my luck that the Canadian Pacific Railway’s famous CP Holiday Train was going to be in Calgary for 45 minutes while I was there! After our excellent day hiking Johnston Canyon, Andrea was still game to take me down to the south end of Calgary see it.

The CP Holiday Train began its cross-Canada tour in Adirondack Junction (Kahnawake), Quebec, on November 25th, and would finish in Port Coquitlam, BC, on December 17th. Most of the 171 stops are 30 minutes long, but a few large centres get a bit of extra time.

The CP Holiday Train began these tours in 1999. It operates in a charitable way to raise money, food donations and awareness for food banks across Canada.

The train was scheduled to arrive at Anderson C-Train Station at 6:45, and we got to the area almost an hour early. Good thing – traffic was heavy and we had to park almost a kilometer away. But we got a great spot to watch the arrival.

The Canadian Pacific Christmas Holiday Train in Calgary
The +9°C temperature (48°) brought out tens of thousands of people. I haven’t found an official figure, but my guess is about 30,000 – about the same number of people as the population of the Yukon! Pretty shocking for a country boy 🙂 I had initially said that I didn’t want to go because of the crowds, but I may never get another chance to see it.

The Canadian Pacific Christmas Holiday Train in Calgary
Last year in Calgary, the weather was very cold, and only 4,000 people showed up for the Holiday Train. This year sure made up for that!

The Canadian Pacific Christmas Holiday Train in Calgary
Even this year, many people only stayed for a few minutes, and Andrea and I kept moving closer and closer to the stage car as space opened up.

The CP Rail Holiday Train in Calgary
A big part of the Holiday Train event is the free concert – in Calgary, Colin James, and Alan Doyle and The Beautiful Band, were the main performers. I had to Google Alan Doyle – he was the lead singer of Great Big Sea, which broke up about 4 years ago. They were all clearly pumped by the turnout, and the concert was a lot of fun.

The CP Rail Holiday Train in Calgary

What a superb way to end this day. Sometimes (well, often actually), it amazes me how lucky I am 🙂



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