Horse-drawn wagons, curly-haired pigs and 2 Nutcrackers: Calgary Entertainment

The weekend is upon us and there is a full roster of family-friendly outings to choose from including Alberta Open Farm Days, two different Nutcrackers, Heritage Park's Once Upon a Christmas and Handel's Messiah by the Foothills Philharmonic Society.

Alberta Open Farm Days

Heritage Park

Sure, it's Christmas – but it's also Alberta Open Farm Days.

This weekend, you get a chance to tour a few farms in southern Alberta. They usually hold these open houses in the summer but for the first time, they decided to show visitors what farms are like in the winter.

One of the farms is Eh Farms near Strathmore, where they raise curly-haired pigs from Eastern Europe called Mangalitsa pigs.

You can also check out Custom Woolen Mills, located just east of Carstairs. There, you'll find demos of how they produce yarns and bedding from historic machinery.

Alberta Open Farm Days runs both Saturday and Sunday, and you can go to for more information.

Two Nutcrackers

Eh Farms

Yes, there are two Nutcrackers out there, and both are kid-friendly. One is a ballet and the other is a play.

Alberta Ballet's annual production of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker kicks off tomorrow evening at 7 p.m. But Calgary Young People's Theatre has a brand new take on the holiday classic.

It's a sequel of sorts, involving a couple of dozen actors ranging in age from eight to 19.

The Nutcracker: A New Adventure is about three children who get whisked away to the magical world of the Sugarplum Fairy, the Mouse King and the toys, said Jamie Dunsdon, artistic producer.

"Early on they get separated from one another," Dunsdon said. "The oldest sibling gets kidnapped by the mouse army and so the younger siblings have to team up with the toys, and the candy to rescue their sister. And it's all about holiday magic and fun, and ridiculousness, and magic, and what's special at Christmas."

The Nutcracker: A New Adventure kicks off tonight and runs until Dec. 21 at West Village Theatre.

Once Upon a Christmas

Paul McGrath

There are only two weekends left to hang out at Heritage Park for their Once Upon a Christmas event. There will be the annual horse drawn carriage rides around the village, carolling, visits with St. Nick and more. 

New this year are readings at Gasoline Alley Museum, where you can enjoy games and stories.

There's also a gourmet hot chocolate bar, and a holiday musical called The Secret of Santa's Workshop. 

Junior Claus

Did you know Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus had a kid?  Well, they do in this holiday production called Junior Claus, a one-act musical at Vertigo Theatre.

J.P. Thibodeau is the artistic director.

"Junior Claus is about Junior, who is Santa's son, and Santa has been feeling ill and slowly gets so ill and tired that he stops functioning and Christmas is in jeopardy," Thibodeau said. "And the only person who can save Christmas is Junior, by making the world believe again in Santa, is really the premise of the story — a cute, fun, engaging family musical with some great Calgary talent."

Junior Claus runs until Dec. 22.

Foothills Philharmonic Society

Heritage Park

The Foothills Philarmonic Society is putting two performances of Messiah Part 1: the Beauty of Xmas. Friday night's concert is scheduled at High River at the High River United Church, and Saturday night is scheduled in Okotoks at the Okotoks Alliance Church.

Meanwhile, Boney M – featuring its original lead singer Liz Mitchell – is playing the Grey Eagle Casino Friday at 8 p.m.

Jamming for the Food Bank

The Associated Press

The Calgary Homestretch heads to the Ironwood to Jam for the Food Bank. 

Lethbridge singer-songwriter Leeroy Stagger and his band will be our house band for the afternoon. We'll have solo artists Devin Cooper and Emily Triggs, and spoken word duo Afuhmbom and Zaire Ink. 

We'll get an update on the food bank demands with the head of the Calgary Food Bank, James McAra.

We'll meet Olympic hopeful track star Sam Effah, and a couple who repaired their marriage after travelling the world together — by bike.

We'll also meet the only Calgarian on Canada's blind hockey team, and we'll meet a Christmas carol rookie, Blackfoot actor Marshall Vielle, an award-winning local filmmaker.

Of course, Homestretch's naturalist Brian Keating will be there.

The price of admission is a donation to the food bank, and your name will go into a draw for a CBC prize pack. So come on down, the Homestretch crew will be there from 3 to 6 p.m.

With files from the Calgary Homestretch.