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'A very positive season': Holiday work parties in full swing in Calgary


Holiday work and corporate Christmas parties appear to be in full swing in Calgary with many venues and restaurants booked up for much of December.

Nicole Simpson, the general manager of Mercato on Fourth Street S.W., says they have lots of reservations booked for Christmas parties for groups of 10 and more.

“Busy! Busy, busy so far," she told CTV News on Tuesday.

"I always kind of the judge the feel of what the Christmas season will be and how we’ll be after Thanksgiving. We started getting busy right after Thanksgiving so I know this year we’re shaping up to be a busy season.

“Large groups, lots of corporate parties lots of corporate lunches which we like."

Simpson says business has returned to pre-pandemic levels for both their restaurant and catering they offer through their market as well.

“Pretty much November and December are our two busiest months of the year so we make hay while the sun shines. It is great for us and after New Year’s there’s a quiet week, people are taking it easy but then it hopefully picks right up again come February.”

It’s not just restaurants that are busy but large venues are also booked to accommodate large corporate Christmas and holiday parties.

David Howard with The Event Group says companies recognize the need to show their appreciation of staff given the hard economic times.

“We’re swamped we were busy the second week of November moving all the way through December into January, so annual events don’t have to be Christmas time but you know we’re busy Thursday, Friday, Saturday producing for clients across Alberta. It’s madness and I love it,” he said.

Howard says they are planning parties anywhere from 200 to 2,000 people, ranging from $100 to $500 per person.

“We are doing galas of course and formal events," he said. "Three, four, five-course meals, high-end. Bands and entertainment outside of that. There is that traditional flair but there is also that idea of that live concert experience.

“If you’re going to spend money, do it right.”

Some restaurants and bars in Calgary are also going the extra mile to attract holiday parties.

SunnyCider Bar and Kitchen has been transformed into Tinseltown for the month, a Christmas-themed pop-up bar with creative holiday cocktails and games.

The owner, Dennis Scanland, says he’s hosted the pop-ups in the past and decided to do another heading into the holidays to bring in more business.

“We’re having trouble getting corporate bookings this year so we thought we’d go for something more public that people can bring their friends, family out to,” he said.

“We haven’t seen a lot of Christmas parties for the last couple years, it has been really quiet so this year decided to do something a little bit different.”

Scanland says he notices that people are hanging on to their dollars a little bit more and says offering something special goes a long way to get people through the door.

“December is really important because it builds up as you can imagine in the liquor and restaurant industry, January is really slow so you try and put money in the bank in December to try and ride the slow times in January and February.” Top Stories

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