Why you need to hit up High River this holiday season

You too can skip the hoards and step into a festive yet chilled shopping experience

Have you started your holiday shopping yet? I went back to High River (my hometown) to visit my brother last week, and got a leg up on it then. I was ecstatic with what I found. So thrilled, I just had to share. The malls get so crowded at this time of year, but High River is the ultimate escape from city stressors. Brimming with charming independent shops, super friendly locals and lovely spots for a meal, it’s a tonic to the senses. Here’s a snapshot of what you ought to hit up on your visit.

Leave the holiday crowds and get yourself to High River

If you’re a friend of mine, you might be getting one of these books from Pixie Hollow as your Christmas present. Act surprised, please.

Cool Clothing Stores in High River

If you’re dead set against updating your wardrobe, don’t even sneak a peek inside White Bull Clothing Co. This very Instagram-able shop has fantastic finds for fashion conscious gals between the ages of 15-50. I fell in love with a sequinned bronze dress, but there were loads of more sedate holiday dresses, plus sweaters, funky jackets and clothing that could take you from work to dinner.

high river shopping

The edit at White bull is spot on

For gifts, check out their Accessory Alley – stocked with delicate jewelry, sunglasses belts, mugs, hats, scarves and cute purses. Don’t miss the back of the store, where there’s an entire room dedicated to sales and cute baby clothing.

The Tibetan prayer flags strung from the ceiling and the scent of incense that hits you upon arrival is your cue Red Bag is a globally aware shop. They’ve ethically sourced product from around the globe for men, women and children. Head here for boho-fashions, house-made essential oils, prayer beads and Prairie Sage Soap.

hippy clothing

MC Hammer pants and Thai pillows are both fun presents found at Red Bag in High River

For Western wear, look no further than Walkers. Besides Western clothing for both sexes (shirts, hats, bedazzled jeans, etc…), they also sell moccasins and a large selection of Montana Silversmiths jewelry. For the wannabe cowboy, pick up a genuine lasso. And Heartland fans will appreciate the selection of branded product. You did know Heartland is filmed in High River, didn’t you?

Snag unique items at these High River gift stores

The displays at Pixie Hollow are irresistible. It’s such a joy to walk around this pretty shop, you just might have to set yourself a time limit. This is my go-to shop when I’m looking for something to wow my girlfriends. 

Christmas merchandizing

You’ll want to rethink your Christmas tree decorations after viewing what’s on offer at Pixie Hollow

They also sell wonderful children’s toys, puzzles and women’s clothing. The store doubles as a bookshop with an excellent selection for both children and adults. Fortify yourself with one of their fancy barista drinks or a baked treat, and you can spend even longer in here.

children's book store

Drop the wee ones off in this section of Pixie Hollow, and you may get a few minutes of uninterrupted shopping

Seven Seas Trading Company runs the gamut, carrying everything from kitchenware to wall art, plus Lug travel bags and accessories. Ladies who love little luxuries are spoiled with the selection of candles, bath and body products and jewelry. Need a Secret Santa gift? They’ve got a schwack of Christmasy knickknacks that would totally work.

kitchen store

Seven Seas has a fantastic kitchenware section

Gifts for guys

If you’ve gotta buy something for an outdoor adventure type dude, Flys Etc is the store for you. When a shop’s sporting serious taxidermy on its walls, you expect them to have cornered the market on hunting, fishing and camping gear. On this, Flys delivers. Additionally, you’ll find men’s clothing, BBQ accoutrements (fancy wood chips, seasonings, etc…), plus smokers and sausage making equipment. Yep, you can get all your outdoorsy guy stocking stuffers bought here.

green and white house winter

This house was once a day home (that I went to!). Now it’s an art gallery.

Jewelry, art and leather finds in High River

This is how friendly High River is… Inside Pixie Hollow, I met Annie Froese of Art and Soul Gallery. She informed me every Sunday from noon to 4 p.m., they host a community social. (Fret not, visitors and tourists are most welcome.) Her husband whips up about 10 pies, which you can tuck into while listening to live music and perusing the gallery. What a fun way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon!

house gallery

That’s Herb, busy making pies inside Art & Soul Gallery

If you’re on the hunt for one of a kind jewelry, all signs point to Peculiar, Leather and Jewelry Art Works. The workshop is smack dab in the middle of the store, so you can watch artisan Efrain Perdomo work his magic on custom jewelry, leather purses and bags. With landscape paintings by local artist Shelia Rowe dotting the walls, the shop rocks a relaxed gallery feel.

man holding purse

Jody: OK, Efrain, smile!
Efrain: This is me smiling.

Forge & Facet Jewellers sell many different brands of Swiss watches like Tissot, plus Victoria Knox Swiss Army knives. For collectors, there are coins from the Royal Canadian Mint. While they specialize in design and custom jewelry, they also sell titanium jewelry by local artist Jesper Jensen. I was most impressed by their consignment jewelry that’s in fantastic condition.

square cut pink diamond ring

Pssst…. the owner of this consignment ring is willing to negotiate price

Interestingly, both jewellers sell Amonite products. Amonite is a dazzling iridescent gemstone that can only be found in Alberta. It’s made from fossilized shells and its flashy colours make it a very versatile piece of jewelry.

artisan store

Peculiar Leather and Jewelry Art Works doubles as a workshop and a gallery

Bar 13 Soap Works

If you’re into grooming, you’ll love Bar 13 Soap Works. There’s plenty of stocking stuffers to snap up here, plus they release new scents each season. Choose from candles, cured soap (they last longer), bath bombs, lip balm, body lotion and my favourite: shower steamers. I’d never heard of shower steamers before, so I bought a few to try out. You place them on the shower floor, and as the water falls onto it, it fizzes away like a bath bomb. Not only do they release awesome scents, they clean your drain!

shower bombs

These are the shower steamers I’m now a fan of

Where to eat in High River

Evelyn’s Memory Lane is your classic, retro-style diner with a jukebox and toy train constantly running along a ceiling track. Slide up to the counter or into a comfy booth to chow down on sandwiches (try the Hutterite chicken!) made with homemade bread. Actually, most everything is made from scratch including their soup and even ice cream. There’s a ton of fun ice cream flavours like Fat Elvis comprised of peanut butter, banana, chocolate and bacon. Try to save room for a slice of their ribbon worthy pie. 

milkshake at a diner

The shakes at Evelyn’s Memory Lane were off the hook. The beef stew was a daily special, but tasted more like a curry – in a very good way.

Sugary sustenance to power you through your day can be found at Sheena’s Sweets and Such. It’s set up like a corner grocery store complete with mini grocery carts for the littles. The back section is overflowing with gift items that range from baby care to decorative pillows and quilts.

children's candy store

Kids have a ball exploring the many aisles of candy at Sheena’s

High River Santa Clause Parade

I don’t mean to brag, but High River pulls off one of the BEST Santa Clause Parades in all of Alberta. It takes place on Friday, December 1, but there’s way more to it than a bunch of floats. First go to Light Up George Lane Park at 5 p.m. to feel all festive with carollers, hot chocolate and snuggles with Elsa, Anna & Olaf. The parade kicks off at 6:30p.m. 

santa on sleigh float

This isn’t some lame parade, it’s the real deal! (Photo credit: Sheila Sepkowski)

Warm up in the Highwood Memorial Centre with a spot of shopping at the Foothills SNAPS Winter Market. Some dude is always frying up perogies, there’s lots of other samples, plus lovely handicrafts made by local artisans. The market runs from 11 a.m. to 9p.m. on Friday (December 1!).

holiday trees

Throughout the holiday season, High River looks magical, especially at night (Photo credit: Town of High River)

Hot dogs and hot chocolate is served up at the High River United Church from 5 to 6 p.m. Their Gifts of Hope Christmas Market runs from 4:30 to 8 p.m., and is followed by a sweet handbell concert. I picked up some gorgeous costume jewelry and retro Christmas decorations at this market last year.

Finally, a ton of local businesses (many of them featured in this post!) will be open late for holiday shopping on Friday. I’ll be there with bells on! Will you? 

shop local

This is what you’ll see as you exit White Bull Clothing

Have you ever been to High River? What would you recommend visitors do there?