Although winter is a great time to cosy up and stay indoors, the Alberta’s coldest season is also filled with magical sunny days — perfect for getting outside and enjoying all that this winter wonderland has to offer.
Here are 5 fun ways to experience the ice and snow in Alberta this winter.
1. Explore the North Saskatchewan River Valley
As the longest expanse of urban greenspace in North America, the North Saskatchewan River Valley parks system is a must-see when visiting Edmonton. Also known as the River Valley Parks, this continuous collection of more than 30 provincial and municipal parks in the Edmonton region is a winter time activity hub.
The River Valley Adventure Co. located at 9735 Grierson Hill Northwest right beside Edmonton’s Louise McKinney Riverfront Park, has everything you need for a variety of winter activities in the valley, from fat bike and snow shoe rentals to guided Segway tours.
Their Beginner Segway Adventure is a unique way to explore the valley with one of their knowledgeable guides, starting with in-depth training, and then for the remainder of your time taken on a ride to experience the beautiful scenery of the river valley.
Feel like pedalling a fat bike for your River Valley adventure? Rent one by the hour or day, and explore the parks and 480 kilometres of trails throughout the city.
2. Skate at Olympic Plaza
As the name suggests, Calgary’s Olympic Plaza was built for the 1988 Winter Olympics, and skating there is a must-do winter activity in the city. Located at the end of Stephen Avenue, the plaza is one of the few refrigerated outdoor rinks in the city, and is a hub of downtown activity.
The plaza features a large seating area, enchanting evening and holiday lighting, and hosts many special events & festivals throughout the winter.
Bring your own skates or rent them from Calgary Skate Rentals, practice your skills and have some fun, then take a stroll down one of the most pedestrian friendly streets in the city to get a coffee or hot chocolate.
READ MORE: A Canadian first: New ice bikes wheel into Calgary’s Bowness Park!
3. Enjoy a winter festival
Edmonton is known as “the Festival City,” and as a place where people embrace winter wholeheartedly, this means their festival season runs year-round. So bundle up and head out to one of the many annual winter time festivals Alberta’s capital city has to offer.
The Boardwalk Ice on Whyte Festival turns Edmonton’s Whyte Avenue into an ice carving extravaganza each winter, as it hosts some of the best ice carvers in the world. Along with winter activities and delicious food, you can take in the international ice carving competition called Chiseled.
From Jan. 24 to 26, downtown at the ICE District Plaza, be dazzled by eight teams of internationally acclaimed carvers as they create 15 sculptures over 34 hours, and then vote for your favourite sculpture.
The festival moves to Dr. Wilbert McIntyre Park Jan. 27 to 29, where you can join in the fun by taking in carving demonstrations from resident carvers, and then try your hand carving some ice at their Chippers Classes. Available to all ages, the carving lessons include hands-on instruction, tools and safety gear, and give you a chance to create your own piece of ice carving art! (Participation is by a suggested $3 donation).
Other winter festivals include Deep Freeze: A Byzantine Winter Festival from Jan. 21 to 22, Flying Canoë Volant from Feb. 1 to 4 and the Silver Skate Festival from Feb. 10 to 20.
4. Canyon Ski Resort
As Alberta’s largest non-mountain family ski area, Red Deer’s Canyon Ski Resort is the perfect family destination for winter fun! It includes 80 acres of skiable terrain, 23 runs, six lifts, a terrain park, snow tube park, and lodge, cafeteria and lounge. With all this, and a giant snow-making system, you can keep coming back for more, all winter!
5. Have a blast at Chinook Blast
New in 2021, Chinook Blast is a six-week winter festival running from Jan. 27 to Feb. 12, celebrating community, culture and civic pride.
The festival kicks of with Calgary’s International Festival of the Arts High Performance Rodeo which has been taking over downtown Calgary in various unique locations for 33 years with theatre, dance, music, film, free lunchtime concerts, late-night cabarets and much more.
Chinook Blast also includes some of Calgary’s best-known winter events like the Calgary Folk Music Festival’s Block Heater, a huge festival of live music events running city-wide from Feb. 9 to 12. Artists include Elliot Brood, Sister Ray, Luca Fogale and many more.
Sporting events at the festival include the annual Snow Rodeo FIS Snowboard World Cup and Nitro Rally Cross – an intense combination of rallycross and big air excitement where cars fly.
So get out and experience all the fun, festive and active events and attractions in Alberta this winter!
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