With its mountains, rolling hills, forest landscapes and soft meadows, Alberta is a fun, beautiful place to visit in the spring and summer, but that’s not the only time you can visit. Yes, the winter can be cold and snowy, but the reward you get is so worth it. There’s so much more to do here in the winter than just skiing or snowboarding.
There’s just something special about Alberta in the winter. It takes on a whole new look and feel and it opens an entire world of new activities to do and scenes to see. So what are you waiting for? Cuddle up in a blanket, enjoy a warm cup of hot chocolate, and let’s explore this western winter wonderland together.
1 – Ice on Whyte Festival
Ice sculptures are beautiful, but if you haven’t been to the Ice on Whyte Festival in Edmonton, Alberta, you haven’t seen nothing yet. Once a small festival of sculptures done by local artists, this event has now grown into a full ten days of winter activities, ice carving lessons and ice sculptures by artists from around the world. (It runs from the end of January to the beginning of February.)
(Image Courtesy of HerelsTom)
2 – Skijoring
Love cross-country skiing? Always wanted to try dog sledding, but not sure about working with so many dogs at once? Then you’ve GOT to try skijoring. Not only is it a fun way to get some exercise, but you get a unique look at the region and can see what this province is really made of. Interested? Two to try include Klondike Ventures in the Rocky Mountain House area and Mad Dogs & Englishmen in the Canmore area.
3 – Snow Tubing
You can still enjoy the outdoors if you’re in the city and unable to get out to the province’s more rural locations. The city of Edmonton, for instance, makes it easy and convenient for locals and tourists to go snow tubing at the Sunridge Ski Area. It’s thrilling and easy enough for kids and adults of all ages.
4 – Sleigh Rides
For those of you who want to see Alberta’s stunning snowy scenes and sip a cup of hot cocoa while doing it, a sleigh ride is just the thing. Cuddle under the blanket and enjoy a moonlight ride, and when you’re done, relax around a warm fire while roasting marshmallows and chatting. Sleigh rides are generally more popular around the Christmas season, you can enjoy them at any time during the winter months. Two spots to try include Banff and Bragg Creek.
(Photo Courtesy of Ian Britton)
5 – Ice Walks
You can see a lot of wonderful things on a hike, but for a whole new experience, try ice walks. Sure you’ll see wildlife and some nice scenery, but the frozen waterfalls and other natural winter sculptures can only be seen during the colder months on one of these guided tours. Two of the most popular ice walks in the province include Banff’s Johnston Canyon and Maligne Canyon near Jasper.
6 – Winter Train Tours
Another great way to stay warm while you enjoy Alberta’s winter scenery is with a train tour from Jasper to Harvey, British Columbia and a bus ride back along the famous Yellowhead Highway. Available through Sundog Tours, it’s an unforgettable way to spend an afternoon.
7 – Ice Yachting
If you’re getting impatient waiting for the snow to melt so you can hit the open waters and go sailing, you might not have to wait. Ice sailing is becoming an increasingly popular sight on many of Alberta’s waterways. Similar to sailboat, ice yachting (also known as ice sailing or ice boating) allows you to glide effortlessly across the ice and make the most of a sunny winter day. A few places you can try this interesting activity include Ghost Lake, Chip Lake and Cooking Lake.
(Photo Courtesy of Joe Shlabotnik)
8 – Pond Hockey
Unlike children in many other countries, children here often grow up on the ice. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a flooded backyard or a local pond that has frozen over. You don’t even need a bunch of expensive equipment. Just grab some sticks, slap on some skates, and away you go. And don’t worry. If you don’t want to play, there’s always a game happening somewhere.
Hint: If you don’t have skates, and don’t want to spend a small fortune on them, stop in at the local Salvation Army, Value Village or second hand store. They almost always have cheap skates. The money goes to a good cause, and you can donate them back to the charity when you’re done.
(Photo Courtesy of ChristheGirl)
9 – Canadian Finals Rodeo
If you’re here in early November, and it’s not quite cold and snowy enough for most winter activities, schedule in a visit to the Canadian Finals Rodeo in Edmonton. Featuring the best of the best, this five-day event includes a full range of events and entertainment including bareback riding, steer wrestling, roping, saddle bronc, barrel racing, bull riding, live concerts and a ton of family events.
(Photo Courtesy of Allan Baxter.)
10 – Ice Fishing
For those of you who love to fish, ice fishing might be the best thing you do this winter. It’s fun, easy, takes only as much time as you want to spend, and best of all, the ice cold water makes the fish taste absolutely delicious. Just be sure to dress warm and pack enough supplies. Need some help? Talk to the ice fishing experts in the Calgary area including Banff and Bow River.
(Photo Courtesy of MattCatPurple.)
Those are my ten. Which Alberta winter activities would you add to your list?