You would think that with so much space, so little population, and so many months of snow, Saskatchewan would be a hotbed of unique outdoor winter activities. A quick search will tell you this isn’t so. Chances are that you’ll run into information on skiing, snowmobiling, tobogganing, sledding, and ice fishing before you see anything else.
Now, don’t get me wrong. These activities are tons of fun, but they get old, especially if you normally do these things at home. So, how about some suggestions for some fun and unique Saskatchewan winter activities? Here are my top 10:
1 – Head to the Beach For a Fun Winter Festival
Heading to the beach is a foreign idea in Saskatchewan, never mind in the dead of winter, but I promise you it’ll be a great experience that you won’t soon forget. Denare Beach Winter Festival is an annual event designed to help the whole family celebrate and enjoy the colder months.
So what makes this festival so special? How about turkey curling, animal calling, jigging competitions, boot hockey, Freezie Mountain and tons more. It runs at the end of February, in case I’ve piqued your interest. (I highly doubt they mean this kind of turkey curling, but you’ll have to attend if you’d like to see for yourself )
2 – Get a Taste of Saskatchewan Culture With Curling Lessons
Curling isn’t exactly unique. It’s played elsewhere in the world, and it’s actually quite popular in Saskatchewan. (Some would even say it’s a rite of passage since a good majority of local children take it in school.) However, to those of you who are traveling from far away, it’s likely something new to you. That’s ok. There are plenty of opportunities here to watch, get lessons, have a family game or even make a team and play against some of the locals. It really is a ton of fun.
I think every town with a population of 1 000 or more has a curling rink, but you can find out more about the sport and where you can try it on the Saskatchewan Curling Centre website.
3 – Ever Tried a Game of Sosemanuk?
A game with a history linked by to my local area of Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, Sosemanuk, or Snow Snake, was a simple but fun winter came among the local Aboriginals. Steeped in tradition, this game has entertained entire generations of locals. Essentially, competitors push a stick down a snow bank to see who can get their stick the farthest.
Perhaps the best thing about this game is its simplicity. All you need is a stick and a snow bank and there are always plenty of those around! By the time you make the track and play for a while, it becomes a fun winter afternoon and ideal if you’re staying in one of the province’s cabins. You can learn more about it on the Manataka website.
4 – New Years Ukrainian Style
Due to the promotion of free land in the Canadian west in and around the early 1900s, almost 200 000 Ukrainians homesteaded in Saskatchewan forever changing the culture and the landscape here. Today, this culture has blended with other cultures to become almost its own unique culture. Perhaps one of the best (and one of my favourite) examples of this is their New Years’ celebrations.
5 – Get Trapped at the Prince Albert Winter Festival
For two weeks every February, people come from near and far to take part in the many festivities at the Prince Albert Winter Festival. The music, live events, fireworks, bonfires, sleigh rides and chili cook offs are just a few of the activities that make this festival great, but it isn’t the only thing. Trapper events, the Scout Torch Parade, beard derby and Red River Jigging make these celebrations truly unique and a lot of fun. You might even meet some Saskatchewan royalty — Mr. and Mrs. Winter Festival!
(Photo Courtesy of Rincewind42)
6 – Bring Home Unique Souvenirs From Regina’s Wintergreen Fair
While farmers markets, fairs and flea markets are nothing new, Regina’s Wintergreen is definitely something different. Filled with a pleasing mix of handmade works, this market includes over 80 artisans creating everything from traditional artwork and jewelry, to modern sculptures and glass. So, if you’re traveling in Saskatchewan in mid-November, make sure you schedule this one in.
(Photo Courtesy of Victori)
7 – Dance and Sing at a Pow Wow
The Aboriginals in Saskatchewan hold Round Dances, Pow Wows and several other celebrations throughout the year. With their unique language, passionate drumming, elegant movements, stories and costumes, they are truly amazing. You can find out more about these celebrations, as well as get more event information for your trip, visit the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre website.
8 – Be Enthralled By Fiction From the Sâkêwêwak Storytellers Festival
Held in Regina, Saskatchewan in February, the Sâkêwêwak Storytellers Festival is a full mix of artistry, stories, live entertainment and performances of all kinds. And they’re not just by authors! From the moment you arrive at the three-day festival, you’ll be immersed in the art of Aboriginal elders, academics, storytellers and others.
To get the details, visit the Sâkêwêwak website.
9 – Canadian Western Agribition: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Agriculture
Regina’s Agribition is by far the biggest celebration of agriculture on the planet. Loaded full of livestock, education, rides, games, food and more, this five-day event sees thousands go through its doors every day. If you want to see what matters to Saskatchewanians and experience a real provincial party, this is the place to be in November.
(Photos Courtesy of photosbyjenn.)
10 – Sukanen Museum’s Haunted Ghost Town
The Sukanen Ship Pioneer Village & Museum, located just outside of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan is normally a fun, bright and filled with a whole day’s worth (or two) of well over 30 things for the whole family to see and do. As Halloween approaches, however, this ghost town takes on a whole new haunting feeling. You might want to leave the littlest kiddies at home for this, though.
(Photo Courtesy of annrkiszt.)