With its short days and cold nights, winter can be a time where many people want to just bundle up and Netflix the chilly months away. But if you’re looking to shake off the winter blues and get out and enjoy some really fun activities, then I bet you’ll be surprised to see just how much there is to do in Edmonton this winter. Like Quebec City, I find that Edmonton has decided over the past couple of years to say, “You know what, winter? We got this.” and really have fun with it!
So if you’re in the area, or you’re looking for a weekend adventure, here’s some things to see and do in Edmonton this winter!
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to live in the ice castle in Frozen (seriously, did it have bathrooms?), Edmonton’s Ice Castle is as close as you’ll likely get! Last year, the castle had to close early because of the warm weather, but thanks to an extra chilly start to winter, I’m thinking the castle might be open until at least July this year. Tickets range from $9.95 to $20, depending on day, time and age, but once you’re inside, you can stay as long as you’d like. When I went, I was by myself and still ended up staying quite a while. I went around 4pm, so I could see the castle in daylight, then stuck around for the early sunset to see the castle light up, which is when it really comes alive. Be sure to check out the bonfire to warm up, which you’ll need to do after going down the ice slide a few times. Yes, it’s technically for kids, but as if that should stop you. It definitely didn’t stop me. Make sure you bring your camera, you’ll be able to grab some great photos too!
I went on my first segway tour a few years ago, and it was really fun. The zippy little machines get teased a lot, but I really don’t know why. Anyone can learn to use them, there’s basically no physical strain and it gets you to where you want to go quickly. So when I saw that there was a winter segway tour of Edmonton’s amazing river valley, I knew it would be a blast. The segway works basically the same in the winter because it’s equipped with winter tires, which makes going up and down the pathways a lot easier to navigate. There’s some spots you have to slow down, but what a rush to explore the snow packed river valley from the ease of a segway. The tour is great, offering lots of insights on the city and its history. This is definitely an adventure you’d be talking about for years to come. I hope this winter is something they offer in Calgary someday soon.
It’s like a highway, but ice. Okay, that’s like most highways in Alberta, but the ice way is definitely more fun than driving in the winter. The IceWay features a 3-loop skating trail that tours you around the colourfully lit forests of Edmonton’s Victoria Park. It was originally called the Freezeway, and reminds me a bit of Winnipeg’s, where some people can basically skate to work. Now that’s what I call Canadian. If you need a winter night out to heat things up, I can’t think of a better date idea. Not to mention, it’s free!
Winter festivals galore!
Edmonton also features a slew, that’s right a slew, of winter festivals, sure to help you forget all about the cold weather. Okay, well, maybe it’ll help you forget about it temporarily.
Deep Freeze Festival
118 Avenue NW & 91 Street
January 14th and January 15th, 2017
Alberta’s rich history is celebrated at this two-day festival, where The Ukrainian, Franco-Albertan, Franco-African, First Nations and South American communities come together to celebrate their diverse cultures. and revel in the magic and beauty of winter.
Families will have the chance to enjoy authentic cultural and heritage winter games and fun, like Old Tyme curling. There’s also more traditional winter activities like snow wagon rides, ice-skating, winter mini golf, street hockey, ice sculptures, a giant ice slide, log cutting competition and the famous deep freezer race.
Ice on Whyte Festival
January 26-29 and February 2-5, 2017
Photo via Explore Edmonton
Features an international ice carving competition, a gigantic ice slide, ice carving lessons.
Silver Skate Festival
February 10th to 20th
Photo via Explore Edmonton
A winter-inspired extravaganza of art, culture, recreation and sport! The free event features a snow sculpture garden, Jam-Can Curling, a Dutch long-blade skate races, and something called a fire sculpture. I mean, that alone is worth it!
The Flying Canoe Volant
Mill Creek Ravine and La Cité francophone
February 3rd and February 4th, 2017
Since the sun sets so early, might as well make the most of it, right? The Flying Canoe Volant is a nighttime adventure in Edmonton’s French Quarter and along the illuminated trails of the Mill Creek Ravine. The two-day event is packed with artistic lighting installations, Métis jigs/reels, bannock making, storytelling, drumming, horse-drawn carriage rides, bilingual musical performances, a winter patio, outdoor DJ and a snow slide.