Reason #58 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

Winter Activities

By Emil Tiedemann

Let’s face it, we’re a winter city, plain and simple. Sure, we’ve got distinctive and glorious springs and summers and autumns, but winter just seems to last the longest, and it can get pretty nasty at times. 

But, that’s okay, because Edmontonians - unlike many other Canadians - have learned to embrace and even appreciate our snowy season.

The Ice Castle in Hawrelak Park.

Every city in Canada deals with winter conditions, there’s just no way around it (unless global warming kicks in sooner than we anticipate), so you might as well use it to your advantage, right?! 

Edmonton is surrounded by some of the best places in the world for skiers and snowboarders (Banff, Jasper), but you don’t even have to leave town to get in on the slopes, because there are several options right at our doorsteps! 

Between the months of November and March, locals are able to take to the hills of the Edmonton Ski Club, the Snow Valley Ski Club, the Rabbit Hill Snow Resort, and the Sunridge Ski Area, all within the Capital Region. 

As for cross-country skiing enthusiasts, Edmonton offers more than 160 kms of trails to trek, and is home to the annual Canadian Birkebeiner Ski Festival, which challenges hardcores to embark on its 55-km route. 

If skiing’s not your thing, but you’re down for the outdoors, then you might want to try ice skating, sledding, snowshoeing, tobogganing, skijoring, snowmobiling, ice fishing, kicksledding, dogsledding, or even winter camping! Edmonton is well-equipped for all of these activities, and then some. 

A winter scene at Fort Edmonton Park.

If you’re looking for something, then you can check out the man-made skating pond at Hawrelak Park, catch a sleigh ride at Fort Edmonton, glide down the IceWay Skating Trail in Victoria Park, take a guided Segway tour of the river valley, or - if you’re lucky - witness the Northern Lights dancing in the night skies, while sipping out of a thermos of hot chocolate; or a flask of whiskey, I do not judge! 

And then there are the winter festivals, celebrating our northern climate through mostly family-oriented events and exhibitions like the ice sculptures of Ice on Whyte, an outdoor stage performance during The Flying Canoe Adventure, or just some old-fashioned ice skating with the kids at the Silver Skate Festival

Another unique annual event is Deep Freeze: A Byzantine Winter Festival, held over a single weekend in January along Alberta Avenue, and offering up all kinds of winter games and activities with a Russian/ Ukrainian twist. 

Toss in all the Christmas hoopla and ongoing indoor attractions, and you might come to realize that we’ve actually got it pretty good way up here, where winter is just a way of life...until the snow melts, and then it’s good riddance! #yegwinter



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