fun winter activities

10 fun winter activities to experience in Canada this season

The best way to face winter in Canada is probably to just get out there and enjoy it as much as we can — we may as well have a bit of fun while we're stuck complaining about the cold, right?

Here are some fun activities to take up during the long winter months in Canada.

Ice climbing

For real thrillseekers, one steep limestone river canyon near Jasper, Alberta offers the perfect environment for ice climbing. Armed with ropes, ice axes and picks, and a gut full of confidence, visitors can attempt to ascend different parts of the frozen, narrow, 50 m tall Maligne Canyon.

Northern Lights viewing

The Northwest Territories are the best place in Canada to view the Aurora Borealis due to their location near the Aurora Oval. A lot of resorts in the area — like Blachford Lake Lodge and Wilderness Resort near Yellowknife — rely on the lights' draw, offering guests exclusive adventures and packages to experience the once-in-a-lifetime sight.

Snowshoeing

This is arguably the safest and easiest activity on this list, suitable for all skill levels and in most places in the country. Strap on a pair of snowshoes — whether old school and wooden or modern and metal — and grab a pair of poles for a beautiful winter stroll through somewhere like Alberta's Chester Lake.

Snowmobiling

If you love things like ATVing and mountain biking through the forest, you'll love the winter equivalent: snowmobiling. If you don't happen to have a vehicle on-hand, you can always rent one and even book a guided ride with a group like the Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve in Ontario.

The Haliburton Forest has the world's only privately-owned snowmobile operation, and offers up 300 km of snowmobiling trails that are groomed daily.

Snowmobilers in Ontario must be over 12 years old with a valid driver's license or motorized snow vehicle operator's license, and have to be riding an insured vehicle registered with the Ministry of Transportation.

Bobsleighing

If you've ever wanted to feel like a winter Olympic athlete, you can do so at the WinSport Institute at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, Alberta. Race down the 1500 m ice track at speeds of over 100 km/h in probably the only bobsleigh ride you'll ever get to experience in your life. An added bonus is that the park has summer bobsleighing, too!

Snow sculpture building (or at least, watching)

There is a full-on snow sculpture competition that happens every year as part of Banff and Lake Louise, Alberta's SnowDays festival, which runs this season from January 15 to January 26.

Though teams have to formally register for the event, visitors can at least watch their progress and take in the professionals' finished products — and maybe build a little unofficial sculpture of their own on the sidelines.

Snow tubing

If you don't have the skills for skiing or snowboarding, but still want to take part in some downhill winter fun, look no further than the tubing runs at ski resorts across the country.

Glissades des Pays d'en Haut in Quebec, Coca-Cola Tube Park in B.C. and the Thunder Tube run at Horseshoe Valley are standout options, with the latter boasting the longest snow tubing hill in Ontario at nearly 800 m.

Ice fishing

When Canada's hundreds of freshwater lakes freeze over, the season for avid fishers doesn't have to end. Ice fishing, which has been practiced in Canada for generations, can be a bonding experience for fishers who spend time together in the close quarters of heated huts, circled around a hole in the ice.

The country's lakes are known for rainbow trout, whitefish, northern pike pickerel, yellow perch, and more. Head out on an ice fishing expedition like the ones organized by Wapiti Sports in Canmore, Alberta for a unique winter experience.

Skating

Since Canada is home to what prides itself as the world's oldest and largest figure skating organization, it's no wonder skating is such a prominent national pastime. (It helps that everything here is frozen for most of the year, too.)

There's no place to skate in Canada quite like the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, which offers up 7.8 km of scenic rink that winds through the city's downtown and features tons of festive vendors along its edges.

Skiing and Snowboarding

The mountains of Canada's west coast are absolutely jaw-dropping, and the best way to view them is from the top, of course. And why not ski or snowboard and take in the panoramic views on your way down, while you're at it?

B.C.'s Whistler-Blackcomb is the largest ski resort in North America and boasts features like its new Peak 2 Peak Gondola, which connects the two separate mountains and their combined 33 square kilometres of skiable terrain.

If downhill's not your thing, try cross-country skiing on virtually any of Canada's flatter hiking trails.

Lead photo by

Pamela Saunders


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