ice hotel canada

These are the most epic experiences you can have with ice in Canada

While the instinct of many Canadians may be to hibernate during the winter months, there is another, more fun tactic for addressing the season: actually embracing it in all its icy glory.

Head to one of these novelty ice-centered establishments or events to take full advantage of the country's cold weather.

Hôtel de glace, Quebec City

As the only ice hotel in North America, Hotel de Glace certainly has a reputation to live up to. Inspired by the famed ice hotels of Scandinavia, the hotel is sculpted anew each winter once the temperature drops below zero. It features more than 50 unique themed rooms, as well as a bar, spa and chapel that serves as a popular wedding venue.

SnowDays, Banff

Toast to the winter with cocktails, ice sculptures, skating and more at this 1.5-week long festival celebrating Canada's mountain culture at the beginning of the year. Events will be taking place across Banff and Lake Louise, and include a winter wonderland of ice bars, castles and more next to the picturesque, mountain-flanked Lake Louise.

Frostival, Fredericton

Ice sculptures, concerts, theatrical performances, and more than 100 other events abound at this outdoor winter carnival, the largest in Maritime Canada. Get in on the fun and hit up multiple locations in Fredericton starting in January.

Ice on Whyte, Edmonton

This international ice carving competition is as hardcore as it gets, with sculpture artists from around the world — and quite the audience, too — flocking to the Alberta city each year. Enjoy hot food, drinks, DJs, outdoor winter games, and even learn how to carve ice yourself.

Winterlude, Ottawa

Skating on the Rideau Canal in the nation's capital is one of the most quintessential Canadian activities there is. Skate the 8 km route before exploring the city's specialty snow playground and ice sculptures, grabbing some hot chocolate and posing on an ice throne at Ottawa and Gatineau's Winterlude festivals.

Ice Castles, Edmonton

This one-acre feature in Edmonton's Hawrelak Park is one of six castles across North America that are assembled by hand from hundreds of thousands of individual icicles. The fun includes ice slides, sculptures, a waterfall and LED light installations.

Blachford Lake Lodge, Yellowknife

Hang out in an outdoor igloo you built yourself at this remote hideaway in the Northwest Territories, which happens to be one of the best places in the world to view the Northern Lights.

Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous, Whitehorse

This uniquely-named festival is a part of the long-running Yukon Carnival Week, and celebrates winter sports and other bizarre activities you can do in the Canadian north, such as snow carving, skiing and snowshoeing, dog team racing, axe tossing, dancing, and even hair freezing.

Bearfoot Bistro, Whistler

Fine dining is not all this swanky B.C. restaurant has to offer — it also has a hidden ice room by Ketel One. Expand your booze knowledge and sip on one of 50 types of sub-zero vodka at - 32 C (and don't worry, the parkas are provided).

Carnaval de Quebec, Quebec City

The Quebec Winter Carnival and its mascot, the red-capped dancing Bonhomme, are an integral part of Canadian iconography. Sled down an ice track, eat and drink, watch the opening or closing ceremonies and take part in countless other wintry events at this mid-February fest, which has been happening in some iteration since 1894!

Great Ice Show, Winnipeg

Ice bars, ice chairs, bumper cars on ice, an ice replica of the Manitoba Legislative Building — at this event, nearly everything is made of ice. Enjoy an icy cocktail, take in some ice sculptures, or come after dark for an awe-inspiring rainbow light show.

Festival du Voyageur, Winnipeg

There aren't many other places you'll find a beard-growing competition, dog-sledding, or maple taffy making aside from Winnipeg's Festival du Voyageur, which also features musical performances, a ton of French-Canadian food and more over a number of days in mid-February.

Lead photo by

Hotel De Glace


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