Google+ Three winter hot spots in Western Canada | Travel & Happiness I by Jenn Smith Nelson

Three winter hot spots in Western Canada

Not headed on a hot holiday this year? Consider discovering a few of the wonderful winter offerings found in Western Canadian cities. While this list isn’t inclusive of all the other cities that have fabulous winter offerings (i.e. Saskatoon, Regina, Calgary, Victoria, etc.), it does feature three solid options for cities that really do winter well!

Winter in WINNIPEG

Now, I know what you are thinking. Winterpeg? Really? Yes. Really. Have you ever thought that maybe the city has earned this name for a reason?

Winnipeg is perhaps one of the most underated cities in Canada to begin with, but if you take anything from this post, it should be this: Winnipeg and Winnipegers know how to embrace winter. In fact, I think that other cities could really learn a thing or two from the city’s approach. And really, if Winnipeg can do it with its notoriously frigid temps, any city can!

Thermëa by Nordik Spa-Nature. Image courtesy of Tourism Winnipeg.

Here are a few ways to get started this year if you visit:

HEAD to The FORKS first

The Forks National Historic Site isn’t just a summer hot spot. Head there in the winter to:

  • Check out the interactive ice castles – This is the first time the castles have come to the city. One-acre, 10-foot-thick ice walls and thousands of icicles help make this installation both fun and awe-inspiring.

Image courtesy of Tourism Winnipeg.

  • Skate along the Red River Mutual Trail – It’s one of the world’s longest skating trails!
  • Dine on a frozen river at RAW: Almond – This outside pop-up restaurant, (running January 19 to February 14) is situated on the frozen Assiniboine River. Enjoy incredible gourmet meals delivered family-style, prepared by local and invited guest chefs.

Image courtesy of Tourism Winnipeg.

For adventure, followed by relaxation

Ten Spa. Image courtesy of Tourism Winnipeg.

  • Zen out at Ten Spa with steamy hammam treatments (my personal favourite!) or unwind in saunas and hot pools at Thermëa by Nordik Spa-Nature.

Celebrate community spirit

  • Festival du Voyageur – Celebrate Canada’s fur trade history through the culture, art, food, music and dance of Métis and Franco-Manitoban adventurers, at Western Canada’s largest outdoor winter celebration.
  • Fire & Ice Yoga Festival – Try “snow-vasana” by practicing yoga on a frozen lake. Yoga, bonfires and community collide on February 3 at FortWhyte Alive.

Find more information on Winnipeg’s winter offerings here.

Winter in EDMONTON

Consider the fine city of Edmonton, especially if you are a festival-goer! This city specializes in bringing the party to the streets, especially during the winter months. From family friendly festivals to adrenaline inducing events, there’s something for everyone.

Festivals, festivals and more festivals

  • Ice on Whyte Festival – This week long party brings in 96,000 pounds of ice and features an international Ice Carving Competition, ice bar, and the opportunity to learn how to carve ice (January 25-28 and February 1-4).

Image courtesy of Tourism Edmonton

  • Flying Canoe Volant Festival – A creative, interactive, and cultural event celebrating local history that is loosely based on the legend of the Flying Canoe, and on French-Canadian, First Nation, and Métis traditions. Enjoy a nighttime adventure in Edmonton’s French Quarter and along the illuminated trails of the Mill Creek Ravine that features: artistic lighting installations; Métis jigs/reels, bannock making, storytelling, drumming, and conversation; and horse-drawn carriages. (February 2-3)
  • Silver Skate Festival – A true extravaganza of art, culture, recreation and sport! Edmonton’s oldest (28th) winter festival returns (free) and features a sculpture garden; the Kortebaan–a traditional Dutch long-blade skate race; artists and live music performances; fire sculpture and storytelling. (February 9-19)
  • Red Bull Crashed Ice – Described as “Ice Cross Downhill,” this is one intense winter sporting event! Watch skaters descend a steep ice track filled with bumps, jumps, rollers and obstacles maxing out at speeds of up to 80km/hr!

Image courtesy of Tourism Edmonton. Mikka Jouhkinmainen of Finland catches air during the Red Bull Crashed Ice, the Ice Cross Downhill World Championship 2013, in Niagara Falls, Canada on December 1st, 2012.

For more winter fun, visit Elk Island National Park where you can snowshoe and stargaze with a short-guided hike around the shore of Astotin Lake, or with a park interpreter as your guide, navigate the sky of the Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve.

Find more information on Edmonton’s winter offerings here.



If you are seeking a more cosmopolitan getaway (perhaps for two) that allows you take in the beauty of winter, head to Vancouver and you’ll find a great diversity of seasonally inspired fun.

Image courtesy of Tourism Vancouver

  • First stop; plan a stay at one of the two new incredible hotels at urban resort Parq Vancouver – an entertainment destination: The JW Marriot and The Douglas. Located in the heart of downtown complete with incredible views of city, ocean and mountains.
  • Bring your stretchy pants for the 16th Annual Dine Out Vancouver Festival where you can choose from more than 35 unique culinary events, prix-fix menus at 300+ restaurants, as well as special hotel and Air Canada flight discounts (‪January 19‬ and ‪February 4‬).

Courtesy of Tourism Vancouver

Festival Canyon Lights – Walk along the illuminated Capilano suspension bridge and take in the Treetops Adventure, Cliffwalk, the rainforest and canyon. All of which are transformed into a world of festive lights and visual enchantment. Don’t miss the world’s largest living Christmas Tree.

Image courtesy of Tourism Vancouver

  • Grouse Mountain – Head up the mountain to enjoy the Peak of Christmas or to take in the views while skating or skiing.

Image courtesy of Tourism Vancouver

Find more information on Vancouver’s winter offerings here.

I’d love to hear from you!

What Canadian city do you think winter best?

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