When winter arrives in fall and doesn’t leave in spring, you need to embrace it. I’ve seen snow on the ground in every month of the year but July since I moved to Calgary. #WeAreWinter is the anthem of Canada’s Winter Olympics team and, frankly, it’s an understatement.
If you’re afraid of getting a little cold or a little wet, you won’t have much to do in this place. So bundle up, set your sights for some snow, and get ready to explore these awesome winter things to do for Calgary families.
From snowshoeing to fat biking to skiing, tubing, and skating, there’s so much to do in this province, if you learn to open your arms and give winter a big warm hug. Check it out!
FIND FROZEN WATERFALLS
You’ll need some micro spikes and hiking poles for the hike up Johnston Canyon, but this popular spot just north of Banff is the top of my ‘to do list’ for this year. Not only is the canyon frozen, allowing you to walk up the frozen floor, but ice climbers dot the canyon making this hike extra interesting.
If you’ve got snowshoes, Jura Creek Canyon makes a good substitute just outside Canmore, and if you have no winter hiking gear, try out Troll Falls in Kananaskis Country for a short hike to an impressive frozen waterfall.
Easily the best toboggan hill in all of Calgary, St Andrews Heights offers you a very long, wide hill for tobogganing. Scroll ahead to 2:30 in the video above to see a couple of old guys tackle the course.
Just remember, whatever goes up has to come back down. The hill is so great that some parents bring their very young kids here to learn skiing or snowboarding. Again, no chairlift to get back up, so be prepared to hike it up!
OUTDOOR ICE SKATING
The most beautiful skating rink in the world is at Lake Louise. If you go in late January, you’ll find The Ice Magic Festival in full swing. Ice artists from around the world come to carve cubes with chainsaws while the Ice Queen holds court in her frozen castle on the lake.
If the crowds are too much for you there, you could also go skating at Vermillion Lakes in Banff, and the pond behind the Banff Springs Hotel is a great place to lace up and warm up around a fire.
Put this one near the top of my Alberta winter bucket list too. There are so many wonderful places to explore in Kananaskis and the back country of Banff National Park. Hooking up your supplies to a sled with a team of dogs pulling you across a frozen lake sounds just .. wow. You can find dogsledding tours throughout Alberta.
TAKE IT TUBULAR
If you’re not much for skiing or snowboarding, just pop your bottom in a tube and get ready to speed down the slopes. Mount Norquay (where speeds can hit 50km/h!) and new this year, for those who don’t want to leave the city, Winsport Canada Olympic Park has a tube park too!
THE ALBERTA PARKS CANMORE NORDIC CENTRE
The Nordic Centre Provincial Park in Canmore is a great place to do it all. You can rent some fat tire bikes to hit the trails, try your hand on the same tracks Canada’s X-Country Olympic team trains on, watch some biathletes, or even go for a quick snowshoe.
SKI ALL OVER
Our family just got back into skiing in the past two years and .. we love it. Nakiska is very popular with families looking for a deal on an annual pass. We also like Norquay, Sunshine, and COP is easy for learning while staying in the city.
WANDER AN ICE CASTLE
If you’re up for a road trip, make it a weekend and go to Edmonton to check out their amazing Ice Castle! Set up in Hawrelak Park this display features millions of icicles that sparkle a glacial blue by day and glow multi-colored at night with the help of thousands of LED lights embedded in the ice.
A good time to check it out would be in mid February during the Silver Skate Festival when the entire city is up to celebrate the snow. While you’re at it, make sure you pack the swimsuits to visit the amazing waterpark at West Edmonton Mall. A day here can make all the winter instantly melt away, I promise.