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Winter in Canada may be chilly, but it also heralds the arrival of snow and ice, paving the way for a plethora of enjoyable activities! With its doorstep access to the great outdoors and a vibrant city life, Edmonton offers a quintessential Canadian winter adventure. Here are the top six winter activities in Edmonton that you and your entire family should not miss.
Encounter Bison and Wildlife at Elk Island National Park
Spotting a bison in its natural habitat is a rare treat! Just a 35-minute drive east of Edmonton lies Elk Island National Park, a sanctuary where these majestic animals roam free. Winter is an excellent time for bison spotting, and the park is one of the few places in Canada you might experience a bison traffic jam! For over a century, Elk Island National Park has been instrumental in bison conservation, helping save them from near extinction. While the park is named for its elk, it’s also home to moose, and over 250 species of birds. Open all year, the park offers scenic drives, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. You might even catch the Northern Lights illuminating the sky.
Marvel at the Northern Lights
Edmonton is a prime spot for witnessing the Northern Lights’ mesmerizing displays. Active during the winter months, the best sightings are around midnight. While the city lights can dim their brilliance, venturing to places like Elk Island National Park enhances the experience. The Aurora Borealis’ unpredictable nature means keeping an eye on forecasts like AuroraWatch is wise. For photography enthusiasts, a tripod and a camera capable of long exposures are essential for capturing this natural wonder.
Revel in Festive Lights
Embrace the holiday spirit by exploring Edmonton’s festive lights. The Alberta Legislature Building, known for its marble pillars and stunning architecture, transforms into a winter wonderland adorned with thousands of lights. For a botanical light display, the Luminaria event at the Botanical Gardens showcases pathways lit by candles within the Kurimoto Japanese Garden. Tickets sell out quickly, so plan ahead.
Embrace Winter Sports
Canadians excel at winter sports, and Edmonton is no exception. From skiing and snowshoeing to snow tubing, there’s something for everyone. The city boasts several downhill ski hills, such as Snow Valley Ski Club and Rabbit Hill Snow Resort. For cross-country enthusiasts, Edmonton’s river valley offers 160 km of trails. The nearby Strathcona Wilderness Centre provides rentals and lessons for both classic and skate skiing. Snow tubing at Sunridge Ski Area offers exhilarating downhill fun for all ages.
As winter sets in, Edmonton transforms parks and public spaces into scenic skating rinks. For a magical experience, skate along the 3 km Victoria Park IceWay, illuminated by colorful lights. Downtown, the Edmonton City Hall rink offers urban skating, while Hawrelak Park provides skate rentals and warming facilities.
Explore West Edmonton Mall
For indoor fun, West Edmonton Mall, once the world’s largest, remains North America’s biggest mall. It’s a haven for retail therapy, dining, and entertainment, including the World Waterpark and Galaxyland amusement park. Marine Life showcases sea lions and turtles, while the Ice Palace invites you back into the winter spirit with indoor skating.
Edmonton’s winter landscape offers both outdoor adventures and cozy indoor activities, ensuring a memorable experience for families and visitors of all ages.