Embrace Winter in Calgary: Discover the Ultimate Winter Wonderland and Outdoor Activities (2024)
Welcome to Calgary, the ultimate Winter Wonderland. The cold and snowy winter season transforms Calgary into a magical wonderland. As snow covers the landscapes in and around the city, it gives way to exhilarating adventures. This vibrant city is nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, offering a winter experience like no other. The snow season is a highly anticipated time of the year for residents and visitors alike in Calgary. The city transforms into a picturesque and magical place with blankets of snow.
Calgary’s snow season offers a wide range of activities and opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. The nearby world-class resorts in the Rocky Mountains offer exceptional adrenaline-pumping adventure opportunities. Be it skiing down the hill, skating across a frozen lake, or gliding around ice rinks; the options are truly many. In addition, locals and tourists can also immerse themselves in the magical ambiance of the annual Winter events and festivals. The cozy hot cocoa, ice sculptures, and dazzling light elevate the experience every single year. So are you ready to embrace the Winter fun opportunities in Calgary?
Embrace Winter in Calgary: Discover the Ultimate Winter Wonderland and Outdoor Activities
Read on our list of Popular Things to do in Calgary during Winter.
1. Go For A Walk Around Eau Claire and Peace Bridge
Walking and strolling around Eau Claire and Peace Bridge is a delightful winter experience in Calgary. In fact, standing on the Peace Bridge and looking towards Eau Claire is straight out of the postcard scene. As the peacefully, partially frozen Bow River flows and reflects the winter sky, the scenario turns out extremely beautiful. The snow-covered pathways and frozen riverbanks add to the serenity of the atmosphere. As one venture towards the iconic Peace Bridge, the twinkling light illuminate the surroundings. Upon crossing the bridge, walkers are treated by breathtaking views of the river and the surrounding snowy scenery. The bridge architecture in itself, along with vibrant colors, contrasts beautifully against the winter backdrop, adding to the striking views. The Prince’s Island Park and the Eau Claire market are also right there to explore.
2. Visit WinSport
Formerly known as Calgary Olympic Park, WinSport is an excellent destination to enjoy winters in Calgary. The park was originally built for the 1988 Winter Olympics and is on the west side of the city. Presently, it operates as a winter playground for outdoor enthusiasts showcasing the sporting spirit of Calgary. WinSport features over 10 groomed lanes dedicated to snow tubing. It also allows adventure lovers to enjoy skiing and snowboarding right within the city. The experience isn’t comparable with Canadian Rockies but excellent for kids, beginners, and oldies. The towering ski jumps and slopes invite skiers for the exhilarating rush of the descent. WinSport also features bobsleigh and luge tracks for a heart-pounding experience as enthusiasts will zip down the icy course. WinSport also hosts various winter events and competitions that add an extra dose of excitement to the atmosphere.
3. Watch the Zoolight at the Calgary Zoo
When some animals hibernate, the ZooLights at the Calgary Zoo adds a winter spectacle attracting locals and tourists alike. As the evening hours starts to hit, Calgary Zoo transforms into a magical wonderland of million illuminating twinkling lights. Upon walking across the paths, visitors can capture the captivating dazzling light displays in various shapes and themes. All of these displays are mesmerizing and create a whimsical atmosphere. Both kids and adults can enjoy the festive spirit while getting an opportunity to meet Santa Claus. The area also offers chances to indulge in a tasty treat and hot chocolate. The ZooLights in Calgary isn’t just a visual spectacle but also a community custom to spread holiday cheer and joy.
4. Attend Once Upon a Christmas in Calgary’s Heritage Park
The Heritage Park in Calgary is the largest living heritage museum in Canada. It offers a multitude of experiences. However, the main historical village is closed during winter. But the good news is that the most exciting event, ‘Once Upon a Christmas,’ comes around winter, in the months of either November or December. This cherished annual tradition brings the holiday spirit to life, transforming the area into a magical wonderland reminiscent of a bygone era. The streets and structures here are adorned with festive decorations and twinkling lights.
Visitors can spot costumed characters, carolers singing joyful melodies, and even meet Santa himself. The destination also boasts four unique retail shops, an old-fashioned soda shop, the Railway Cafe, and the Selkirk, a full-service restaurant and the nostalgic scent of fresh-baked goods. Or shop for traditional crafts and festive-themed goods.
5. Enjoy the Enchanting Winter Views from the Calgary Tower
The iconic Calgary Tower stands approximately 191 meters tall and is Calgary’s most popular tourist attraction. Though it is a year-round attraction, the experience during winter is top-notch. As one ascends to the observation deck, the panoramic vistas of snow-covered landscape greet. In addition, the twinkling Calgary skyline standing in contrast to the white canvas below adds glory to the sight. The partially frozen Bow River, too, adds to the beauty. Visitors can also choose to walk on the glass floor for that thrill. Tourists often choose to visit this place for spectacular views and photography opportunities. Visitors also enjoy fine dining at Sky 360 restaurant.
6. Explore the Christmas Markets in Calgary
Spending time at different Christmas Markets is the best way to enjoy winters in Calgary. This city in Alberta is known for its vibrant and festive Christmas markets, allowing opportunities to soak up the holiday spirit and discover unique gifts and treats. These markets allow visitors to buy handcrafts, homemade food, and unique souvenirs. Some of the popular Christmas
Markets in Calgary include:
Calgary Christmas Market: It is the biggest and most happening Christmas market in Calgary. It organizes at Calgary’s Farmers Market, featuring local vendors selling artisan crafts, holiday treats, and seasonal goods.
International Christmas Market: It organizes at Spruce Meadows gathering more than 300 vendors from around the world. The market is popular for its craft and culinary delight.
Millarville Christmas Market: It is known for gathering more than 250 vendors who transform the place into a popular destination for holiday shopping. Visitors can shop for everything from handmade crafts, jewelry, food items, and more.
Noel Indoor Light Park and Christmas Market: This dazzling setup is known for its family-friendly seasonal Christmas festivities. It offers a dazzling light park with a Christmas market. The illuminated displays, live entertainment, and vendors selling holiday goods add to creating a magical atmosphere.
Scandinavian Christmas Market: It organizes at Scandinavian Centre to celebrate the Scandinavian traditions in Calgary. The market features unique crafts, Scandinavian food, music, and entertainment all in one place.
7. Ride the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train
Riding the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train is an excellent way to embrace the winters in Calgary. This festive tradition is over an idea of raising awareness and donations for local food banks across Canada and the United States. Adorned with thousands of colorful lights and live music, the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train makes several stops in Calgary and in its nearby areas.
Though the stops may change from year to year, some of the popular constants amongst them include:
- CP Ogden Yard in the Ogden neighborhood of Calgary.
- Anderson CTrain Station is a frequent stop for the Holiday Train in Calgary.
- In the nearby Airdrie City, just north of Calgary.
- The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train arrives in Calgary in the month of December and is a delightful spectacle to watch.
8. Drive to Chestermere Lake for Ice-Skating
Located just east of Calgary, Chestermere Lake is popular for Ice-Skating. This popular winter destination is 4.8 km long and is one of the most bewitching lake areas near Calgary.
Activities like water skiing, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, and sailboating attract the crowd during summer. During winters, snowmobiling, ice fishing, and ice skating take the charm. The vast expanse of frozen surface offer ample skating space to enthusiasts. The lake features various access points with scenic views and a serene atmosphere. However, it is important to note that since the ice conditions can vary be cautious and ensure that the ice is thick and safe for skating. Avoid taking risks if you are visiting alone.
9. Go Ice Fishing at Ghost Reservoir
A less than an hour’s drive takes ice-fishing enthusiasts to Calgary’s Ghost Reservoir. This activity is truly rewarding, especially for individuals who are into traditional fishing. Located towards the west of Calgary, Ghost Reservoir offers ice fishing opportunities, typically from December or sometimes even late, concerning the weather conditions and the thickness of the ice. Ghost Reservoir is known for its collection of trout, including rainbow trout and brown trout. Although before fishing here, visitors must learn about the local fishing regulations or if there are any specific rules and restrictions. Check out the Alberta Fishing Regulations for fishing seasons, catch limits, and more. Also, for safety, check the thickness and quality of the ice before starting out.
10. Attend a Winter Event or Festival in Calgary
Calgary is a sunny winter city that opens up opportunities to step outside and enjoy the events and festivities. The city hosts several exciting winter festivals celebrating the season and attracting enthusiasts from different parts of the nation. Here are some popular Calgary Winter festivals to check out:
High-Performance Rodeo: Although it isn’t dedicated to a winter festival High-Performance Rodeo’s a renowned arts festival that takes place in January. It is known for exhibiting theatre, music, dance, and other diverse performances.
Big Winter Classic: It is a multi-venue music and arts festival in Calgary. The event gathers musicians, artists, and performers for a weekend of live music, art installations, and food affair.
Ice Magic Festival: The event organizes in Banff, a little outside Calgary but is by far the best. The world-class ice carving competitions, ice sculptures, and interactive activities here captivate visitors for a long.
11. Explore the Skiing Opportunities In and Around Calgary
If you are celebrating the winters of Canada, you cannot overlook the Skiing opportunities around Calgary. Though Calgary doesn’t boast any major Skiing areas, there are a lot of them nearby. These destinations make for an excellent day trip from Calgary or also for a Calgary weekend getaway. Here are some fine places to visit for Skiing around Calgary:
Nakiska Ski Area: It is located in Kananaskis Country, nearly an hour west of Calgary. This family-friendly resort hosts well-groomed slopes and stunning mountain views, along with a tube park.
Lake Louise Ski Resort: It is approximately 2 hours west of Calgary, in the Banff National Park. It is, in fact, one of the largest and most scenic ski resorts and summer sightseeing destinations in the entire North America. The vast terrain, stunning alpine scenery, and challenging runs here attract Skiers from Canada and all across America.