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Fun things to do in Edmonton this winter

Click to play video: 'Our Winter City: Climb a ice wall in Edmonton’s river valley'
Our Winter City: Climb a ice wall in Edmonton’s river valley
WATCH: Looking to embrace winter and test your nerve? The Ice Wall is back. Weather specialist Phil Darlington geared up to climb the Alpine Club of Canada Edmonton wall, which is back for another year at the Edmonton Ski Club. – Jan 29, 2022

Sure, it’s colder and snowier out, but that doesn’t mean Edmontonians hibernate until spring.

Being a winter city, there is a slew of winter activities to enjoy over the next several months.

Whether you like being active outdoors or prefer heated patios and toasty beverages, there is something on the list to tickle your fancy.

For the outdoor enthusiast

Ice skating: 

If ice skating is your style, there are several outdoor rinks and iceways in the river valley:

  • Victoria Oval and IceWay
  • Hawrelak Park shelter #2 ice
  • Rundle Park IceWay

City-operated ice surfaces are maintained and monitored on a daily basis. Ice surfaces will be closed if conditions are unsafe for users. Please keep off closed ice surfaces and obey all posted signage.

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There are also ice rinks at:

  • Castle Downs
  • City Hall
  • Jackie Parker
  • Meadows Outdoor Leisure Ice

Downtown’s newest skating rink is the ICE District plaza. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Starting on Friday, Dec. 9, the City Hall ice skating rink will be open (weather and ice conditions permitting). Free skate rentals will be available each Friday from 4 to 9 p.m., and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Read more: New Freezeway skating path opens at Edmonton park

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Tobogganing hills!

There are several city-managed toboggan hills in Edmonton. The city has an online list and map where you can check the current conditions before bundling up and heading off to one of these hills:

  • Emily Murphy Park (11624 Saskatchewan Drive NW)
  • Gallagher Park (9505 96 Avenue NW)
  • Government House Park (9938 Groat Road NW)
  • Queen Elizabeth Park (10380 Queen Elizabeth Park Road)
  • Rundle Park – ACT Hill (2903 113 Avenue)
  • Rundle Park – Walton’s Mountain (2903 113 Avenue)
  • Whitemud Park North (13204 Fox Drive NW)

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Cross-country ski trails:

There are many cross-country ski trails in Edmonton’s river valley that are open to everyone! They’re regularly groomed and vary in skill level. Before you adventure out, check the trail options and conditions online.

  • Argyll Park/Mill Creek
  • Capilano Park
  • Goldstick Park
  • Gold Bar Park
  • Kinsmen Park
  • Riverside Golf Course
  • Sir Wilfred Laurier Park
  • Victoria Golf Course and Park
  • William Hawrelak Park

Play Rangers and Outdoor Adventure Programs:

These are free weekly outdoor recreational activities focused on children and family participation.

Play Rangers focuses on children and family participation, with planned special outdoor recreational activities. Children six to 12 years old can attend on their own. Leaders facilitate fun activities but parents and caregivers are responsible for their children at all times and must be available in the event of an emergency.

Outdoor Adventure Programs are outdoor programs offered to community groups, Edmonton and area schools, corporations and the general public.

Click to play video: 'How Luminaria lighting design comes to life'
How Luminaria lighting design comes to life

For festive lights and love

University of Alberta Botanic Gardens Luminaria:

Located five kilometres north of Devon on Highway 60 in Parkland County, the U of A Botanic Gardens offers outdoor beauty year-round.

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Luminaria: A Winter Garden Story is an evening festival that runs Nov. 23 to Dec. 23, Wednesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and nightly from Dec. 26 to 31. It’s a charming new winter experience inspired by the atmosphere of alpine holiday markets, where guests of all ages can explore the tastes, sights and sounds.

There’s a chalet, village square, winter train and several botanical gardens and lights.

Tickets must be booked in advance and range in price from $17 to $24 but children under 12 are free.

Candy Cane Lane: 

The annual and much-loved celebration of holiday lights runs Dec. 9 to Jan. 2, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. nightly.

It takes place along 148 Street from 92 Avenue to 100 Avenue.

During Open Streets Nights (Dec. 10, 17, 23), Candy Cane Lane will be closed to traffic and only accessible by foot.

Sleigh rides, fire pits and food trucks will be available Dec. 9 – 11, 16 – 18, and 21 – 23.

The event is free but organizers request visitors bring a donation (non-perishable food items) for Edmonton’s Food Bank. Green bins are all along the lane for donation drop off.

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Holiday Light Up:

As part of downtown Edmonton’s festive cheer, the Holiday Light Up incorporates bright lights, art installations and great music.

Edmontonians can grab a cup of coffee or hot chocolate while strolling along Rice Howard Way.

Bright Light Skate Night:

On Friday, Dec. 16, bundle up and head to Sir Winston Churchill Square and the City Hall Plaza from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. for Bright Light Skate Night.

It’s a free family-friendly event featuring skating, a DJ, free hot chocolate, a fire pit and roving performers.

There are also temporary art installations by Canadian artist Ken Hacke and Edmonton lantern creator Dylan Toymaker.

For Thrill Seekers

FIS Big Air World Cup:

SHREDmonton will host Canada’s first and largest stadium FIS Big Air World Cup on Saturday, Dec. 10 as part of The Style Experience.

The event will feature the best snowboarders from across the globe, launching massive tricks from the very top of Commonwealth Stadium.

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Tickets start at about $30.

Click to play video: 'Big air: Edmonton hosting biggest snowboard event in Canada'
Big air: Edmonton hosting biggest snowboard event in Canada

Snowshoe and Stargaze: 

Just outside city limits, you can find Elk Island National Park, home of the Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve.

This recurring event offers a short guided snowshoe hike around Astotin Lake as stars twinkle above you. Then, with a park interpreter as your guide, you can enjoy a campfire and gaze up into the star-filled sky, learning how to navigate the night sky without the glow of city lights.

The tour takes place 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Dec. 10, 17, 22, 29 and Jan. 7, 14, 21, 28, Feb. 4, 11, 18.

Until the end of 2022, tickets are about $30 per person plus a valid Parks Canada pass. Prices go up to about $40 in 2023. Passes include use of snowshoes and a headlamp.

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Winter SolstICE Series at ICE District:

This series of events, including a snow maze, hockey and New Year’s Eve bash, runs for 10 days, from Dec. 23 to Jan. 1.

The Oilers-themed snow maze is called Snow Way Out and is being built at the Fan Park. It has a slide, fire pits, hot chocolate and some great photo opportunities.

Skate with Santa is a fun family-friendly holiday skate complete with Santa and carolers on Dec. 23. A special Santa Tracker Skate is scheduled for Dec. 24 and Family Skate on Dec. 25.

The New Year’s Eve at ICE District starts with a tailgate and watch party at ICE District Plaza at 6 p.m. as the Oilers take on the Winnipeg Jets. After the game, the plaza will turn into a New Year’s Eve party with live bands, DJs, food, beverages, outdoor heaters and giant countdown screens.

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For the Cozy Creatives

Happy Wall:

Returning to Churchill Square on Dec. 16 is the popular Happy Wall installation. Created by Copenhagen artist Thomas Dambo, Happy Wall first made its home in the square from 2018 to 2019.

The interactive public art installation is 17 metres long and covered with 1,040 coloured panels of reclaimed wood that can be flipped to create images or phrases.

Read more: Edmonton’s outdoor winter patio scene continues to grow

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Winter patios:

You can be social and dine out in the fresh air even in the winter in Edmonton!

Winter patios are back! Support local by checking out dozens participating patios at local restaurants, cafes and bars across the city. Rocky Mountain Ice House and the Cask & Barrel even host events on their patios throughout the winter.

Name a slow plow contest:

Have you ever wanted to name a snow plow? Well, here’s your chance!

The city is running a name a plow contest. Submissions can be entered between Oct. 27 and Dec. 18.

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The winning names will be displayed on the sides of five City of Edmonton snow plows.

For Santa’s Helpers

Edmonton Christmas Market:

Make your way to Fort Edmonton Park between Nov. 30 and Dec. 18 for the Christmas Market.

It’s your destination for discovering regional brands and makers, food and culinary experiences, live entertainment and festive activities.

There are unique indoor and outdoor winter experiences, including carousel rides, culinary experiences, wagon rides, cocktail bars, theatre experiences, roving performances and more than 40 market vendors.

It runs Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 9 p.m.

Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for youth, and kids five and under are free. Book online to secure a spot.

Downtown Gift Card:

The new Downtown Gift Card is a great way to shop local this holiday season and support over 40 participating businesses.

Downtown Farmers Market’s Christmas Market:

You can also shop local at the Downtown Farmers Market’s Christmas Market every weekend until Dec. 23. Find the perfect gift with over 20 additional vendors.

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Click to play video: 'Edmonton’s Ice District celebrates official grand opening'
Edmonton’s Ice District celebrates official grand opening

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