When winter wraps Calgary in its frosty embrace, the city transforms into a winter wonderland full of unique activities and experiences. Calgary’s winter is not just about hibernation; it’s a season of fun-filled adventures, picturesque landscapes, and warm indoor retreats. Here are some unique things to do in Calgary during the winter months, whether you’re a local or a visitor.
Unique Things to Do in Calgary During Winter
Ice Magic Festival at Lake Louise
One of the most enchanting events held during winter in Calgary is the Ice Magic Festival at Lake Louise. This event showcases talented ice artists from around the world who come together to create stunning ice sculptures. The glittering masterpieces, set against the backdrop of snow-covered mountains and a frozen lake, make for a truly magical sight.
Snowshoeing in the Moonlight
Venture into the snow-clad trails of Calgary’s parks for a moonlight snowshoeing adventure. The city and its surroundings offer numerous trails suitable for this activity. As you trek through the serene, moonlit landscapes, you’ll experience the beauty and tranquility of Calgary’s winter in a uniquely intimate way.
Zipline at Winsport’s Canada Olympic Park
For thrill-seekers, Winsport’s Canada Olympic Park offers a zipline that starts from the ski jump tower. As you zip down the line, you’ll enjoy breathtaking views of the snow-covered city and the surrounding landscapes, providing an adrenaline rush like no other.
Explore the Calgary Farmers’ Market
A trip to the Calgary Farmers’ Market is a fantastic indoor retreat from the frosty outdoors. The market, open all year round, is particularly inviting during winter. Browse through the stalls offering fresh produce, artisanal food, crafts, and more. Warm up with a hot chocolate or a hearty meal at one of the many food stalls.
Winter Bird Watching at Inglewood Bird Sanctuary
Bird enthusiasts should not miss a winter visit to the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. Despite the cold weather, many bird species stick around. With fewer visitors around, winter can be one of the best times to observe these creatures. Make sure to dress warmly and bring your binoculars!
Soak in the Banff Upper Hot Springs
A short drive from Calgary, the Banff Upper Hot Springs offer the perfect winter experience. Soak in the natural hot springs as you enjoy the view of the snow-covered Rocky Mountains. The contrast of the hot springs against the chilly weather creates a uniquely relaxing experience.
Visit the Spruce Meadows Christmas Market
Experience the joy of the holiday season at the Spruce Meadows Christmas Market. This annual event features over 300 vendors selling everything from handcrafted gifts to gourmet food items. The market is adorned with festive decorations, and the atmosphere is filled with holiday cheer, making it a perfect winter outing.
Dog Sledding in Canmore
Head to Canmore, just outside of Calgary, for a unique winter adventure: dog sledding. Several companies offer tours that allow you to lead your own team of dogs across the stunning, snow-covered landscapes. It’s an unforgettable experience that combines excitement, natural beauty, and a touch of the area’s traditional culture.
Cross-country Skiing at the Canmore Nordic Centre
The Canmore Nordic Centre, a legacy of the 1988 Winter Olympics, provides world-class cross-country skiing trails. Whether you’re a seasoned skier or a novice, the centre has trails to suit all levels. Rent equipment on-site and glide through the beautiful, snow-clad forest trails.
Dine in a Heated Patio
Calgary’s restaurants have adapted to the winter chill by offering heated patio dining. These cozy, outdoor spaces allow you to enjoy a meal under the stars, surrounded by heaters or firepits to keep you warm. Whether it’s sipping a hot beverage or enjoying a hearty meal, dining on a heated patio offers a unique and delightful winter experience.
Visit the Calgary Zoo’s ZOOLIGHTS
Each winter, the Calgary Zoo hosts ZOOLIGHTS, a spectacular display of Christmas lights. The zoo is transformed into a magical winter wonderland with over two million lights. Apart from the dazzling light displays, the event features activities like fire pits, ice carving demonstrations, and a ‘sugar shack’ offering sweet treats.
Winter Hiking at Fish Creek Provincial Park
Fish Creek Provincial Park, one of the largest urban parks in Canada, offers excellent winter hiking opportunities. Trails wind through frozen forests and along the icy creek, offering picturesque views. Remember to dress warmly and wear sturdy shoes.
Ice Fishing in Nearby Lakes
Ice fishing is a unique winter activity that’s popular in the Calgary area. Local lakes like Pine Coulee Reservoir, Ghost Lake, and Grotto Pond are well-known ice fishing spots. You’ll need to bring your own equipment and make sure to check the ice thickness for safety.
Ice Skating in Bowness Park
Bowness Park features a beautiful lagoon that’s transformed into a public skating rink in winter. The park offers skate rentals and the rink is regularly maintained, ensuring a smooth skating experience. Surrounded by snow-covered trees and with music playing in the background, it’s a charming and fun way to spend a winter day.
Winter Photography at Vermillion Lakes
Just a drive away from Calgary, the Vermillion Lakes offer stunning winter landscapes perfect for photography. Capture the beauty of the frozen lakes, snow-laden trees, and the scenic backdrop of Mount Rundle. The area is particularly beautiful during sunrise and sunset.
Attend the Glow Downtown Winter Light Festival
The Glow Downtown Winter Light Festival is an annual event that brightens up Calgary’s winter nights. Various light art installations are displayed across downtown, turning the city into an interactive urban gallery. It’s a wonderful way to explore the city and its artistic side during the winter.
In conclusion, winter in Calgary is a season of wonder and adventure, offering a range of unique activities that go beyond the typical. From thrilling outdoor adventures to warm indoor retreats, Calgary presents a winter experience that combines beauty, fun, and a touch of the extraordinary. Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, bundle up and venture out to explore the city’s winter offerings—you’re in for a treat!
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