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January 18, 2022
January 11, 2018

Don’t stay home all winter

Seven things to do

Written by Jeff Samsonow


Edmonton has always been a winter city, thanks to its northern location. But it’s really only in the last few years we’ve attempted to embrace this again. Hey, it’s cold and it snows, let’s just accept that an enjoy it. (Side note: I love referring to Edmonton as North America’s northernmost metropolis.)

Because Edmonton is starting to program more during the winter, and we all seem to be OK with venturing outside in the cold, here are some things to do when the days are dark and the leaf blowers are loud

1. Winter festivals

2018 is the Year of the Dog. image source

From Ice on Whyte’s carving and sculpture competition and the storytelling and culture of Flying Canoe, to the family fun of Silver Skate and Deep Freeze, we’ve extended festival season to the entire year. If you’re looking for an excuse to get out of the house before spring, our winter festivals are lots of fun.

A couple of places to check for details and more events include Taproot Edmonton’s winter festival guide and Winter City Edmonton.

The Alberta Legislature also hosts a Family Day event in February. And don’t forget the Lunar New Year, with a multitude of events celebrating the Year of the Dog and Edmonton’s Chinese and Asian cultures (including the new Chinatown Dining Week).

2. Outdoor rinks

Edmonton has a lot of outdoor ice rinks. Like, a lot.

Check the EFCL’s website to find a community league near you with an outdoor ice surface (or two) and grab your skates, your friends and a thermos. (Go to the League Directory page and search by “rink” under facility amenities.) 

Make sure to check if your local community league is also hosting a winter festival or event.

More skating

Edmonton’s also got two iceways you can skate on in Victoria and Rundle Parks, if you’re looking for a different experience. Not to mention the big outdoor surfaces in Castle Downs, Hawrelak, Jackie Parker and Victoria Parks and the Meadows.

You can also skate at City Hall through the winter, with some live music on Sundays

3. Bike

Free coffee if you bike Fridays. image source

This is Edmonton’s first winter with actual to goodness bike lanes, and you can ride through the downtown and around Old Strathcona (including the 83 Avenue bike lane, and through Queen Alexandra on 106 Street and 76 Avenue). Make sure to pick up your free coffee every Friday morning at YEG Coffee Outside.

If you haven’t yet tried biking in winter, you could always pick up a rental and give it a try. You can even test out a fat bike.

There will probably be more people than usual riding on February 9, for Winter Bike to Work Day

4. The Ice Castle

It’s a castle. Made of ice. Bring your Instagram.


A post shared by Go Insurance (@insurancegoauto) on

5. Do some good

If you’re in a place to help out, you can donate warm clothing, money or your own time to services in Edmonton like Boyle Street (among others) who help our city’s homeless and vulnerable communities. Winter can be a dangerous and deadly season for those living outside, alone or without social supports.

Warmth, food, clothing and human interaction are tremendous gifts, whether they are provided to social service agencies, seniors centres, youth outreach programs or just a neighbour you know could use a visit or help around their home.

On February 6, you’ll also see people selling toques in downtown Edmonton, as part of the annual Toque Tuesday campaign, with half the money going to Homeward Trust Edmonton. 

You can also donate to or take part in the Coldest Night of the Year to raise money for the Bissell Centre and Cold Hands, Warm Hearts for Hope Mission.

6. Stay out late

The Northern Lights. image source

Short days make for dark winter nights, and our skies can be pretty impressive. Whether it’s the orange glow after snowfalls, the stars of a clear night that follow our many sunny days, or the chance to see the Northern Lights, there’s a reason to stay outside once the streetlights come on.

The University of Alberta is tracking the Northern Lights and you can sign up for alerts for nights they’re really dancing (there are other apps out there too). Also, consider getting out of the city to check out the dark sky preserve to the east of Edmonton, including Elk Island National Park. 

7. Try something new

You can hit a patio, strap on snowshoes, toboggan, jump on some skis, take a walk, and experience Edmonton in new ways through various City of Edmonton programs, parks, events and rentals. WinterCity Edmonton is a great resource for more winter ideas.

A number of restaurants keep patios open all winter. image source

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