Edmonton, Alberta is historically known as the “Gateway to the North”. In this city, the fun doesn’t stop when the snow starts to fall and winter comes. There are lots of things to see and do, when staying in Canada’s Festival City.
1. Go Skating Outdoors
Photo credit: City of Edmonton
It’s always beautiful weather on an ice rink! Edmonton has many local rinks open for use, but the two most popular rinks in the city are Hawrelak Park and the Victoria Oval. Hawrelak Park freezes and floods the large lake in the park’s centre for a unique winter experience. Victoria Oval is just as big and features the smoothest ice in the city, which speed skaters often use to train on!
Both the Victoria Oval and Hawrelak Park rinks have a Warming Pavilion for you to put on your skates and warm up, and stay open until 10pm daily. They are free for use and in beautiful locations, all you need are skates and gloves! There is also skating in Churchill Square, in front of City Hall in the middle of Downtown complete with decorated lights and a fire pit to warm up.
When: All winter long, weather depending
2. Explore the Ice Castle
Photo credit: Ice Castles
Imagine entering a maze-like world of ice and colour…in Edmonton! That dream is now a reality thanks to the first year of the Edmonton Ice Castle, located in Hawrelak Park. The massive structure is created out of thousands of icicles, coming together to form ice slides, tunnels, caves, and more.
You’ll definitely want to make this attraction a stop on your winter activity list. Make sure to check the website out in advance, though, to see the Ice Castle’s hours and prices.
When: December 30th, 2015 – March 2016
Cost: Price varies whether or not you buy tickets in advance, but adult tickets vary from $12.95 to $20. Buy your tickets online here.
3. Watch the Northern Lights
Photo credit: Charles Adam
The Northern Lights are a frequent sight in a city as far up north as Edmonton, where they often come out after midnight for four months in the winter. The green and pink lights dance across the sky and, at times, are strong enough to see even in the city. Because of the “light pollution” – lots of lights from houses and streets - in Edmonton, it is easier to see the Northern Lights somewhere outside the city. Elk Island National Park is a great place to go. Located 45 minutes outside the city, you can watch the lights appear over the frozen lake.
When: Usually in the winter months. Check here to find the best day to spot the Lights.
4. Get on the Ski Slopes
Photo credit: City of Edmonton
Inside the city of Edmonton lie multiple ski hills for those who can’t get away to the mountains to ski and snowboard. Snow Valley, a popular ski hill, offers lessons, season passes and more to help you “hit the slopes”. Every day, Snow Valley discounts all lift tickets in half for the last two hours, making it cheaper too!
As a university student, you can also enjoy a discounted day pass with a valid student ID. By showing your ONEcard, you can enjoy skiing or snowboarding for only $15. Friday day passes, also, are only $10, with a Foodbank donation. If you don’t have equipment, you can rent some on-site.
When: Any day until April, 2016 (Student Discount not in effect from December 18 – January 5)
Cost: Student Discount: $15 (Monday-Thursday: 3pm to 6pm); Evenings: $10 (Monday-Friday: 6:30pm to 9pm; Saturday and Sunday: 3pm to 5pm)
5. Watch the Stars
Photo credit: Telus World of Science - Edmonton
The Telus World of Science – Edmonton (TWOSE) is a fun and educational museum that celebrates science and technology. In addition to its incredible exhibits (which you can explore here), TWOSE also offers a free observatory for those who are curious about observing the night sky. The telescopes are open on the weekend at varying times.
The University of Alberta Observatory is also open in the winter for your discovery. Every Thursday, you can stop by the Observatory in ECHA for solar observing (noon) and night sky observing.
When: Friday, Saturday, & Sunday – check the website for more information
Think Edmonton looks awesome? So do we! Come and study in Canada at the University of Alberta!
Get more information on programs and how to apply here.