Four cool winter events in Alberta and B.C.
If there was ever a winter where we all needed something to look forward to – this is the one. Western Canada is walking the winter talk with an energetic lineup of winter festivals that will be sure to cure your cabin fever, making you embrace sub-zero temperatures and don your coziest thermal underthings to gather outdoors in relative safety.
Start heating up your winter social calendar with these winter activities in B.C. and Alberta.
Jasper in January, Jan 14 -Jan 30
Over 30 years Jasper’s favourite winter fest has carried on, giving skiers, snowboarders and winter travelers some extra activities to take in around their days of skiing at Marmot Basin.
Think sleigh rides and retro ski movie nights, as well as Jasper Dining Week (Jan 23 - 30) and the Jasper Cup Pond Hockey Tournament (Jan 28 - 30). Plus, of course, some great deals on lift tickets and accommodations.
Ice on Whyte, Jan 27 - Feb 6
The ice masterpieces created by 10 teams of ice carvers are a sight to behold – many worthy of a museum exhibit. These artists’ creations are the highlight of this winter staple event in Edmonton, held Jan. 27-Feb. 6. But it’s really all about the warm electric vibe that takes over Whyte Avenue, one of the city’s hippest streets, for 10 days.
You can even learn how to sculpt a hunk of ice, sidle up to an ice bar to sample some locally made spirits, hear live music or attend a fashion show.
Vernon Winter Carnival, Feb 4 - 13
This two-week festival has been around for six decades. With all that experience, they really know how to throw a party.
Running Feb. 4–13, this is a festival you can plan a winter staycation holiday around. You might even amp up your getaway with a couple of days of downhill at nearby SilverStar (where some of the festival events happen, such as the snow sculpture competition) or Nordic skiing at beautiful Sovereign Lake.
There are too many action-packed events to list here, but here are some of the hot-ticket must-dos. Be sure to secure your tickets in advance because they can often go faster than a pair of freshly waxed skis.
Note that some of the events are one-day only while others continue throughout the 10 days.
- Vernon Snowmobile Association Scavenger Hunt, Feb. 6: Organized by the Vernon Snowmobile Association, at Sovereign Lake with 60 kms of snowmobile trails.
- Chocolate Express, Feb. 4-10: Chocolate-making, tastings and wine pairings.
- Winter Playground, daily: Tire out the kids with all kinds of snow and ice activities, while you chill with a bevvie at the Igloo Ice Bar.
Chinook Blast, Jan 18 - Feb 19 (various events)
Chinook is an Indigenous word meaning “snow eater,” but southern Albertans know it better as the warm winds that bring welcome relief to Calgary’s frigid temps. In that spirit, this six-week entertainment extravaganza rolls four of the city’s best winter events into one warming blanket that is sure to rekindle your love of winter.
A revolving door of entertainment, Chinook Blast encompasses theatre, music, arts, sports, culture and light shows. It runs Jan. 21 until Feb. 27.
You’ve likely heard of some of these events, but this is your chance to take in a few of them:
- One Yellow Rabbit’s High Performance Rodeo, Jan. 18-Feb. 6: From off-the wall to poignant, a series of plays held at venues around the city.
- Block Heater, Feb. 17-20: The Calgary Folk Festival’s winter cousin to its summer festival features stellar music at various bars and venues.
- Glow, Feb. 10-12 & Feb. 17-19: Calgary’s downtown is transformed into a mesmerizing light show, complete with pop up bars, ice carvers and entertainment.
- Big Winter Classic, Jan. 27-30: A trifecta of winter, local spirits and music taking place in Calgary’s Beltline area downtown.
As always, check the local COVID restrictions in your area (as well as guidance on the festival websites) before going out to be sure you're able to enjoy all the events without complication. Some events may be altered or postponed due to local restrictions so check the schedule before you head out!