New Years Eve Western Canada Style

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Joanne Elves

Do we really need to push repeat? We count down to midnight, kiss everyone, shout out “Happy New Year,” then we drink too much. THEN, we nurse yet another January 1st hangover while watching the Rose Bowl Parade while lazing on the sofa. Couldn’t we try something different this year? Check out these ideas for getting outside while celebrating the new year.

Howl at the moon

January 1st will ring in with a Super Moon. Or because it is the first full moon of the year, it’s called a Wolf Moon. So, dress warm and head out for a hike or grab your cross-country skis and head out for a moon -lit ski. And at midnight – howl at the moon! Its gotta be good luck – right?

Ski with a flame on a stick

Torchlight parade

Sun Peaks Resort packs in a night of excitement for all ages. Kids can participate in the safe Glow Slick Parade in the village then watch as the Sundance ski run glows during the Torchlight Parade. Okay, it’s not really a flame but its sure fun to watch or participate in as hundreds of skiers and boarders snake down the run. All of that is followed by a fireworks display against the mountain backdrop. Find out how to participate here.

If you are in Banff, look up at Mount Norquay Ski Resort at 7 p.m. for the trail of torches winding from the top of the North American chair. If you want to dare join in on the black diamond run after dark, click here for details.

Find some fireworks in your hometown


Down on the waterfront at Howe and Burrard, the city of Vancouver is going crazy with food and fireworks. There’s free live entertainment for six hours counting down to midnight. But while you wait, see how many food trucks you can visit. There promises to be over 20 lined up. Learn more and gather your free and not-so-free VIP tickets here.

Check tourism listing for your community for fireworks. The harbour in Victoria will light up, Olympic Plaza in Calgary will dazzle, and, don’t miss them in Edmonton – the show moves to 9 pm at the Legislative Buildings.

January 1 is your day to jump in for a Polar Bear swims

Polar bear swim

Nothing starts the year off right like a quick dip in icy cold water. Back in 1904, the zany folks in Boston harbour jumped in on the annual tradition and Vancouver was quick to follow in 1920. Now, there is a Vancouver Polar Bear Swim Club that dips into English Bay every January first. Last year there were 1506 dippers. Will you be there on January 1st. Find out how to register here.

Not in Vancouver? That’s no reason not to jump into the action. Check out the Kelowna Polar Bear Dip, or the Polar Bear Swim in Sidney, B.C. or the Polar Dip Day in Calgary, Alberta.

Here’s some traditions that make us Canadians jumping into frozen lakes look boring

-The Dane’s “leap” into the new year by jumping from a chair at midnight

-In Spain, people start the new year with 12 grapes in their mouth to bring 12 months of good luck.

-In Scotland and Greece, the first foot into the house on New Years will bring bad or good luck. Best to invite a family or close friend to come baring gifts.

What ever you decide to do. Play safe, don’t drink and drive or dang it…don’t drive after smoking a reefer. Be good to each other, be good to yourself. Don’t make grand resolutions that you’ll fail to do. Keep it simple and pure. Promise to learn, explore, transform and discover. Happy New Year.

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