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21 Fun Things to do in Edmonton Winter Activities

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Edmonton is the northernmost metropolis and the capital city of the Canadian province of Alberta. Edmonton is often called the “City of Festivals” and rightly so, as this place is full of events and festivities on a regular basis. When the snow falls here, you enter into a winter wonderland of festivities. There is just so much to do and enjoy in this amazing Canadian capital city. We have listed some of the best and fun things to do in Edmonton winter for every traveler.

Winter Activities in Edmonton: 21 Fun Things to do in Edmonton Winter

Things to do in Edmonton Winter
Things to do in Edmonton Winter

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Christmas Lights at Alberta Legislature Grounds

Edmonton is the capital city of the province of Alberta. The Alberta Legislature building or the ledge is beautifully decorated during the winter season for Christmas. You can take a stroll, get pictures, and enjoy the winter with a hot cup of cocoa. It is located right in front of the legislature building and is easily accessible by public transit (Grandin Station).

The Christmas lights are lit up at the beginning of December by the Alberta Premier in the evening.

There are tons of fun things to do in Edmonton winter like chasing northern lights, snowshoeing, skiing, ice castles and other special winter events.
Alberta Legislature

From the beginning to the week leading to Christmas Eve, the Legislature grounds are filled with winter activities and Christmas festivities.

There are performances by dozens of local musical ensembles. Performances are usually at 12 pm on weekdays and 6:30 pm daily in the Grand Rotunda.

At the Legislature grounds, you can enjoy a skate on the outdoor rink, or do some shopping at the Alberta Branded store in the Visitor’s Centre.

Cost: Free

Dates: Starts December 03, 2020, to January 2021

Typical Hours: Evenings to late at night. 

How to reach there? Transit services available, including LRT (Stop: Grandin Station Government Centre). Car. 

Christmas at the Legislature Edmonton
Christmas at the Legislature Edmonton

Castrol Raceway Magic of Lights

Castrol Raceway tracks are located near the Edmonton International airport, in Leduc. The raceway is illuminated with LED lights to ring in the Christmas season.

It is a perfect Christmas display, which you can experience without freezing in the cold. From the comfort of your vehicle, you can drive through the 2 km stretch and enjoy the hundreds of thousands of sparkling lights.

Cost: $25 CAD+

Dates: November 20 to January 02, 2021

Typical Hours: 05:00 pm to 10:00 pm

How to reach there? Car only

Candy Cane Lane – Christmas Decorations Across the City 

The Candy Cane tradition started over 40 years ago by a small group of residents in Crestwood Community in Edmonton. Over the years, Candy Cane Lane has grown in size. It is located at 148 Street between 100 to 92 Avenues. The residents here display the impressive lights and sounds during the December month in the spirit of Christmas fun.

There are tons of fun things to do in Edmonton winter like chasing northern lights, snowshoeing, skiing, ice castles and other special winter events.
Candy Cane Lane Edmonton

Cost: Free (donation accepted for local Food Bank)

Dates: December 11 2020 to January 01, 2021

Typical Hours: Evenings till late night

How to reach there? Car

Christmas Square –Winston Churchill Square

Churchill Square is a safe, friendly, vibrant space located in the heart of Downtown Edmonton. Every year in November the Winston Churchill Square is lit to welcome the Christmas spirit. There are live performances in the square and the event kicks off with the lighting of the 72 foot Christmas tree adorned with 8-thousand LED lights!

Imagine the lit-up sky with cascading snowfalls, sparkles, and stars. The Light Up is followed by a spectacular firework show that illuminated the Downtown sky!

The Christmas tree is BACK this year!

Cost: Free 

Dates: Starts November 27, 2020 – January 8, 2021

Typical Hours: 04:00 – 10:00 pm

How to reach there? Car or transit (Station Churchill Square)

There are tons of fun things to do in Edmonton winter like chasing northern lights, snowshoeing, skiing, ice castles and other special winter events.
Christmas Glow in Edmonton

Art Gallery of Alberta

If the weather is TOO cold for you, warm up and head indoors to the Art Gallery of Alberta. Located pretty close to Winston Churchill Square, the Art Gallery of Alberta is one of the excellent centers for the visual arts in Western Canada. 

Cost: $12.50 CAD (FREE on Thursday 07:00 – 09:00 pm) 

Typical Hours: Website

The Winter Wonder Forest

2020 saw the wonderful drive-thru Holiday Light Experience in Edmonton. The Winter Wonder Forest included lights and a music show along with ice sculptures. The entire trip is not that long, you will be done in about 25 to 30 minutes, but you need to get in there early.

Winter Wander Village Edmonton
Winter Wander Forest

This is a complete drive-thru event only, and hence car/vehicle is required. Tickets can be booked online.

Cost: $30 CAD per vehicle

Dates: November 27, 2020 – January 3, 2021

Typical Hours: 04:30 – 10:30 pm

How to reach there? Car

Edmonton Christmas Glow *canceled for 2020

If you don’t like the cold weather, then the Christmas Glow is the perfect place for you. It is the largest indoor Christmas festival in greater Edmonton (located in Saint Albert). The Enjoy Centre in Saint Albert hosts the Christmas Glow.

The centre is completely illuminated by half a million lights and is a stunning space. My favorite part was the light maze, a very pretty, and great photography space. There are Christmas markets inside as well as food vendors.

Tickets can be purchased online. It is cheaper to buy online and on weekdays you can receive 20% of the ticket price.

Cost: $16.99 – 24.99 CAD

Dates: TBD

Typical Hours: 04:00 – 10:00 pm

How to reach there? Car

Edmoton Glow

Other Lights events in the City

There are many other lights festivities in town.

  • Lights up at the Edmonton City Hall, at the beginning of December until Christmas eve (you can also visit the Alberta Arts Gallery nearby for some art display. Or you can visit and the Royal Alberta Museum to learn about Alberta history and culture)
  • Alberta Zoo – Enjoy the festival of lights (Zoominescence) with skating, DJ, and other activities. Starts from November 26 to January 3rd, 2021. Ticket starts from CAD $8.50/adult
  • Winter Whyte Lights Up – Lights up at the Old Strathcona neighborhood and marketplace. Event on November 26-28, 2020, from 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM. Free entry. 

Igloos in Courtyard Riverside

Edmonton winter igloo
Edmonton winter igloo

The Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in downtown Edmonton sets up 3 igloos in their patio area for diners to enjoy. This has been their winter feature since the winter of 2019. 

Each igloo at the Bistro can accommodate up to 6 guests.

For 2020-21,

  • Reservations can be made for 3:00 PM, 5:00 PM, or 7:00 PM seatings. Note that you are only allowed to spend 1.50 hours inside
  • There is a minimum spend of $150 CAD (which also includes $100 CAD food and drinks credit)
  • Dates: Open from October 16th, 2020 onwards and through winter 2020-21 season
  • Call for reservations: 780-423-9999
  • Read the full review of Winter igloos in Edmonton here
Winters in Edmonton

It is fairly warm inside the igloo, We visited in early December 2020, and a light wool coat was sufficient. There is a heater inside the igloo that keeps the space warm, and a curtain keeps the cold air out. 

Take a tour with River Valley Adventures

If not the igloo, join the River Valley Adventures for snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. They organize segway tours in the summer, and in the winter you can rent equipment to experience the pristine winter wonderland. Or book snowshoe tours with River Valley Adventures

Did you know that Edmonton’s river valley is 22 times the size of New York’s central park? It has over 150 km of trails, making it one of the largest in the whole of North America

Spend time at the Mall

Do you know that Canada’s largest mall is located in Edmonton? Yes! It is. West Edmonton Mall is a shopper’s paradise with over 800 stores. And Christmas is the best season to visit this retail kingdom. There are lights, Christmas decorations, events all across the mall. Good time to also shop till you drop!

Christmas at the Edmonton Mall (2)
Christmas Decorations at the West Edmonton Mall

And don’t forget to get pictures with Santa!

Local craftsmen and Christmas specialty stores are also set up in the mall for Christmas shopping.

Other malls with Christmas activities include – South Gate Mall, City Centre Mall, Kingsway Mall, and South Common Mall.

Cost: Free

Typical Hours: 09:30 am to 09:00 pm

How to reach there? Transit Buses, Car

Christmas Decorations at South Gate Mall Edmonton
Christmas Decorations at South Gate Mall Edmonton

Cross Country Skiing Edmonton

Edmonton is a great host for winter sports and activities. There are 3 ski resorts within the city’s limits. They are Rabbit Hill Resort, Edmonton Ski Club, and Snow Valley Ski Club.

Edmonton’s River valley also turns into a ski and snowboarding paradise every winter. Adventurers come in to enjoy a fun morning with kick sledding and tobogganing down the snow slopes!

There are many trails in Edmonton that allow for cross country skiing. The Edmonton Nordic Ski Club is one of the popular ones.

Winter sports festival like the Silver Skate festival (same location as Ice Castles) welcomes over 106,000+ attendees. This year the event will be hosted from February 8th – 18th, 2018. Silver Skate Festival is rooted in Dutch winter traditions and the festival combines sport (especially skating), arts and culture, and recreation.

Cost: Free

Typical Hours: 09:00 am to 09:00 pm (skiing hours may vary)

How to reach there? Car, Transit Bus for some locations

Ice Skating Edmonton

Lace-up and you can enjoy the stunning views of Edmonton including the river valley. There are many options to choose from, for skating options in the city, both indoor and outdoor rinks. Some of the outdoor staking rinks are located in the following areas –

  • Alberta Legislature Grounds (10:00 am – 10:00 pm)
  • William Hawrelak Park (09:00 am – 10:00 pm)
  • Rundle Park IceWay (09:00 am – until dusk)
  • Victoria Park Oval and IceWay (11:00 am – 10:00 pm)
There are tons of fun things to do in Edmonton winter like chasing northern lights, snowshoeing, skiing, ice castles and other special winter events.
Ice Rink West Edmonton Mall

One of the indoor ice rinks includes the Mayfield Toyota Ice Palace at the West Edmonton Mall. You can rent skates and helmet here as well. More on the ice rink here

Strathcona Wilderness Centre is a great place for ice skating and skiing in the winter. Skate lanes are hard by December, and you can also rent equipment here. You can ski here, pass can be purchased online.

Other than winter activities, during fall you can join walking tours through the trails at the Wilderness Centre. 

Snowshoeing Edmonton

If you want to stargaze and snowshoe – both – then head to the Elk Island National Park. This park is located 45 minutes from Edmonton city centre and is a great option for a full day or a half-day trip from Edmonton.

It is actually quite a fun family activity enjoying the white snow outside. You can rent snowshoes at most locations including the Elk Island National Park.

Other locations for snowshoeing include Fort Edmonton Park, Rundle Park, Millwood’s Park, Strathcona Recreation Area, William Hawrelak Park, Capilano Park.

Cost: Rentals start at $7 CAD/hour or $25 CAD/day

Typical Hours: 10:00 am – 06:00 pm

How to reach there? Car, Transit Bus for some locations

Snow Ball Fight – Rundle Park

Rundle Park is a municipal park located in Edmonton, Canada. This beautiful park overlooks the North Saskatchewan River so you can imagine how stunning it is. When you reach there, it is like a snowy winter wonderland waiting to kick in river valley adventure – play with snow, have fun winter fun here.

Cost: Free

Typical Hours: 10:00 am – 06:00 pm

How to reach there? Car or Transit Bus

Ice Castle & Ice Displays

Edmonton in winter is icy cold. But we found a great way to enjoy this biting cold. During the months of December and January, the city is turned into an ice haven.

Ice Castles are one of the popular ice sculpture displays in town that are displayed at William Hawrelak Park. They are created by ice artists and they are brought to Edmonton from Utah in the USA.

Edmonton Ice Castles Display
Edmonton Ice Castles Display

The Ice Castles are a trademark of Ice castles LLC and they have been setting up ice displays since 2011. Cold weather is imperative for a successful ice castle display. In some years, the ice castles have been displayed for 4 months (from December to March) and in some years, it only lasted a month to 6 weeks.

Ice castles ticket costs $15-20 CAD and can be purchased online. They also offer pre-sale of tickets at a discount. Tickets are offered from the first week of December onwards. Check their website for more

Read about our Ice Castles Display experience and tips from our visit

Cost: N/A

Dates: Cancelled for 2020

Typical Hours: N/A

How to reach there? Car

There are tons of fun things to do in Edmonton winter like chasing northern lights, snowshoeing, skiing, ice castles and other special winter events.
Ice Castles Display

Ice on Whyte Festivals

Located in the historic Strathcona neighborhood (at Whyte Avenue and Gateway Blvd), Ice on Whyte is an ice carving festival. International artists arrive in Edmonton to carve ice and display them during this festival. This is a must-visit item! 

Ice Craving competitions are held at the same festival every year. It is held on the last weekend of January and the first weekend of February. The festival boasts of a giant ice slide, delicious food & ice sculptures. There is an ice bar located at the event as well. 

Cost: $7 CAD +

Dates: Learn more about the event here.

Typical Hours: 02:00 pm to 10:00 pm

How to reach there? Car, Transit Bus and then walk

Edmonton Northern Lights

Edmonton is located in the northern part of Alberta. And sighting Northern Lights during winters is common. Find a dark scheduled place, away from the hustle-bustle of the city lights to chase the Aurora Borealis.

From Edmonton, areas like Leduc and Elk Island National Park are very common to see northern lights dazzling the sky. Check out this website or download an Aurora app to maximize the possibility of seeing northern lights. As always dress well for winters.

For stargazers, there are a few options within the city to consider. The Telus World of Science (RASC) and the University of Alberta Observatory are great for stargazing. The Telus World of Science is operated by the Edmonton Space & Science Foundation and also has many interactive galleries, IMAX theatres, and many other indoor activities.

There are tons of fun things to do in Edmonton winter like chasing northern lights, snowshoeing, skiing, ice castles and other special winter events.

Just outside the city of Edmonton, is the Elk Island National Park and it is an awesome location for stargazers. The Beaver Hills Dark Preserve is a dedicated 300 km square for maintaining dark skies, away from pollution (read zero pollution) to see stars and galaxies, including the Northern Lights.

Cost: Free 

Typical Hours: After midnight

How to reach there? Car

Special Edmonton Winter Activities & Events

Edmonton also organizes some very unique and special events, which you should not miss. Keep in mind, they are special events and so tickets sell out very fast. So book ahead of time.

Check out the city of Edmonton website to learn more about events.

There are tons of fun things to do in Edmonton winter like chasing northern lights, snowshoeing, skiing, ice castles and other special winter events.

Luminaria

The Devonian Botanic Garden is Canada’s most northerly botanical garden. This garden is set up and maintained by the University of Alberta. It is located in Parkland County – only 15 minutes from West Edmonton Mall or SW Edmonton (5 km north of Devon on Highway 60). The garden is lit up for its annual Christmas festival called the Luminaria.

The gardens turn into a heavenly paradise with all the Christmas decorations. The event is held for 2 days at the beginning of December. Tickets can be purchased online

Cost: $20 CAD

Dates: Thursdays through Sundays, Jan. 14-31 2021

Typical Hours: Between 05:00 to 10:00 pm

How to reach there? Car or free shuttle from Devon Shopping Center

Fort Edmonton Park

A living history museum, Fort Edmonton Park travels through time and takes you to an old-fashioned Christmas era. Every year, in the week leading to Christmas Eve, the Park organizes special events called the Christmas Reflections.

As part of Christmas Reflections, you can enjoy a horse-drawn wagon ride and some hot chocolate, for $10 CAD at Fort Edmonton Park. It is located at 7000 143 Street, Edmonton. This event is called the Winter Wagon Nights (part of the Christmas Reflections celebration)

You can also enjoy holiday brunch at the Fort Edmonton Park at the Christmas Reflections. It is also a great place for your holiday shopping and for enjoying a warm winter bonfire in the evening.

Cost: $10- 22 CAD

Typical Hours: 06:00 pm – 09:00 pm (wagon rides)

How to reach there? Car, Transit Bus or LRT (South Campus/Fort Edmonton Park stop in LRT, both lines)

Other Winter Festivities in Edmonton

Edmonton winter festivals

There are tons of winter festivals in Edmonton to satisfy every traveler.

  • Santa’s Parade of Lights – Santa’s Parade of Lights is organized every year in mid-November. The parade starts in Jasper Ave and 100 ST (Edmonton City centre), to welcome the wonder of winter and the arrival of Santa Claus!
  • CP Holiday Train – The train, which is decorated with Christmas lights, raises money, donations, and awareness for food banks across the country. The Holiday train’s journey starts in November and pulls over in Edmonton in early December. Music bands that are on the train perform a 30-minute concert, and then there are presentations with local food banks before the train pulls out to its next stop.
  • Deep Freeze Byzantine Winter Festival – The Deep Freeze Byzantine Winter Festival is a free 2-day family event uniting Ukrainian, Franco-Albertan, Franco-African, First Nations, Chinese, and Acadian/East cultures.

Best Winter Activities Edmonton by Month

MONTHEVENT
NovemberSanta’s Parade
of Lights
Churchill Sq Christmas Tree
20-Jan 2, 2021Castrol Raceway Lights
Glow Edmonton*
26-28 2020Winter Whyte
Lights Up
DECEMBER
3-Jan 2021Lights at the Ledge
Till Jan 2021Zoominescence
Till Jan 2021Luminaria
Till Jan 2, 2021Candy Cane Lane
Dec – FebStargazing/Snowshoeing
Elk Island NP
JANUARY
Ice Castles*
Jan 27- Feb 6Ice on Whyte
FEBRUARY
Feb 5 -16Deep Freeze
SliverSkate Fest
*canceled for 2020

Best places to eat in winters in Edmonton

Winters are also time to eat and stay jolly! When the city of Edmonton is basking in Christmas lights, our dinner plates are also glorified in a variety of cuisines. You can truly experience international cuisines in Edmonton, but don’t forget the Alberta steak.

There are tons of fun things to do in Edmonton winter like chasing northern lights, snowshoeing, skiing, ice castles and other special winter events.
Enjoy Steak in Edmonton

Few restaurants and dishes to try

Enjoying food in Edmonton doesn’t come with a hefty price tag nor does it involve pre-booking and reserving tables. We have tons of fast-food chains and bars & restaurants where you can enjoy a good steak, drinks, or any ethnic cuisines.

For the holidays, it is a great idea to dine in and play. The Rec Room in South Edmonton Common has dining options, bowling alleys, games and so much. You can find activity and dine-in options at various places across the city including the West Edmonton Mall or even in a Cineplex.

There are tons of fun things to do in Edmonton winter like chasing northern lights, snowshoeing, skiing, ice castles and other special winter events.
The Rec Room – South Edmonton Common

But you know, the winter comes just once. So grab some hot chocolate or peppermint latte and hit the outdoors. It is truly heavenly and you must enjoy Edmonton winter this way!

Hot beverages options include Credo, Good Earth Café, Remedy Café, Nook Café, or our very own Tim Hortons and Starbucks!

Best Hotels in Edmonton for a Staycation

For some, winter is also the best time to hibernate. And why not if it is cozy, warm, and luxurious. Edmonton city has some of the finest hotels to take away the winter blues. Choose a weekend staycation or a home away from home.

Here are our top 5 picks

  1. Fairmont MacDonald HotelFairy tale castle staycation
    • Located in the downtown area, overlooking the river valley, amazing views all around
    • Perfect for a luxurious or romantic staycation
    • Great location to experience winter activities in Edmonton city
    • Book your stay here
  2. Fantasy Land HotelTakes to a different world
    • Located in the West Edmonton Mall, perfect place & reason to stay indoors
    • You can shop, dine, skate, take kids to the Galaxy land and relax at a spa here
    • Fantasy Land hotel rooms are unique. The rooms are designed to take you to a different “fantasy world”. You can choose a waterfall themed Polynesian room with a Jacuzzi or a luxurious Roman king staycation.
    • Book your stay here
  1. Union Bank InnComfort and classy
    • This stylish and classy boutique hotel is located in Downtown Edmonton
    • The hotel is housed in an old bank and is conveniently located with great access to Edmonton city must-see highlights
    • The hotel comes with evening wine and cheese 
    • Book your stay here
  2. Metterra on WhyteSleek and cool
    • Located in the historic Old Strathcona
    • Quick access to Downtown and University of Alberta
    • Rooms come with fireplaces, whirlpool tubs & private patios
    • Book your stay here
  3. Hyatt Place Edmonton WestGreat place, great price 
    • Located close to West Edmonton Mall, this a great hotel with all the amenities
    • You have access to a pool, hot tub and the hotel provides you with free breakfast and parking
    • Rooms come with fireplaces, whirlpool tubs & private patios
    • Book your stay here

Search for more Edmonton Hotels and book here

Travel Tips for Edmonton Alberta Canada

Edmonton winter is nothing to be afraid of, but it is always better to be prepared. Here are some helpful tips for your visit to Edmonton Alberta.

Weather and Temperature in Edmonton in winters

From October onwards, you can definitely feel the winter sets in. Temperatures on some days will drop to a low of 0 degrees Celsius. You will still see fall colors this month.

From November onwards, we are in winters officially. Our first snowfall of the year happens in early November and most Christmas related activities start around this time as well. Temperature-wise, we experience a high of 1 degree Celsius and a low of – 8 degree Celsius. Due to the wind chill, feels like temperature is even lower (probably around -15 degree Celsius or so)

In December, when all of the Christmas events and winter festivals are on, the temperature drops to -7 degrees Celsius and the lowest of -16 degrees Celsius.

In January and February, we are still enjoying winters and temperatures are at a high of -3 to a lowest of -16 degree Celsius.

Listen to local news for any weather advisory. 

There are tons of fun things to do in Edmonton winter like chasing northern lights, snowshoeing, skiing, ice castles and other special winter events.
Edmonton Travel Tips

Best way to explore Edmonton in Winter

During winters the best way to explore the city is in a car. Car rental options are available at the airport and throughout the city. Roads could be icy when the first snow-fall occurs or if temperatures are slightly warmer. So use caution when you drive and ensure winter tires are on.

Some of the winter events in Downtown Edmonton or municipal parks can be accessed by public buses (Edmonton Transit services) or LRT (Light Rail Transit). Please check the schedule and routes for buses here. One way train or bus ride is $3.25 CAD per adult rider. Exact change is required, or you can buy a ticket at the LRT station or a pack of 10 tickets can be purchased at most gas stations and convenience stores.

Edmonton has local taxi services – Yellow Cabs, Co-Taxi. Uber services are available as well.

What to Pack for Edmonton Winter

Edmonton is definitely cold during winters. The wind chill in the air also makes it harder for some people to enjoy the winters here. But it is due to the cold, we also have snow all around and experience a white Christmas in most years.

So definitely pack warm clothes. Here is a handy list –

  • Winter Jacket – Warm winter jacket, wind, waterproof with a hood if possible. Fleece lining is great. Filled with goose down to keep you warm.
  • Thermals – It is beneficial to carry a pair of top and bottom thermals to wear underneath the jacket to keep you warm
  • Scarf – Very handy, especially with the wind chill
  • Gloves – Mandatory item
  • Beanie or warm hat
  • Warm Socks or long johns
  • Winter Boots – Lined with fleece, sturdy bottom.
  • Read: What to wear in Canadian Winters
Luminaria UofA
Luminaria UofA

Additional Reading – Travel Alberta Resources 

If you are visiting Edmonton or Alberta in general, you will find these posts very helpful

Hope you enjoyed our list of fun things to do in Edmonton in the winter season. Share your favorite activity below! 

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