Festive Ways To Have Fun Outside In Calgary This Winter
With the rise in Covid cases lately, many parents are looking for ways to keep their families entertained outside. Although lower temperatures can make it a little bit tricky, with a few extra layers, there’s plenty of fun to be had in the great outdoors.
Go Ice Skating
While there aren’t a ton of outdoor city-run rinks open in Calgary just yet, get ready to lace up your skates in late December when things really start to freeze over. Good news if you can’t wait to get on the ice, though – Olympic Plaza is open for the season and filled with beautiful lights which means you can still skate after the sun goes down! Don’t forget to check your local community rinks and the 35 volunteer-run rinks around the city to see when they’re officially open for the winter, too.
Have a Blast Sledding
There’s nothing better than some good old-fashioned slip and slide fun! Grab a toboggan and head to one of these city-maintained toboggan hills if you’re looking for the perfect way to spend an afternoon. Don’t forget to grab some hot chocolate afterwards to warm up!
Go Tubing at WinSport
If you’re looking for a tobogganing experience with an extra adrenaline boost, head to Canada Olympic Park to visit the WinSport Tube Park – one of the fastest of its kind in Canada. Grab a tube, jump on the magic carpet to the top of the slope and queue in one of the 8 lanes to get ready to race! The tube park doesn’t open until December 19th, so you’ll have to perfect your sliding skills on one of your neighbourhood hills until then.
Host A Holiday Scavenger Hunt
Get the family together to make up the perfect scavenger hunt list, or search for one online. Next, grab some snacks, hop in the car or bundle up and head out on foot to see who can cross the most items off of their list! Purple Christmas lights? 8 tiny reindeer? Santa with a mask on? The beauty of a scavenger hunt is you can change up the clues as often as you’d like, meaning you’ve got a new game to play whenever cabin fever is starting to sink in.
Go Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding
Living in Calgary means we’re lucky to be just a short drive to many different ski resorts. Whether you’re looking to spend a day in the mountains or just want to hit the slopes at Winsport, there are tons of great options for getting out on your skis or snowboard. Check out Sunshine Village, Castle Mountain, Nakiska, Lake Louise or Mount Norquay for a perfect day in some mountain powder!
Try Out Cross Country Skiing
Have you had a chance to try out cross country skiing? There are a handful of groomed trails within the city that can be accessed for free, including Shaganappi Point Golf Course, South Glenmore Park and Bowness Park. The University of Calgary Outdoor Centre also has rentals and lessons for beginners. If you’re looking to get out of the city for some cross-country adventuring, the Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park has more than 65 kilometres of groomed trails for beginners and more experienced skiers. They even have illuminated trails for night skiing, as well as rentals and lessons.
If you’re looking for a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city without actually leaving it, Calgary has tons of beautiful, nature-filled parks to explore. Get lost in the trees at Fish Creek Provincial Park, which is filled with hiking and biking trails and all sorts of wildlife. The Inglewood Bird Sanctuary offers lovely scenery and all kinds of birds to spot – don’t forget your binoculars! Nose Creek Hill, Carburn Park, Bowness Park and Pearce Estate Park are just a few more great locations to spend a snowy afternoon. Many of these parks also have playgrounds for the kids to check out, and some also have fire pits, making them a great spot for a winter wiener roast!
Build A Snowman
Do you wanna build a snowman? Sorry if that song will be stuck in your head for the rest of the day, but it’s the perfect theme music for getting outside and rolling out a brand new friend! Whether Frosty or Olaf are your go-to guys, gather up your carrots, hats, scarves and twigs to build a snowman together as a family, or have a competition to see whose snowman is the most creative! For extra fun, fill up squirt bottles with water and food colouring to spray on the snow and make things super colourful.
Check out Granary Road
Although the Active Learning Park might be closed for the season, there is still lots of fun to be had at Granary Road! On November 21 and 22, round up the family to check out Chocolate Fest, where there will be chocolate-themed activities galore. Make a chocolate-themed terrarium, watch a chocolate truffle-making demonstration, play with some frolicking goats, hop on a hayride and roast marshmallows for the perfect s’more! For each weekend in December, take in A Christmas To Remember, a Christmas Market with fun extras like alpaca photos, visits with Santa and Mrs Claus, ice skating, hayrides, carolling and more.
Try Out Snowshoeing
Have you ever tried your hand (err… foot) at snowshoeing? For something a little different, why not strap on some snowshoes and explore the trails at Pearce Estate Park, where you can get a lesson on proper techniques every Friday from November to March? The University of Calgary Outdoor Centre also offers a variety of snowshoeing programs, including guided day hikes and snowshoe camps.
Visit the Calgary Zoo
Did you know that the Calgary Zoo is open year-round? With many exhibits outdoors, you’ll be able to spend most of your day enjoying the fresh air while checking out the animals in their habitats. There are indoor exhibits as well, with masks required. Timed tickets must be purchased in advance. If you are looking for an extra special way to enjoy the zoo, don’t forget to check out Zoolights, which kicks off on November 20th. Amid two million twinkling lights, there’s tons of fun to be had, including skating, warming up at a fire pits, Rival Axe throwing, strolling down Lovers’ Lane, and a (physically-distanced) visit with Santa in his cabin!
What are your favourite things to do outside in the winter? Are you trying to avoid the crowds indoors or are you going with the flow? We’d love to hear in the comments!