Instead of dreading that first snowfall in Canada, get outside and embrace the winter season. During the winter months, Canada turns into a winter wonderland. Canadians know how to beat the winter blues. Once you learn how to dress for cold weather, you’ll find that there are plenty of things to do in winter in Canada that make it worth heading up North for the holidays. So instead of hibernating this winter get outside and start planning a winter trip to Canada. Don’t forget to bundle up!
Go Skiing and Snowboarding
Canada is blessed with some of the best locations for downhill skiing and snowboarding in the world. In addition to the beautiful snow-capped mountains, visitors can also check illustrious ski resorts that offer excellent accommodation and facilities that complement the outdoor fun. Canada has some of the best ski resorts on earth from Whistler Blackcomb to Mont Tremblant, you can downhill ski in Canada from coast to coast!
You can have the best skiing and snowboarding experience between Alberta and British Columbia, on the west coast of Canada with the most popular being Whistler Blackcomb, Revelstoke, Sun Peaks, and Big White in BC. When skiing in Alberta, Lake Louise in Banff National Park is the premier ski resort but other great ski resorts include Sunshine Village and Marmot Basin. In eastern Canada, Quebec is the place of choice with Mont-Tremblant, Mont Saint Anne, and Le Massif being favourites. And right here in Ontario, we love a weekend getaway to Blue Mountain too!
Cross country skiing is also very popular with Canadians. You can do this winter sport in Canada nearly anywhere and most ski resorts offer it as well. If you aren’t ready for downhill skiing, give X-country skiing a try. It’s fun for the whole family. For a truly unique Canadian winter adventure, try skijoring. It mixes skiing with dogsledding and is a rip-roaring good time. We went skijoring just outside of Canmore Alberta and it was incredible. Read more Alberta travels here: The 52 Best Things to do in Alberta, Canada – The Ultimate Guide
Watch the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)
The Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights, is a natural display of light in the night sky. This phenomenon is only visible in the Northern Hemisphere. The native Cree People called the Auroras “The Dance of the Spirits”. It will cost you nothing to gaze at the beautiful Aurora Borealis and there are plenty of places to see the Northern Lights dance when you visit Canada in winter. We saw beautiful northern lights in Jasper and Churchill
Where to See Northern Lights in Canada
Head to Yellowknife, Goose Bay in Labrador, the shores of Hudson Bay in Manitoba, and the prairie provinces of Canada to get the best view of the Aurora Borealis. We’ve also seen exceptional Northern Lights in Alberta around Jasper National Park and Banff National Park. And we watched the auroras every night while searching for polar bears with Churchill Wild.
Skate on the Rideau Canal
Ice skating on the Rideau Canal is one of the most iconic things you can do in winter in Canada. Usually, the skating season on the UNESCO World Heritage Site begins during Winterlude, Ottawa’s winter carnival. You can rent skates and hop on the world’s largest skating rink. It stretches for miles with warming stations, where you can sample frozen maple syrup and beavertails with plenty of fun adventures along the Rideau Canal that runs through the city of Ottawa.
Speaking of Winterlude, Canada has plenty of winter carnivals to attend. When the days grow shorter and colder, Canadians love to get outdoors to celebrate with lights, ice sculptures, and winter activities. Throughout the winter, you’ll find winter carnivals in every province. Our favorite is Winterlude in Ottawa.
We’ve attended it several times taking advantage of all the winter fun including snow tubing, the ice bar at Andaz, the winter zipline network in Gatineau, and exploring all the ice formations and ice sculptures. Another great place to go ziplining in the winter is at the Marble Mountain Ski Resort in Newfoundland and Labrador. (We haven’t been there yet, but it’s on our list!)
Carnivale Quebec City
Quebec City has the famous Carnivale winter carnival. This UNESCO World Heritage City truly comes alive in winter. The old city is transformed into a winter wonderland that feels frozen in time. You can visit the famous Ice Hotel and have a drink at the ice bar. Opening in 2001, it was North America’s first Ice Hotel and you can watch ice sculpture competitions. Make sure to visit North America’s most European City in the winter. We loved our winter stay in Quebec City.