A family sets out on cross-country skis at the Canmore Nordic Centre (photo: Canmore Kananaskis Tourism)

Things to Do in Alberta: February 2021

By Craig Moy

With winter in full force (and COVID-19 still circulating), Albertans can be forgiven for just wanting to hunker down, cozy up. But Family Day on February 15 gives us a great reason to enjoy each other’s company, both inside at home and in the great outdoors—which can still be safely experienced in many ways, despite the cold. Whether you want to take in a theatrical production from the comfort of your living room or get your blood pumping on a fat bike or cross-country ski adventure, there are many excellent things to do in Alberta this month.

Once you’ve pulled that sourdough bread out of the oven and helped the kids finish their latest pillow fort, some unique entertainment options beckon online.

Appreciating our provincial home from the comfort of your home is fun and easy with online activities like downloadable colouring pages of local heritage buildings, courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Alberta. Or you can take a virtual stroll through Alberta forests, narrated by Edmonton’s own Nathan Fillion.

The Royal Alberta Museum helps you scratch a crafting itch. Musically inclined makers can follow along with a tutorial for constructing a cookie-tin banjo, or you can get your sketch on by exploring the RAM’s virtual collection: rotate and zoom in on 3D models of animal skulls, minerals, Indigenous clothes and more to get the best angle for your new masterpiece.

In the mood for something more dramatic? Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre is streaming two of its newest productions for at-home viewing. Mary’s Wedding offers a love story stretching from the Alberta prairies to the battlegrounds of World War I, while Heaven—written by AMA member Cheryl Foggo—tells of a Black schoolteacher in the 1920s, who immigrates to northern Alberta in search of a better life.

Of course, we all need fresh air and exercise, even as winter’s chill continues to bite. Fortunately all our seasonal-favourite activities remain doable—with masks on and physical-distancing guidelines respected.

Strap on your skates for a few spins around the IceWays at Rundle and Victoria parks in Edmonton, or try out an ice bike—a mashup of bicycle frame and sled that runs on pedal power—at Calgary’s Bowness Park skating trail. And if you’re up for a wintry road trip, there’s always Rockies-ringed Lake Louise, one of the most beautiful natural skating rinks in the world.

Prefer to tame the ice with a pair of axes instead of blades? Book a climbing session at the Edmonton Ski Club’s new ice wall. With your partner keeping watch, use your rented picks and crampons to scale the slippery three-storey structure. Or if you’d rather enjoy a swift descent, schedule a few runs at the club’s snow tubing park instead.

To really get your blood pumping, try cross-country skiing. There aren’t many better ways to enjoy the beauty of nature while also getting gym-worthy workout. Sites including the Strathcona Wilderness Centre, University of Calgary Outdoor Centre and the Canmore Nordic Centre offer rentals and lessons for Albertans who are new to the invigorating sport.

You needn’t let winter weather stop you from continuing to enjoy a favourite summer sport, either. Fat biking is growing in popularity up and down the Rockies, with outfitters from Jasper to Kananaskis offering rentals of the specialized mountain bikes whose extra-wide tires offer strong traction on ice and snow.

After all that exercise, it’s time to wind down at the summit of Sulphur Mountain. The Banff Gondola’s Alpenglow Experience takes you for an evening ascent—to watch the sun set behind the peaks, enjoy a cocktail and s’mores by an outdoor fire and then gaze up at the stars.

Though we can’t currently gather in large groups, Valentine’s Day still affords us the chance to show affection to loved ones. And AMA members can order the holiday’s traditional tokens for less! From chocolate-dipped strawberries to “love blossoms” bark, Rocky Mountain Chocolate knows the sweetest way to everyone’s heart (save 10% online and in-store), while Edmonton’s Studio Bloom has beautiful bouquets to order by phone (save 10%). Or go big with bling from Paris Jewellers: Whether you’re gifting a discrete pendant necklace or popping the question with a diamond engagement ring, you’ll save 25% on in-stock jewellery, plus 10% on custom designs and special orders.