Insect inspectors at the Royal Alberta Museum

Things to Do in Alberta: February and Family Day 2020

By Tom Murray

The weather outside might be frightful, but events across Alberta this month are delightful. Here are a few fun winter activities to check out—especially for the Family Day (February 17) long weekend.

Are you a fan of shutterbugs? Local and international talents are on display at the Exposure Photography Festival (Jan. 31 to Feb. 29), taking place in various venues throughout Calgary. Free and ticketed events include panels discussions, an artist talk with Alberta photographer Boon Ong, and a “photo inspiration night” at Calgary’s Central Library.

Embrace winter’s icy grip at the Silver Skate Festival (Feb. 7 to 17) at Edmonton’s Hawrelak Park. The 10-day celebration offers an entertaining jumble of sport, art, culture and food, with this year’s 30th-anniversary edition adding a series of nightly longtable dinners in trapper’s tents, presided over by acclaimed prairie chefs. Yum!

Life provides precious few opportunities for a person to throw an axe and then launch themselves down an illuminated ice slide. Thankfully, Calgary’s Glow Winter Light Festival (Feb. 14 to 16) rectifies that situation. The Family Day weekend event along Stephen Avenue also offers three stages worth of live music, outdoor patios, bonfires, ice sculptures and more.

things to do alberta family day 2020
Edmonton’s Silver Skate Festival (photo: Travel Alberta)

Likewise, the Winter Family Festival (Feb. 16) brings families together in south Calgary. The outdoor event at South Glenmore Park warms hearts and bodies with creative activities, snowshoe excursions, a live DJ—plus well-deserved downtime in front of roaring fire pits.

Grand Prairie families can enjoy some quality time as both the Eastlink and Coca Cola centres open their doors to fun on February 16. Kids are well taken care of with an array of activities, while everyone can partake in the musical entertainment, refreshments, and appearances by members of the Grande Prairie Storm hockey team.

Fossils, bugs, and bears; who wouldn’t want to spend an afternoon investigating the wonders of nature? You can do just that at the Royal Alberta Museum, which is offering free admission on February 17. The natural history exhibits are fascinating, but make sure to leave some time for the young ‘uns to get hands-on at the Children’s Gallery, too.

Want to discover exactly what “human curling” is? Head down to the Canmore Winter Carnival (Feb. 28 to March 1) to see the wild and wacky action for yourself. The town-favourite good time, occurring in and around the Civic Centre plaza, also features log-sawing competitions, kids’ ice carving and a beaver tail eating contest.

things to do alberta family day 2020
Cheering on the dogsledders at Canmore’s Winter Carnival (photo: Canmore Kananaskis Tourism)

Humans, meet nature; nature, meet humans. At the Helen Schuler Nature Centre in Lethbridge, you’ll make the acquaintance of an 80-hectare nature preserve—and, if you’re lucky, some of its varied denizens, including songbirds, deer, beavers and many more creatures. Indoors, you’ll also discover exhibits on owls, the river valley and other important natural topics.

It’s not just people who benefit from daily exercise. Waterfowl also need to stretch their legs (and wings). That’s why the fine animal lovers at the Calgary Zoo send its king penguin colony off on a daily walk—you know, to get the kinks out. The 11 a.m. stroll near the Penguin Plunge is contingent on weather conditions, but happens more often than not; check the zoo’s website for updates on the day you want to visit.

While most Albertans have numerous opportunities to slip on a pair of snowshoes in (or just outside) their own towns, there’s something magical about doing it in Jasper National Park. Not just because of the solitude of the Maligne Lake, Pyramid Bench and Icefields Parkway trails, but also because of the breathtaking views to be found on many of the loops. Choose the route best suited to your abilities, breathe in that fresh mountain air, and just go! AMA members save up to $10 on annual family or senior Parks Canada Discovery passes purchased at any AMA centre.