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Things to Do in Alberta: January 2023

By Allison Bench

Happy 2023 to all! It’s time to kick off a fresh new year, and we’ve got some great ideas for you to start this January with a bang.

Dine outdoors

While Alberta is in the midst of our chilliest season, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a patio. Yes, you read that right—a patio. That’s because many restaurants, bars and pubs around the province run winter patio services. Whether you’re warm and cozy in a heated outdoor dome or enjoying the crackle of a fire on a tucked-away patio, there are many ways that foodies and cocktail lovers can still sip and sample in the great outdoors. Check out our roundup of outdoor dining spots around Alberta this winter.

Prep for wedding season

January is the time to look forward to the upcoming year. If you’re planning to tie the knot—or you have a friend or family member who is—spend some time getting caught up on all the trends. The Wedding Fair takes place in Edmonton on Jan. 15 and then heads down to Calgary on Jan. 22. The fair promises to have everything you need under one roof to plan a wedding—and a honeymoon! In Central Alberta, Red Deer hosts a wine and cake-tasting event that will help people connect with local vendors.

Dip into hot water

Ward off the chills by treating yourself to a “me day” at the Kananaskis Nordic Spa. Nestled in Alberta’s Rockies, the Nordic Spa offers a rejuvenating hot-and-cold water cycle year-round. You start your experience in a hot tub or sauna, which is said to reduce blood pressure and stimulate blood flow. Then, chill out in one of the facility’s cold pools to stimulate your blood pressure—or if it’s cold enough outside, you can include that signature Alberta chill as part of the experience.

Another option in Alberta is the Banff Upper Hot Springs, which is open year-round for visitors. The natural hot spring is nestled right in the mountains and offers some incredible alpine views while you have a soothing swim. Plus, you can also soak up the savings by using your AMA card—which will get you 15% off admission!

Celebrate the Year of the Rabbit

The Lunar New Year takes place on Sunday, Jan. 22, a significant holiday for Chinese Canadians. There are more than 177,000 Albertans with Chinese heritage, and many communities have planned celebrations to mark the Year of the Rabbit. The festivities usher in luck for the new year and often include food, a dragon dance, and other traditions like creating Spring couple poems.

The Edmonton Chinatown Multicultural Centre hosts a special two-day event at West Edmonton Mall every year. The 2023 Lunar New Year’s Fair Flower Market takes place Jan. 7 and 8 at WEM’s Mayfield Toyota Ice Palace. Calgary’s Chinese Cultural Centre also plans a multi-day celebration for the Lunar New Year. The centre transforms into a bustling celebration space for two weekends of its Chinese New Year Festival: Jan. 14 and 15, plus Jan. 21 and 22.

Contact your local Chinese cultural society for Lunar New Year celebrations in other cities.  

Try out some local pairings

Alberta has a thriving local beer scene. It seems like mouth-watering beers are being brewed in almost every corner of the province, and January is an excellent time for sipping those suds and dining at special dinner events at several breweries. Grande Prairie’s Grain Bin brewery has partnered with Maddhatters restaurant to offer an all-local beer and food tasting on Jan. 19. In Red Deer, tuck in for a night of paired barbeque and Red Hart Brewing beers at Memphis Blues BBQ—also on Jan. 19. If the sweet stuff is more your jam, Calgary’s Winter Freeze tasting event on Jan. 21 combines ice cream with beer, wine and spirits.

It’s a winter wonderland

Through winter, there are many ways we Albertans cope with the cold. One option is to celebrate it. And luckily, that’s not too difficult, because numerous winter festivals are happening this January.

If the mountains are your jam, head to the annual SnowDays celebration in Banff from Jan. 18 to 29, which sees giant snow sculptures taking over the city. In Edmonton, the Deep Freeze: A Byzantine Winter Festival combines winter panache with food and art—and even a race in actual deep freezers—from Jan. 21 to 22. Grande Prairie plays host to the Grande North Winter Festival from Jan. 13 to 15, and in Lethbridge, the Winter Lights Festival (which kicked off on Nov. 30) runs all through January, so it’s a great option if you’re still looking for some festive feels.