The weather may be dreary, but Alberta is anything but dull during the cold months. Check out these activities and attractions that’ll turn your winter blahs into oohs and ahs.
COOL YOUR HEELS IN AN ICE CASTLE, EDMONTON
You’ll have to chill out to get your hands on the hottest ticket in town. Once again, Edmonton’s William Hawrelak Park is home to Ice Castles, a temporary installation comprising millions of icicles. The massive structure changes shape as layers of icicles are added (up to 5,000 each day) and “carved” by the elements, such as wind and snow. At night, the castle glows in a rainbow of colours, but it’s just as impressive during the day when the dense ice walls give off a blue hue. Jan.–Mar.
TAKE A MOUNTAIN VACATION, JASPER
The annual Jasper in January festival encourages participants to explore the mountain town’s pristine wilderness, as well as its urban sights, sounds and tastes. Show off your speed at the opening-weekend fat bike races, join a nighttime snowshoeing tour, embark on a brewery tour, and that’s just for starters. A handful of the events, such as snowshoeing and movie night, are free so take advantage of as many activities as you can. Book a room through AMA Travel and get the best price guaranteed. Jan. 11–28
RELIVE THE ‘80S, CAMROSE
While a time machine hasn’t yet been invented to transport you back through the years, you can still relive the ’80s for one night this winter, when Canadian alt-rock band 54-40 plays its hits—”Ocean Pearl,” “Go Blind,” “Love You All,” “One Guy” and many more—at Camrose’s Cargill Theatre. Jan. 19
PLAN A THEATRICAL NIGHT OUT, CALGARY
Jubilations Dinner Theatre’s production, The Jailhouse Rocks: Orange is the New Black, wraps up its Edmonton run on January 20, then heads south to Calgary. This G-rated musical imagines what it would be like if a New York socialite ends up in the clink and trades her pink party dress for an orange jumpsuit. The musical is set to a selection of Billboard chart-toppers that are guaranteed to keep you singing along all night long. Members save up to $25 on general admission tickets and can earn $5 in reward dollars per ticket. Feb. 9–Apr. 15
CHEER ON ALBERTA ATHLETES, FORT MCMURRAY
We don’t know about you, but we love a good sports competition, and that’s where the 2018 Alberta Winter Games comes in. This action-packed, snow-covered affair, taking place in Wood Buffalo, includes figure skating, hockey, speed skating, curling, volleyball and so much more. Put on your long johns and get ready to cheer on hundreds of athletes (ages 11-17) from across the province. Opening ceremonies take place Feb. 16 at the Shell Place Baseball Stadium. Feb. 16–19
GET HOOKED ON FISHING, CALGARY
If you’re angling for a fishing adventure closer to home, the Bow Habitat Station in Calgary celebrates Family Day with its annual Family Fishtival. Enjoy a fun-filled day of outdoor (and indoor) activities, including magnetic fishing games, marshmallow roasting, snowshoeing around the wetlands and identifying wildlife tracks. Outdoor activities are free. Indoor activities are $5 per person. Feb. 17
SPEND AN EVENING WITH A CANADIAN SINGER, MEDICINE HAT
You’ll totally be “Stompa” your feet when Serena Ryder hits the stage of the Esplanade Arts and Heritage Centre. The critically acclaimed singer and songwriter—whose hits include “What I Wouldn’t Do,” “Got Your Number” and “Electric Love,” to name but a few—is sure to bring down the house with her new band. Feb. 23
CELEBRATE FRENCH AND FIRST NATIONS’ CULTURE, CALGARY
The annual Calgary Maple Festival des Sucres celebrates Alberta’s Francophone, Métis and First Nations history. The event at Heritage Park features all manner of old-fashioned family fun, including live music and folk dancing, Métis finger weaving, a lumberjack show, historical exhibitions and, true to the festival’s name, lots of maple syrupy treats. The traditional sugar shack brunch is a definite highlight. March 3 & 4
WATCH A THRILLING ICE RACE, EDMONTON
Dubbed the world’s fastest sport on skates, ice cross downhill is a thrilling combination of hockey, boardercross and downhill skiing. Get a firsthand glimpse of the action when the Red Bull Crashed Ice series returns to Edmonton for the first time in three years. Alberta’s capital is the only Canadian Crashed Ice stop—and the last race in this year’s series, following events in Minnesota, Finland and France. Expect a rollicking spectacle as skaters from around the world showcase their skills and endurance while racing down a one-of-a-kind ice track. First one to the bottom wins! March 9 & 10
HIT THE SLOPES, RED DEER
If exercise is nature’s stress reliever, then hitting the slopes at Canyon Ski Resort might be the cure for the winter blahs. The 28-hectare resort is located in a valley along the Red Deer River and boasts a vertical drop that’s almost double that of most local hills. About half of the 18 runs are black diamonds, favouring intermediate and advanced skiers. There’s also night skiing Wednesdays through Fridays. AMA members save 10% on all full-day passes at Canyon Ski Resort.
PASS GO AND COLLECT $200, RED DEER
If you’re game for some old-school fun, leave your smartphones and consoles at home and head out to board game café. Every Monday evening in Red Deer, Bower Ponds hosts a game night where you can take your pick from more than 200 games. Competitive types can join the Bower Ponds board game league and collect points throughout the year to earn prizes.