Exciting Winter Activities and Attractions in Calgary

Image for article: Exciting Winter Activities and Attractions in Calgary

Lots of sunshine and crispy snow. Calgary offers everything you need for a winter holiday. At least if you can survive the low temperatures. One of the largest cities in Canada, the venue of the Olympics games in 1988, a place so far north you can see Aurora Borealis, a largely overseen city with a picturesque downtown, plenty of winter festivals and a vast offer of winter activities, Calgary is the place for exciting winter adventures. Come explore the city with us!

Know Before You Go: Hidden Gem in Alberta

The biggest city of Alberta merges the old and the new. Surrounded by the mountains, Calgary lies in the middle of the Canadian largest beef-cattle-producing area. You might have heard of its nickname – Cow Town. Many city inhabitants still enjoy the cowboy style of clothing, with high boots and Stetson hats. But Calgary has much more to offer, from winter sports to cultural events. The city is truly young and multicultural, with people of about 240 ethnic origins and an average age of 37 years. 

When going on a trip, plan accordingly. Pack some proper winter apparel for skating and skiing and add some trendy women's clothing or men´s city casual outfit for festivals and events. Don’t forget that Alberta gets very chilly during the winter months!

Get a Bigger Picture from the Calgary Tower

Start your trip with a glimpse of the city. The Calgary Tower offers the best bird-eye views of Calgary sights and parks. Originally named the Husky Tower, the tower was built in 1968 (although the original plan was to open the tower one year earlier to celebrate the Canadian centennial). With 190 m, the tower was built as the tallest building in Calgary and the second tallest in Canada (after Toronto). Today, you can visit the observation deck, see the city below you through the glass floor (great opportunity for Instagram pictures!) or spend a romantic evening in the revolving restaurant while enjoying the city lights and a great menu.

Go Cross-country Skiing in the Park

The city offers over 25 km of groomed cross-country trails. Shaganappi Point provides stunning views of the city skyline. If you don’t fancy cross-country, you can try snowshoeing here. Lake View Golf Course offers – as its name suggests – picturesque views of the Glenmore reservoir. The trail has some ups and downs that can provide you with good physical activity. Bowness Park offers not only a groomed trail but also ice biking on the frozen lagoon. If you need proper skiing experience, an hour's drive from the city will get you to the West Bragg Creek Provincial Recreation Area with great nature and about 60 km of groomed trails. Definitely worth a ride. If you lack equipment, stop by one of many Canadian shopping malls that sell a great choice of winter apparel.

Go Ice-skating and Have a Hot Chocolate 

Nothing represents a winter city experience more than public skating followed by a large mug of hot chocolate. Calgary offers several ice-skating rings. Olympic Plaza is located downtown. It’s a perfect spot for a romantic date with evening skiing and an afterwards bite. Skate rental and sharpening are available on-site. University of Calgary Olympic Oval is designed for real sportsmen! Enjoy the 400m track. For nature lovers, Bowness Park Lagoon is the to-go spot. Bring your own gear and skate for free or rent your skates at the rental.

Visit Exciting Winter Festivals 

Winter festivals in Canada are truly special. Calgary is no exception. From live music to ice sculptures, you can have it all. Music lovers from Canada and abroad come for the famous BIG Winter Classic music festival. Each year offers a diverse lineup spanning from grunge to country music. While listening to great music, you can enjoy local beer and visual arts. The festival takes place in January in various venues.

Those who come in February shouldn’t miss the Chinese New Year festivities.  The Chinese community of Calgary puts together the Chinatown Ice Sculpture Showcase. Enjoy life-size ice sculptures inspired by the year of the Rabbit while walking through the streets of exotic Chinatown. 

For more ice sculptures, drive to Canmore Ice Magic Festival. Although postponed this year, you can still see local carvers in action. In 2024, the festival will return with carving competitions and other fun activities. If you enjoy sports activities, a short drive from Calgary can take you to the Winterstart Festival, a fun event full of ice skating, snowshoeing, or skiing. Enjoy winter sports and live music and other performances in Banff.

Explore Museums: From Elton John´s Piano to Gasoline Alley

Studio Bell hosts the National Music Centre, a museum focused on the history of Canadian music. The collection includes over 2.000 instruments and artifacts, including Elton John´s piano or the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio. The museum also organizes educational programmes, exhibitions, performances, and residence programmes. For more Canadian history, visit Heritage Park. Although the main part of the park is closed during winter, there are still many winter activities to explore. The Gasoline Alley Museum (part of the park) celebrates the golden age of the automobile industry. The collection includes restored gas pumps and restored trucks. The museum is kids-friendly, with arts and crafts in the family gallery.

Banff Upper Hot Springs Offer Great Relax After Skiing 

Soaked in steaming water, you observe snowy caps of mountains. Winter paradise. The healing power of hot springs was already discovered by indigenous people living in this area. Don’t get appalled by the sulphur smell: it´s part of the experience. The springs have changing rooms, lockers, and rental towels. The stay is limited to 60 minutes. The entry fee is $16.50 per adult. Parking is limited near the springs: plan accordingly.

Relax In a Shopping Mall 

In case you forgot to pack something, Calgary has you covered. Local shopping malls provide a great shopping and dining experience. East Hills Shopping Centre is located on the outskirts of the city, just a 20 min. drive from the centre. You can replenish your wardrobe at Marshalls, Tim Hortons, or at Walmart, have a coffee, or visit a barber shop. Ashton Square in Calgary offers good dining and shopping options. Conveniently situated near Deerfoot Trail, this smaller shopping centre hosts restaurants, nail salons and barbershops.

Be Amazed by The Colours of the Aurora Borealis 

The city is located north enough to observe this nature's wonder. You can spot northern lights even in the very city if you are lucky. The best way to watch aurora is in Nose Hill Park. To get your chances higher, drive to the nearby Mount Yamnuska (an hour's drive from Calgary), listed among the 29 best spots in Canada where to observe the northern lights. To catch the right moment, join the Aurora Watch alert or follow the Aurora Forecast. Your chances will be high from September till May, as this is the best time to catch northern lights. Good luck!

Read more: latest articles

The Ultimate Guide to Exploring Canada's National Parks

The Ultimate Guide to Exploring Canada's National Parks

Are you ready for THE adventure of a lifetime? Canadian road trip through the famous national parks is a dream come true... more

10 Things to Do on Prince Edward Island on a Rainy Day

10 Things to Do on Prince Edward Island on a Rainy Day

Prince Edward Island is famous for its sandy beaches and beautiful nature. But even on a rainy day, the island offers ex... more

Places to Visit While Staying in Alberta

Places to Visit While Staying in Alberta

Northern lights over snow-capped mountains. Surreal lakes with methane bubbles. Cowboys in Stetsons conquering bulls. Mo... more

How to Keep Your Kids Busy During March Break

How to Keep Your Kids Busy During March Break

March break is here, but you haven't prepared any activities. Before you start thinking about downloading a bunch of car... more