12 Best Things to Do in Edmonton in Winter: From Skiing at Snow Valley to Festive Markets

by Jen
Best Things to Do in Edmonton in Winter
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Thinking of exploring Edmonton this winter? Here are some of the best attractions and things to do in Edmonton in winter. The city’s enchanting sights, vibrant activities, and charming attractions are sure to make your winter getaway an unforgettable experience.

Winter in Edmonton is something else, trust me. Imagine streets glittering with snow, the air crisp and filled with laughter, and everywhere you look, there’s something exciting to do. Ever walked through a castle made entirely of ice? Or how about zooming down a snowy hill with the city skyline in your view? That’s just a taste of what winter here offers in this beautiful place in Alberta.

I’ve spent many winters in Edmonton, and let me tell you, it never gets old. From the magical ice sculptures at the Ice Castles to the thrilling slopes at Snow Valley, there’s a world of adventure waiting. It’s not all outdoors, either. The city lights up with festivals and markets that bring everyone together, no matter the weather.

So, if you’re wondering what to do in Edmonton in winter, you’re in for a treat. I’m about to guide you through the best spots and activities that make winter here unforgettable. Ready to dive into a season full of fun and wonder? Let’s go!

The top places to visit in Edmonton in winter

Best places to visit in Edmonton in winter

Ready to discover the best winter attractions in Edmonton? From the magical Ice Castles to the lively atmosphere of the Silver Skate Festival, Edmonton offers a diverse array of winter delights.

Whether you’re gliding across the ice at Victoria Park Oval or joining a winter Segway tour through the River Valley, Edmonton in winter has something special for every traveler, making it one of the top places to live and visit in Canada. Here’s your ultimate guide to the top winter activities in this vibrant city. Let’s dive into Edmonton’s winter wonderland!

1. Explore the Ice Castles

Walking into the Ice Castles in Edmonton feels like stepping into another world. Seriously, it’s like all those fairytales with ice palaces weren’t just making things up. This place is real magic – the kind where you half-expect a snow queen to pop out. The first time I saw those towering ice walls and archways lit up in blues and greens, my jaw dropped. It’s that stunning.

I highly advise wearing your warmest boots and bringing a camera. Every corner of this place is begging for a photo. I made the rookie mistake of showing up in regular shoes once – big no-no. It’s chilly, but that’s part of the charm. You’re walking through a castle made entirely of ice, after all!

What I love most is how this place feels alive. You’ve got slides (yes, slides made of ice), tunnels that make you feel like a kid again, and sculptures that look like they took ages to make. And those fire pits scattered around? They’re lifesavers. Plus, they give you that perfect excuse to cozy up with someone special or share stories with friends.

For those looking for places to go in Edmonton in winter, especially with kids or loved ones, this place tops the list. Remember to dress warmly, though—the beauty of this ice kingdom comes with a chilly embrace.

Finish off with a hot cocoa from a nearby spot. Trust me, it tastes a hundred times better after you’ve been exploring a winter wonderland!

Exploring the Ice Castles is one of the best things to do in Edmonton in winter.
Edmonton’s Ice Castles: a real-life fairytale of magical ice walls and enchanting archways in stunning blues and greens. | Image Source: https://nuvomagazine.com/

2. Ski or Snowboard at Snow Valley

If you’re looking for fun things to do in Edmonton in winter, look no further than Snow Valley. It’s my go-to spot for when I need to scratch that itch for winter sports without leaving the city. I mean, who knew you could get such decent slopes right in your backyard?

The first time I strapped on my snowboard here, I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of runs. Whether you’re a beginner or someone who can shred in their sleep, there’s a slope for you. And the lift tickets? They won’t break the bank, which is always a plus in my book.

I recommend hitting the slopes during the week if you can. It’s less crowded, and you get more runs in. Plus, there’s something special about playing hooky for a day and having the place (almost) to yourself.

For those who don’t own gear, no sweat. The rental shop has everything you need and the staff are super helpful in getting you fitted. I always recommend a lesson for first-timers. The instructors are top-notch and will have you feeling confident on the snow in no time.

And here’s a pro tip from someone who’s ended too many days cold and soggy: invest in some good waterproof gear. It makes all the difference in enjoying your day to the fullest.

After a day on the slopes, the lodge is the perfect spot to warm up. Their hot chocolate is the bomb, and sipping it by the fireplace? Simply unbeatable.

Discover winter fun in Edmonton at Snow Valley—a city gem for satisfying your winter sports cravings.
Discover winter fun in Edmonton at Snow Valley—a city gem for satisfying your winter sports cravings.

3. Attend the Silver Skate Festival

There’s something truly magical about the Silver Skate Festival in Edmonton, and it’s not just the crisp winter air or the snow underfoot. This festival, held in February, is a winter extravaganza that brings together art, culture, recreation, and sports in a way that’s just… well, fun!

I stumbled upon this festival a few years back, and let me tell you, it was an instant love affair. Imagine a place where you can watch spellbinding fire sculptures, take part in snowshoe races, and then end the day with a mesmerizing heritage village tour, all in one spot.

For those looking for free things to do in Edmonton in winter, this is your golden ticket. The festival is packed with activities that won’t cost you a dime but will fill your day with joy. My personal favorite is the ice sculpture competition. Seeing what these artists can create with blocks of ice is nothing short of astonishing.

And let’s talk about the food. Winter festivals have a way of bringing out the best comfort foods, and the Silver Skate Festival is no exception. From steamy cups of hot cocoa to hearty bowls of stew, it’s a feast for the senses.

Make sure to bundle up, though. You’ll want to stay warm as you explore everything the festival has to offer. It’s a perfect way to experience the vibrancy of Edmonton in the winter, surrounded by the warmth of community and the glow of firelight.

Edmonton's Silver Skate Festival is where winter air meets art, culture, recreation, and sports for pure fun in February!
Edmonton’s Silver Skate Festival is where winter air meets art, culture, recreation, and sports for pure fun in February! | Image Source: https://www.stalbertgazette.com/

4. Skate on the Victoria Park Oval

One of my all-time favorite winter attractions in Edmonton has to be skating at the Victoria Park Oval. There’s something about gliding on the ice with the city skyline in the backdrop that feels like you’re in a snow globe. It’s classic winter fun, but with a view that beats any indoor rink hands down.

The ice here is always in top condition. They take really good care of it, so you’re not dodging cracks or rough patches. And the best part? It’s totally free. Just bring your skates and you’re good to go. If you don’t have a pair, rentals are available right on site, which is super convenient.

I always find skating here at night to be extra magical. The lights around the oval light up, and there’s a calmness that makes it feel like you have the whole place to yourself, even when you don’t. It’s the perfect setting for a date night or a peaceful solo skate to clear your mind.

Don’t worry about getting cold. There are fire pits to warm up by and, occasionally, hot chocolate stands pop up. Nothing beats that warm feeling as you sip on hot cocoa with your fingers thawing out from the cold.

Whether you’re there to show off your triple axel or you’re still a bit wobbly on the ice, Victoria Park Oval welcomes you with open arms. It’s these simple joys that make winter in Edmonton so special.

Gliding on ice at Victoria Park Oval is a classic fun with a skyline view – like a living snow globe!
Gliding on ice at Victoria Park Oval is a classic fun with a skyline view – like a living snow globe!

5. Join a Winter Segway Tour in the River Valley

Ever thought of exploring Edmonton’s River Valley on two wheels? Well, not just any wheels – Segway wheels. Joining a winter Segway tour has got to be one of the most unique things to do in Edmonton in winter. It’s a little bit of adventure mixed with a whole lot of scenic beauty, and trust me, it’s a blast.

I’ll admit, the first time I tried it, I was a bit wobbly. But the guides are fantastic at getting you comfortable before you know it. Dressed in my warmest gear, gliding through the snow-covered paths, I felt like I was part of an exclusive winter club. The River Valley is gorgeous any time of year, but with a blanket of snow, it’s truly something else.

I took a tour with River Valley Adventure Co., who I highly recommend. The tour takes you to some of the best spots in the valley that you might not discover on your own. We’re talking frozen waterfalls, ice-clad trees, and views of the city that’ll make you stop in your tracks. And because it’s a Segway, covering ground is effortless.

To cap off the tour, I love grabbing a bite at one of the local cafes nearby. There’s nothing like warming up with a hot soup or a hearty sandwich after a chilly but thrilling ride.

Explore Edmonton's River Valley in winter on Segway wheels—a unique and thrilling adventure with breathtaking scenic beauty.
Explore Edmonton’s River Valley in winter on Segway wheels—a unique and thrilling adventure with breathtaking scenic beauty.

6. Visit the Edmonton Valley (Ice) Zoo

For a twist on winter fun, the Edmonton Valley Zoo is an experience that stands out. It’s open year-round and truly becomes an ice zoo during the cold winter months.

Without a doubt, this zoo is one of the most fun places to visit in Edmonton in winter. Imagine strolling through an outdoor gallery where the exhibits are larger-than-life animals sculpted entirely from ice. It’s as cool as it sounds, trust me.

Each sculpture, from majestic ice lions to towering giraffes, is crafted with such detail you’ll be tempted to reach out and touch them (spoiler: they’re cold!). It’s a fantastic way to enjoy the outdoors, especially if you’re an animal lover or an art enthusiast. Plus, it’s a hit with kids, which makes it a family-friendly outing that entertains and amazes in equal measure.

The zoo comes alive with light installations as the sun sets, transforming the sculptures into glowing pieces of art. It feels like walking through a fantasy world. Dress warmly, though. Enjoying the zoo to its fullest means being comfortable in the chilly evening air.

One of my favorite parts? The interactive sessions where you can watch ice sculptors at work, chiseling away to create these icy wonders. It’s mesmerizing to see a block of ice turn into a work of art right before your eyes.

So, when you’re compiling your Edmonton things to do in winter list, make sure to include a trip to the Ice Zoo. I promise, you won’t regret it!

7. Take a Winter Walk in Elk Island National Park

If you’re searching for cool things to do in Edmonton during the winter, a walk in Elk Island National Park is the answer. This place is a paradise for nature lovers. The park offers a quiet escape from city life with its breathtaking landscapes and wildlife viewing opportunities.

The first time I ventured out here in the snow, it was like stepping into a postcard. The park’s trails become these serene paths through a winter wonderland, where the only sounds are your footsteps crunching on the snow and the occasional call of a distant bird. Remember to keep your eyes peeled for bison, elk, and other wildlife. They’re still around in winter, and spotting them against the snowy backdrop is truly special.

Dressing in layers is key. It lets you adapt to the day’s changing temperatures. And don’t forget a thermos of something warm—it makes taking breaks to enjoy the silence and beauty around you even more enjoyable.

For photographers or anyone who appreciates the quiet beauty of nature, this place is a dream. The frosty mornings when the fog hangs low over the fields, or the golden light of a winter afternoon, provide perfect conditions for capturing stunning shots.

Wrap up your visit with a stop at the visitor center. They often have hot drinks and snacks. Plus it’s a warm place to learn more about the park’s history and wildlife.

Elk Island National Park—a nature lover's paradise with breathtaking landscapes and wildlife.
Elk Island National Park—a nature lover’s paradise with breathtaking landscapes and wildlife.

8. Enjoy the Festive Lights at the Legislature Grounds

Heading to the Legislature Grounds for the festive lights is one of the best things to do in Edmonton during winter. It’s completely free and honestly, it turns a regular night out into something straight out of a holiday movie.

As soon as you step onto the grounds, it’s like entering a different world. Everything is lit up – trees, paths, you name it. It feels like walking through a tunnel of stars. It’s chilly, sure, but the lights and the buzz of people around make it all worth it.

Here’s a tip: don’t rush through. Take your time. The details in the light designs are amazing, especially when you really look. And, if you can, bring someone along. It’s one of those places where sharing the moment makes it ten times better.

Oh, and don’t forget to dress warmly. I learned the hard way my first time. Now, I always bring a thermos filled with something hot – hot chocolate or coffee. Trust me, sipping on something warm while you stroll makes the experience a whole lot cozier!

The best part? Sometimes you stumble upon spontaneous holiday performances. I’ve seen everything from carolers to brass bands. It adds a whole layer of magic to the evening.

So, wrap up warm, grab someone you enjoy spending time with, and make an evening out of it. It’s a simple pleasure, but those lights on a dark winter night? Pure magic.

Experience the magic at Legislature Grounds with festive lights—one of the best free winter activities in Edmonton.
Experience the magic at Legislature Grounds with festive lights—one of the best free winter activities in Edmonton.

9. Shop at a Christmas Market

Wondering where to go in Edmonton in the winter for some holiday shopping and festive vibes? The Old Strathcona Christmas Market is your answer. It’s like stepping into a holiday wonderland that’s bustling with cheer, crafts, and delicious treats.

I stumbled upon this gem a few years back and it instantly became my go-to for finding those perfect, unique gifts. The stalls are packed with handmade goodies, from knitted scarves to artisanal chocolates. It’s impossible to walk through without picking up something, whether it’s a gift for someone special or a treat for yourself.

But it’s more than shopping. There’s this incredible community feel, with local musicians adding to the ambiance and food vendors serving up everything from hot cider to gourmet burgers. My advice? Come hungry and ready to mingle. The market is a great spot to chat with locals and learn about the stories behind their crafts.

Dressing warmly is key, especially since you’ll want to take your time exploring every nook and cranny. And if you’re like me and always leave holiday shopping to the last minute, this market is a lifesaver. You’ll find gifts that are way cooler than your standard fare, and you’re supporting local artisans to boot.

After you’ve shopped to your heart’s content, take a moment to enjoy the surroundings. Old Strathcona is decked out in holiday style, and it’s the perfect backdrop for a winter stroll.

Get festive at the Old Strathcona Christmas Market—your go-to for holiday shopping, cheer, crafts, and delicious treats.
Get festive at the Old Strathcona Christmas Market—your go-to for holiday shopping, cheer, crafts, and delicious treats.

10. Warm Up at a Local Coffee Shop

After a day of snowy adventures, there’s nothing quite like finding refuge in a cozy local coffee shop. One of my absolute favorites is Little Brick Café and General Store. Located in the heart of the river valley, it’s the perfect spot for anyone looking to warm up and chill out in Edmonton during the winter.

Walking into Little Brick, you’re greeted by the smell of fresh coffee and the sound of friendly chatter. The vibe here is just right. Think warm lighting, rustic brick walls, and comfy seating that invites you to stay a while. It’s the kind of place where you can thaw out with a hot drink in hand, catching up on emails or diving into a good book.

Their coffee is top-notch. If you’re feeling hungry, you’ve got to try their homemade soups and sandwiches. Everything is delicious and made with a lot of love. Plus, supporting a local spot just feels good, especially when the weather outside is frightful.

What really sets Little Brick apart, though, is the sense of community. It’s not unusual to strike up a conversation with someone at the next table or find yourself listening to a local musician playing a set. It’s these little moments that make winter in Edmonton so special.

When the cold gets a bit too much and you’re wondering what to do in Edmonton on a wintry day, head over to Little Brick. It’s a warm hug in the form of a café.

Escape the snow at Little Brick Café—a cozy spot in Edmonton's river valley
Escape the snow at Little Brick Café—a cozy spot in Edmonton’s river valley

11. Experience the Flying Canoë Volant Festival

Got a thing for stories and a bit of night-time adventure? Then you can’t miss the Flying Canoë Volant Festival in Edmonton. It’s this incredible mix of history, culture, and outdoor fun that lights up the winter nights like nothing else. It’s usually held at the start of February.

The festival is based on a cool legend about a flying canoe. Yes, you read that right. Walking through it feels like stepping straight into a storybook. Each turn of the path offers something new: captivating light installations, live music, and interactive art pieces that make the legend come alive.

I remember my first time there. I was bundled up like a marshmallow, but totally forgot the cold the moment I got sucked into the stories and the music. The whole place buzzes with energy, and the light installations? Absolutely magical.

You’ve got to check out the canoe races. Watching teams try to steer their canoes through the snow is just as fun as it sounds. Makes you appreciate the warmth of a good hot chocolate afterward, which, by the way, you’ll find plenty of there.

A little tip from me: don’t just walk around. Talk to the storytellers, listen to the musicians, and really get into it. They bring the whole legend to life and trust me, it’s a whole different experience when you dive in.

The Flying Canoë Volant Festival is one of the best attractions in Edmonton in the winter. It’s cold, yeah, but with stories to warm you up, lights to guide your way, and a bit of hot cider in your hand, it’s an adventure you won’t forget.

Don't miss the Flying Canoë Volant Festival for a magical blend of history, culture, and outdoor night-time adventure.
Don’t miss the Flying Canoë Volant Festival for a magical blend of history, culture, and outdoor night-time adventure. | Image Source: https://www.flyingcanoevolant.ca/

12. Go Tobogganing at Gallagher Park

For anyone looking for fun places to visit in Edmonton during the winter, Gallagher Park is a must for tobogganing. It’s one of those pure, joy-filled activities that remind you of being a kid again. The first time I hit the slopes here, I couldn’t stop laughing. It’s just you, a sled, and a hill of snow – simple but so much fun.

Gallagher Park has this perfect hill that’s not too steep for the little ones but still gives enough of a thrill for the ‘big kids’ among us. Plus, the view of the city skyline as you zoom down is pretty unbeatable. It’s a popular spot, so you get this great mix of families, teens, and adults, all there to enjoy the ride.

Here’s a tip from someone who’s done their fair share of tobogganing: make sure your sled is up for the job. Those flimsy ones might be tempting, but something a bit sturdier will give you a smoother ride. And, hey, don’t forget a helmet. Safety first, even when you’re having fun.

After a few runs, when you’re all laughed out and maybe a bit chilly, there’s nothing better than heading home, peeling off the wet gloves and boots, and warming up with a hot drink. It’s that perfect end to a day spent embracing the winter outdoors.

Tobogganing at Gallagher Park is one of those winter activities in Edmonton that brings everyone together. It’s a reminder of how the best things in life are often the simplest ones.

Gallagher Park is one of the best things to do in Edmonton in winter.
Experience pure joy at Gallagher Park in winter—a must-visit for tobogganing in Edmonton. | Image Source: https://www.edmonton.ca/

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the best things to do in Edmonton in winter:

Looking for more content on the top things to do in Edmonton in the winter? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to one of Canada’s most beautiful places.

Is Edmonton worth visiting in winter?

100%. Edmonton in winter is a whole vibe, especially if you’re looking for the best place to visit in winter. You get this mix of cool outdoor activities like the Ice Castles and winter festivals that you won’t find anywhere else. Plus, the city has this cozy feel with coffee shops and markets that make it perfect for winter exploring. If you’re into snow and don’t mind bundling up, you’ll find something unique here.

Are winters harsh in Edmonton?

Winters can be harsh in Edmonton. The winters here mean business with cold temperatures and snow. But it’s all about dressing right. Layer up, invest in a good coat, and you’ll actually start to enjoy the crisp air. Plus, the city does a great job of clearing streets and sidewalks, making it a consideration for where to stay in Canada. Getting around isn’t as tough as you might think.

Winter scene in Edmonton, Alberta
Winter scene in Edmonton, Alberta

What month is the coldest in Edmonton?

January is usually the coldest month in Edmonton. It can get pretty chilly, with temperatures often dipping below freezing. It’s the kind of cold that makes your nose hairs freeze the moment you step outside. But it’s also really beautiful, especially right after a snowfall when everything is quiet and covered in white.

What is the best time to visit Edmonton, Canada?

For winter lovers, December to February is the best time to visit Edmonton, ideal for those flying to Canada. You’ll catch all the winter festivities, the snow is perfect for outdoor sports, and the city has a festive vibe. If you’re not a fan of the cold, aim for late spring or summer when the weather is warmer. You can enjoy the city’s parks and festivals without the winter gear.

The top things to do in Edmonton in winter for all types of travelers
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