Story Ideas

Five ways to celebrate the magic of winter in Alberta.

Wild Rose Country lets travellers embrace the snow and ice, from taking a team of sled dogs into the wilderness to carving your own beautiful ice sculpture.

19 November 2014

Suggested tweet: Ice, ice baby: five ways to celebrate the magic of winter in Alberta #explorecanada @TravelABMedia

Instead of slamming the door on winter, Albertans jump outside to embrace the opportunity to enjoy the snow and ice. Ice festivals bring people together to carve, skate and ski, while dog-sled excursions go deep into the forest to explore a winter wonderland like no other. Here are five ways travellers can join in the winter celebration.

Puck-er up: Pond hockey is just what it sounds like: hockey played on a frozen lake; and in Alberta there are lots of frozen lakes—scrape together a team and it’s game on, fast and fun. Check out the tournaments in February at Sylvan Lake,where a dozen rinks will be ready for teams to compete in friendly competition.  

It’s a carve-up: Make some magic on the shores of Lake Louise in Banff National Park during the annual Ice Magic Festival at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. International professional ice carvers converge in January to create mythical creatures, glimmering goddesses or storybook characters. Wander the snow path through the carvings then tie on some skates to glide with the Ice Queen through her ice palace on the lake. Try chipping your own sculpture at the festival in the village—it’s fun for the entire family.

Bring it on: The people of Edmonton don’t hide from the cold—they embrace it with festivals celebrating the frozen yet still striking landscape. Ice on Whyte is a 10-day festival with ice carvings and giant snow sculptures you can walk, climb and slide through. There’s also music, food and winter fashion shows. The Canadian Birkebeiner Ski Festival in February hosts thousands of cross-country skiers in races between 2.5 km (1.6 mi) and 55 km (35 mi) long. The celebration is full of Norwegian lore, entertainment and lots of hot chocolate.

Calling all you frozen gearheads: During the annual Winter Festival of Speed in February in the town of Lac La Biche, super-modified motorcycles, snowmobiles and cars take to the lake. It’s fast, frantic and fun. In between races, you can enjoy rides on horse-drawn sleighs. People with their own planes can also fly in and land on the lake.

Camp under the winter sky: Join Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours for the ultimate Canadian outdoor experience. Spend two days on The Ghosts of Fortune Mountain Tour commanding your own team of dogs over 80 km (50 mi) of wilderness. You take care of your team at the camp before enjoying a hearty gourmet dinner prepared by your guides. Afterwards, listen to legendary tales or meditate to the silent whisper of the wind through the trees. Then snuggle under thick blankets to fall swiftly to sleep. Wake to the sounds of the dogs hungry for breakfast and ready to run.

Looking for more visual inspiration from Alberta in winter? Browse our Brand Canada Library for thousands of images and videos from all over Canada.

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