Time to snow down

Winter is a time for enjoying Canada’s crisp air and beautiful scenery – and to let the majesty of the season dissipate any worries and heighten the senses, says Rupert Parker

Snowshoes in Silence

Strap a pair of snowshoes to your feet and see the imagined boundaries of winter just drift away. No matter your age or fitness level it is a fun activity that’s easy to learn – and you’ll be enveloped in a world of silence broken only by the sounds of nature.

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Time for coffee during a break from snowshoeing

With its stunning mountain scenery, Alberta’s Banff National Park has several trails that vary in length. Head to Johnston Canyon and Lake Louise for some diverse snowshoeing experiences amidst towering peaks. There are plenty of places around Banff and Lake Louise that offer snowshoes and equipment for rent. 

In Québec, Gatineau Park (just a short drive from Ottawa) has an extensive network of trails that explore frozen lakes and dense forests that lead to stunning lookouts.

Scandinavian Spas

Immerse yourself in the cosy rejuvenating and health-giving experience of a Scandinavian spa. Inspired by the Nordic tradition of hydrotherapy and relaxation, these tranquil oases offer an escape from the cold and a chance to embrace the serenity of winter. In the heart of the Laurentians, the Scandinave Spa in Mont-Tremblant allows you to soak in a wood-fired hot tub while snowflakes fall around you.  Alternate between warming up the body in one of the hot installations, such as a dry Finnish sauna or a Norwegian steam bath, before rinsing in cold water or taking a cold plunge (there is year-round access to the river).

In the Canadian Rockies, Kananaskis Nordic Spa has outdoor hydrotherapy pools, steam cabins, and saunas with views of snow-capped peaks.

Ice Yoga

In Central Canada, Yoga on ice is gaining traction among Winnipeggers. Performing the ‘downward dog’ on a frozen lake is something that most people haven’t tried but provides the ultimate Instagram moment — except you might be feeling too ‘Zen’ to pick up your phone.

FortWhyte Alive, a reclaimed wildlife reserve in the south of the city, runs classes on frozen Lake Cargill and has a cosy cabin on the shores where you can enjoy an afternoon of yoga and mindfulness.

Aurora Close Encounters

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Chasing the lights in Manitoba: image by Roam Creative

Canada is one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights. The country’s northern location, clear skies and low light pollution make it ideal for viewing this natural phenomenon.
The best time is during the Autumn and Winter months, from September to April, when the nights are long and dark.

Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories and Churchill in Manitoba are renowned for their clear skies and aurora borealis displays.

Gazing up at those unforgettable dancing lights in the frigid northern air is an unforgettable and perhaps even spiritual encounter with the natural world.

Hot Springs Soak

Canada boasts numerous natural hot springs tucked away in picturesque settings.

These include Banff Upper Hot Springs in Alberta and Harrison Hot Springs in British Columbia, which offer an opportunity to relax in warm, mineral-rich waters while surrounded by snow-covered mountains.

Soaking in a hot spring is a great way to relax and rejuvenate.

The waters help to soothe sore muscles, improve circulation, and boost the immune system and is the perfect way to unwind and de-stress during the colder months.

Icefields Drive

The Icefields Parkway in Alberta, one of the world’s most scenic drives, showcases exquisite and otherworldly scenery as it takes you along the 230-kilometre stretch between Lake Louise and Jasper.

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Winter zen at Metis crossing, Alberta

Witness incredible snow-peaked mountains, ancient glaciers, ice-covered lakes and winter wildlife. From Lake Louise, head north along Highway 93 to savour such sights as the mirror-like Herbert Lake, the sweeping Athabasca Glacier and double-barrelled Sunwapta Falls. At journey’s end, hang your toque at the cosy Chateau Jasper in Jasper National Park.

Winter Rail

Canada is connected coast to coast by train. VIA Rail links Toronto with Vancouver on an incredible journey through Ontario’s northern lakes, prairies and Great Plains before arriving at the Rocky Mountains.

A private transfer from Banff to Lake Louise allows you to soak up the beauty of your surroundings on a magical evening sleigh ride. Enjoy a helicopter snowshoe adventure to the trapped methane ice bubbles at Abraham Lake. From Jasper, the final stretch takes you overnight to Vancouver.

Storm Watching

In Tofino, British Columbia, winter storm watching draws countless visitors each year from November to late February.

Ferocious pounding rain, loud winds and huge waves are fun to watch from the comfort of your hotel.

There are usually 10 to 15 storms every month, with around a dozen featuring extreme conditions. It all began at Chesterman Beach in 1996 when the McDiarmid family enjoyed storm watching so much that they built the Wickaninnish Inn – and more properties followed suit.

Dog’s Life

Imagine being whisked away on a sled by a team of enthusiastic and well-trained huskies, racing through pristine forests, over frozen lakes under the crisp, clear skies of the Great White North.

Dog sledding is a serene and almost silent way to explore the winter landscape.

The only sounds are the soft padding of paws on snow and the occasional jingle of harnesses. Follow in the footsteps of the Klondike gold miners on a journey through the rugged wilderness of the Yukon. You’ll develop a strong bond with your four-legged teammates and their energy is contagious.

Fat Biking

Despite its curious name, fat biking is just mountain biking with oversized tires that grip the snow. This means you can cycle winter wonderlands like Mark Arendz Provincial Ski Park in Brookvale, Prince Edward Island, on its trio of single-track routes and trails designed especially for fat bikes.

Or, on the east coast of New Brunswick, pedal through the Acadian snow-shrouded forest at Kouchibouguac National Park.

Groomed fat-bike trails wind among seven warming huts stocked with firewood – but bring your own thermos of hot chocolate or something stronger.

Where to book it

Frontier Ski
An eight-night package that includes two nights in Kananaskis, three nights in Lake Louise, three nights in Banff, car hire, and flights from London-Heathrow to Calgary with Air Canada starts from £1,880pp. Extras can include a four-hour snowshoeing tour from Banff, for £112pp, or a two-hour (two man) dog sledding experience from Canmore (near Banff) for £210pp.
frontier-ski.co.uk; 020 8776 8709