Winter in Canada’s Alberta

From snowy mountain tops to ice caves, there are plenty of ways to make the most of the magical wonderland that is Alberta in the winter

Skate on Lake Louise

Whizz around on a frozen lake straight out of a Christmas film in the Canadian Rockies. Skating on Lake Louise is a winter rite of passage in Alberta from mid-December to mid-April. The lake is cleared daily, making for ideal conditions to practice your footwork, and by night the lake lights up for atmospheric skating in the dark. After hanging up your skates, settle in for a cocktail and dinner at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.

Ice walk at Maligne Canyon

Iconic landmark Maligne Canyon, located in Jasper National Park, is the deepest accessible canyon in the province. Whilst impressive in the summer, the canyon really comes into its own in the winter, turning into a frozen gallery complete with natural ice sculptures. The Maligne Canyon ice walk tour is the best way to walk the canyon floor and explore frozen waterfalls and ice caves.

Alberta icewalk

Snowshoe in the Rockies

A snowshoe-assisted trek on a crisp winters day is a much-loved and longstanding Canadian winter pastime. Enjoy some fresh air and the great outdoors as you trek through the powdery snowscape. Discover Banff Tours offers several different snowshoe tours, ranging from beginner excursions to more scenic advanced trails. If you’re feeling adventurous, give heli-snowshoeing a try for epic views.

Alberta snowshoe

Ride in a horse-drawn sleigh

Dash through the snow on a sleigh ride for two or book a larger group adventure, snuggled under a warm blanket. This popular winter activity isn’t limited to one part of the province; travellers can visit Banff Trail Riders in Banff National Park or hitch a ride with Brewster Adventures beneath Victoria Glacier. Boundary Ranch in Kananaskis Country offers sleigh rides through picturesque woodland.

Alberta sleigh

Ride the Banff Gondola

A ride on the Banff Gondola is a year-round bucket-list activity. But ascending up Sulphur Mountain in the winter is especially magical, as the scenery becomes reminiscent of a real life snow globe. Get some bird’s eye view snaps during the eight minute ride to the top, before taking a stroll on the boardwalk. At Sky Bistro, savour the panoramic mountain scenery 2,255 metres up with a delicious locally-sourced meal. Included in the ticket price is Nightrise, a night time experience featuring four multi-sensory art installations of light, sound and projections.

Spend Christmas at the castle

Who wouldn’t want to spend the festive season in a real castle? Starting in late November, the Fairmont Banff Springs becomes the ultimate fairytail destination, transforming into a Christmas-themed wonderland. The hotel erects a massive tree in its Mount Stephen Hall plus a larger-than-life gingerbread house in the lobby. Hotel guests of all ages can enjoy a host of festive traditions.

Alberta castle

Make tracks fat biking

Fat biking is the latest extreme sport on snow, with trails popping up all over Canada. The oversized tires on these off-road bicycles allow riders to negotiate the snow with ease, meaning the trails in Banff and Lake Louise are now accessible year-round. Bikers can explore miles of groomed trails or experience a backcountry adventure with an overnight stay as part of a longer tour with snowtips-bactrax.

bike

Power of the pack

Feel the power of man’s best friend as you glide at top speed across frozen lakes, misty forests and snowy plains. A private tour with Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours in Canmore will be an adrenaline experience that clients won’t forget. Their dogs have even starred in Hollywood films! At least you know you are in the safe hands of professionals.

sled

Hit the slopes

Skiing is one of the most popular winter activities across the province and there is no shortage of slopes for skiers and snowboarders to ‘shred’. Banff Sunshine Village is famous for ‘Canada’s Best Snow’ with three mountains of diverse terrain whilst Lake Louise offers the largest ski resort with 139 kilometres of slopes and Marmot Basin is home to Canada’s highest base elevation at 1,698 m. For families and beginners, Mount Norquay has plenty of easy terrain slopes.

Bubbles from above

For a truly unique experience take a ‘Bubbles Heli Tour’ which gives passengers a bird’s eye view of Abraham Lake and the natural phenomenon that happens when methane gas bubbles from plant life freezes at various depths under the lake surface. The magical landscape can be viewed as part of a Bubbles + 6 Glacier Tour, Bubbles + Epic Summit Tour or Bubbles + Complete Columbia Tour with Rockies Heli.

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