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Winter Wonderland: 12 Must-Do Activities in Canada Wintertime

Winter is the time for all of us to curl up into a bundle. It is time for hot coffee and snacks. Above all, it is also the time to enjoy various winter activities. 

The extreme winter in Canada starts in December, January, and February. It can begin as early as November and last until March to April in the far eastern regions. Canada is well known for its harsh weather, but wintertime is also a treat for the eyes and a time for incredible winter activities.

Many places in Canada are worth visiting and enjoying during the wintertime. Let us take a look at some of the thme and their activities. 

12 Things To Do During Canada Winter Time:

WINTER IN CANADA! The Good, The Bad, and the Cold...

1. Visit the Quebec Winter Carnival

The Quebec Winter Carnival is an attraction during Canada’s wintertime. It is a pre-Lenten festival celebrated annually since 1955. 

Previously it was celebrated intermittently since 1894. Later it was considered an annual event. The mascot of the carnival, Bonhomme Carnaval, made his first appearance in 1955. 

The famous attractions of this carnival are the day and night parades led by Bonhomme Carnaval. The city is decorated uniquely for this festival with lights and ice sculptures, and the Parade marches through these roads. Many public and private parties are held in and around the city, even in the cold outdoors. 

Additionally, many significant Canadian winter holidays occur at various city spots. A ball with more than 300 participants takes place in the grand ballroom of the Château Frontenac.

Many outdoor sports events like snowboarding, ice canoeing, dog-sledging, and hockey are held inside and outside the city. Also, there is a free outdoor banquet with breakfast and brunch. 

quebec winter carnival
Source: Shutterstock

The festival begins and ends with ceremonies at the Ice Palace with thousands of attendees, including the mayor of Quebec. The competitions of the events include snow sculpture at the Plains of Abraham, the primary setting of the carnival. 

The Plains are a public area for leisure, and during the festival, a part of them is transformed into winter amusement parks for families. The snow sculptures made in the contests are displayed here. 

The outdoor activities include dancing outside the Ice Palace and drinking Caribou, a hot beverage to keep yourself warm. There are public auctions held for the fundraising of the carnival. 

The race and tournaments of the carnival include the sleigh race, ice canoe race, Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament, snowboard international world cup, and so on. 

2. Skating in Rideau Canal

The Rideau Canal, also called Rideau Waterway, connects Ottawa to Lake Ontario and the Saint Lawrence River at Kingston, Ontario. The canal, which is 202 kilometers long, is run by Parks Canada. 

During the Canadian wintertime, a section of the canal passing through central Ottawa becomes the world’s largest skating rink. It is a famous tourist attraction. 

A fried dough pastry, Beaver Tails is the most sold snack in the skate way, along with other beverages. It is an experience for skaters to tour the whole city, taking the path through the canal. 

Some people even use this way to go to school or work. The best time to experience the beauty of the place is to go skating at night. 

The whole route will be illuminated with lights, and the skating experience will be out of this world. The site is open 24 hours, and you can take the tour anytime when the crowd is less. 

Other than skating and sleighing rentals, the facilities include heated washrooms and changing rooms. The Fairmont Chateau Laurier is the headquarters hotel of Winterlude, located between the Rideau Canal, Parliament Hill, and the Ottawa River. 

The hotel offers various festival offers like a one–night package including a room, sleigh ride, and Beaver Tails for four people. Also, they include other packages. The hotel also has an indoor Art Deco pool. 

3. Dog sledging

Dog sledding is a fantastic and fun way to experience Canadian wintertime. It is available in many provinces and territories during the winter season. 

The dogs used in dog sledding are treated very well and taken care of. But it would be best if you were careful while selecting dogs. Check whether the dogs are treated well. 

There are many places in Canada where that offer dog sledding. Dog sledging in Newfoundland and Labrador is found in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. 

Here the opportunities are few as the industry is slowly dying down. Dog sledging in Alberta is found mainly in areas like Calgary, Lake Louise, banff national park, and Jasper. 

The view in these areas is very stunning to watch.  Quebec is the busiest area for dog sledging, and it is available in most of the regions of the province. 

There are many options for dog sledging here, and it is available in some main spots like Quebec City, Montreal, and Mont Tremblant. Dog sledging in Ontario is mainly concentrated in an area between Ottawa and Toronto. 

It is called Explorer’s edge, and many tourists come to this spot for dog sledging. This is also an easily accessible spot for dog sledging. 

Dog sledging in the Arctic region of Canada is extra special. This region includes Yukon and Nunavut. In Yukon, dog sledging is found in the capital region of Whitehorse and other small towns. Like Dawson City, Haines Junction, and Marsh Lake.

Dog sledging in Nunavut also includes more extended travel for experience sledders. In these regions, dog sledging is highly regarded. 

It would be the first winter activity you would hear about in the northwest territories. Home of the Canadian Championship Dog Derby, the place has become a tourist destination for dog sledders. It is a part of their culture. 

4. Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing is the best way to explore more areas of terrain than you can do with regular boots. During the Canadian wintertime, snowfalls are all over the Canadian Rockies, when most people come around for snowshoeing. The snowshoe trails run around many other parks and provinces across the country. 

 Algonquin Park is the famous snowshoeing trail in Ontario. This long trail of 1.3km provides good exercise and information on the region’s long history. 

Highest Mountains in Canada
Source: Shutterstock

If you wish for a longer trek, you have the Old Railway trail, which is 16km long. Even though trekking takes longer, the path is stable and more accessible for smaller children. 

You can watch moose, wolf tracks, foxes, Black-backed Woodpeckers, martins, boreal chickadees, and many other creatures on your way. Whistler in British Columbia is one of the best snowshoeing spots in Canada and a place for you to practice snowshoeing. 

For a remarkable experience, you can take the Rainbow falls trail, which would take you to the base of the frozen Rainbow Falls to witness the astonishing and marvelous view of Canada’s wintertime. 

If skiing is not your thing, you have the ideal place for snowshoeing. Mont Tremblant, in Quebec, is the perfect spot for downhill skiing. 

Ski-de Fond In Mon Tremblant welcomes tourists for wintertime snowshoeing. They also provide a memorable mountain adventure with a fondue dinner in the right middle of the forest. 

The Kootenay National Park in British Columbia receives a large amount of snow every winter and becomes the ideal space for snowshoeing. 

The most famous winter trail here is the Paint Pots trail. It takes the travelers over the frozen Vermilion River and between the mountains to a large group of orange-tinted ponds. The concentration of iron oxide in the area makes the frozen lakes look orange in color. The terrain is mostly flat, and you may see some moose on your way to the trail. 

5. Ice Fishing

The best cold recreational activity during Canada’s wintertime is Ice Fishing. Due to the temperature in the northern region, Canada has plenty of spots for ice fishing. 

Lake Simcoe in Ontario is North America’s most popular ice fishing spot. The fishing season usually happens between January and March, and a large crowd will come for fishing. Some of the best among them are the following. 

But still, you would get a spot for your own in the 280 square miles of the fishing area, along with a hut for rent. Every year the lake is stocked with fish and the already existing ones. 

Tobin Lake is an excellent spot for catching large fish. The lake is 40 miles long and 60 miles wide. It isn’t easy to find the best place.  Many resorts around the lake provide accommodation for tourists. They offer heated huts and a full tour of the lake to explore its various parts and find the best spot for fishing. 

Large fishes of 10lb are caught daily in the Bay of Quinte, and 12-14lb walleye are caught weekly. Here ice fishing begins in December and goes throughout February. 

Even though the Bay is famous for its walleye, it is also the spot for fishes like northern pike, bass, perch, and many other small fishes. Lodging and guided fishing are provided by Prince Edward County, a hotel 2 hours east of Toronto. 

icy fishing
By: Alexander Lukatskyi on Shutterstock

6. Watch the Northern Lights

Due to the northern latitudes and minimal pollution, it is straightforward to watch the lights of the north during Canada’s wintertime. This is mostly seen between October and March. 

 The Takhini hot pools in Yukon give a refreshing and enjoyable viewing experience. You can dip yourselves in the heated pools to experience the beautiful northern lights. 

There are some unique spots where you can easily view the northern lights. The lights make the region look magical in the cold climate. The Athabasca University Geophysical Observatory is another place located in Alberta where you can watch the northern sky.

Even though the observatory is closed to the public, you can walk around its surroundings and watch the sky. Lake Superior is another spot that makes viewers awe at the lights. With the Canadian Shield on one side and an expanse of water on the other, the north shore of Lake Superior looks mesmerizing as ever. 

Churchill has the best view of the beautiful northern lights as a place located beneath the Auroral Oval. 

The tourist can enjoy the experience of viewing in a multi-terrain vehicle that traverses the north part of the lights. Also, get ready, as you may even spot a polar bear! This trek is worth it as you can witness views only once in a lifetime.

northen light
Photo by Vincent Guth on Unsplash

7. Pond Hockey

Pond Hockey is similar to ice hockey in appearance but is more simplified and played on a natural water body that is frozen. 

The game is tied to the Canadians” sense of being themselves and their identification icon. It is the favorite pass time activity for Canadians during Canada’s wintertime. 

It is one of the most massive pond hockey games in the world. In two weekends, an average of around 300 games is played. Teams from the United States and many other countries come to participate. An average of 700-1000 players attend the competition held every year.

The Pinestone Resort in Haliburton is chosen as the location as the pond in front of the resort is shallow, because of which it would freeze quickly. 

This is the perfect place if an ice surface is strong enough to hold an event. The resort is very close, and all the participants are given accommodation here. During the season time, the resort gets filled with participants. 

Also, the trophies made out of wood for the winning team are made by Haliburton itself. One award takes an average of two hours the making. 

8. Enjoy Ice Wine

Even though most of us, including me, prefer a hot cup of coffee during winter, the Canadian wintertime is given for sipping some icy wine. 

Ice wine is a dessert made out of frozen grapes and is famous around CanadaThe critical event celebrating ice wine drinking during Canada’s winter time is the Niagara Ice Wine Festival, which takes place over two weekends. 

Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Queen Street changes into a winter wonderland for this event. All the people in the town come together to celebrate the ice wine festival and make a grand event out of it.

 Along with freezing ice wines, you have ice wine-inspired culinary to tempt your appetite. The harvest time of ice wine is usually from December to late February and goes up to March. 

There are also many shops nearby where you can pick up the essentials. Entry to the village is completely free. 

Source: Shutterstock

9. Stay at Quebec Ice Hotel

If you cannot stand cold, stay away from the Quebec Ice Hotel! Because the cold facts would chill you. Still, visiting the Quebec Ice Hotel is necessary during Canada’s wintertime. 

It is 20 minutes out of Quebec City and is a simple lodge where people check in and out and keep their belongings in the locker room. 

The temperature inside the hotel is between minus 3 degrees Celsius and minus 5 degrees Celsius. It looks more like an igloo. A tour of the inside of the hotel is available only until evening. Only those who have brought an overnight package could visit at night. 

The ice hotel is like a fairy world where the ice glows at night due to the lights in the interior. The rooms do not have a door, but there is a curtain for privacy. The hotel includes outdoor hot tubs, male and female changing rooms, flush toilets, dryers, and lockers. 

If food is included in your tour package, you will get it served at the Auberge Duchesnay, a nearby resort.  If you decide to stay at the hotel overnight, make sure you don’t expect the luxury and warmth of a conventional hotel. 

Before sleeping, you can take a bath in the outdoor hot tub. After this, you can snuggle into the sleeping bag provided. It would help if you remembered that the bed is laid on a large piece of ice with a wooden box spring and mattress on top. 

The tour package includes dinner and stays at the nearby Auberge Duchesnay. This can also vary according to the price.

 So you can decide whether to stay at the ice hotel or the resort at night. The overnight stay includes:

  • An Ice Bar cocktail.
  • Access to hot tubs.
  • A warm morning beverage. 
  • Sleeping gear to sleep in the ice hotel.

They also include themes like romance or adventure. 

Quebec City
Source: DepositPhotos

10. Enjoy the Winter Light Festival

The Canadian wintertime is not to snuggle inside but to celebrate the season’s warmth. It is to enjoy Canada’s largest festival of illumination, the Winter Light Festival. 

The Ontario Power Generation organized the festival, illuminates the whole of Niagara Falls into a pool of sparkling lights. 

It was founded in 1982 to develop tourism in Niagara Falls during Canada’s wintertime. This festival attracts over 1.8 million visitors every year. It was coordinated by the Niagara Falls Canada Visitor and Convention Bureau, the City of Niagara Falls, The Niagara Parks Commission, and some local business groups. 

Until 2013, the program was held by the Tourism Industry Association of Canada. 

11. Enjoy Local Seafood of the season.

The first thing one feels to eat during Canadian wintertime is a hot meat stew. But, the unique type of comfort food of the season are oysters and sea urchins. And Vancouver and British Columbia are famous spots for this. 

Pacific oysters harvested in British Columbia and Vancouver are famous internationally.  You can enjoy the most famous oysters on half-shell with some grated horseradish or some lemon juice. 

Deep-fried oysters are also available if you are not a fan of raw oysters. Try eating them during cold months because that is when they get tastier. And the enormous variety available during the season is Fanny bay. 

The next local seafood is sea urchins, which can be found around the coast of British Columbia. Even though menacing in appearance, they are a delicacy. The creamy roe inside the shell has the best flavor and richness in taste. 

During Canada wintertime, many urchins, especially the red and green ones, are sold in the Steveston Fishermen’s Wharf and at Granville Island, from where they end up in Japanese restaurants. 

The best local Canadian seafood can be found in Blue Water Café + Raw Bar in Yaletown. Here, the guest can have the best of British Columbia’s oysters. For sea urchins, you can visit the Miku restaurant or other Japanese restaurants like Minami in Yaletown. 

You have options for traditional food in Chambar in downtown Vancouver, Wildebeest in Gastown, and Exile Bistro in the West End. 

12. Spend Christmas in Montreal.

What is winter without the best Christmas? Canada wintertime is also Christmas time, and you will experience the best Christmas ever. And Montreal has the best activities for you. 

The Jacques Cartier Square in Montreal is lit up to welcome the people during Christmas. It is the ultimate place where you can find fantastic music, delicious food, outdoor bars, and mascots along the street. 

Christmas in the parks begins in the corner of Cartier and Mont-Royal. Here, you can come with your friends to enjoy, buy Christmas trees and sing carols while sipping some wine. 

Also, many shows and events are happening in the park during the Canadian wintertime. Christmas in Montreal is incomplete without the Santa Claus parade. This has been a tradition since 1925 and is locally known as the Defile du Pere Noel. 

During Christmas, the night sky of Montreal is filled with firecrackers. The Parade goes through downtown till Catherine Street. Thousands of small kids will be delighted to see Santa Claus passing by.  

It begins on the 15th of December and is one of the main highlights of the season. It has been a tradition for years, and during Christmas, there are some Saturday nights picked to do the fireworks. 

Closing Thoughts

The celebration of the cold and warmth of Canada wintertime is not limited here. There are many more winter festivals, and events held all over Canada

If you know the other winter sports activities of the Canadian winter months, let us know in the comments. 

Last Updated on by Sanjana


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