9 seasonal activities that will make you fall in love with Calgary's winters

Feb 26 2021, 5:38 pm

It’s nothing new for Calgarians to make the most of a few chilly months. Snow days filled with family adventures, cozy cocktails by a fire, and plenty of outdoor activities in and around the city. We’re an active bunch here in YYC. But insert a year-long pandemic, and it seems as though this winter will be the longest yet.

With an urgent need to abide by the COVID-19 protocols set in place to ultimately keep us safe and say goodbye to COVID once and for all, it’s hard not to keep our spirits up and stay active. It just takes a simple reminder to realize that, although things look a little different, winter is still the same joyful season. Many of our favourite activities are still there for us to enjoy.

For me, my favourite part about winter in Calgary is the stillness after a snowstorm. It’s that moment when I get up early, walk outside, and take a minute to breathe in the frosty air, enjoying the silence and serenity around me. The foliage in the yard glistens bright, and even the street is a beautiful sight before it gets decorated with salt and mud from the traffic. It’s my favourite way to start the day; a live snowglobe is the best way I can describe it. In the famous words of Lorelai Gilmore: “Everything is magical when it snows, everything looks pretty, and the clothes are great!”

During this time, it’s been so important to remind myself to move and stay active, especially since many of us are working from home. There are days when the most I’ve moved is from my kitchen to my couch and back to my desk on rotation. My day begins and ends so much better when I throw on a parka, a hat, and a pair of mitts and allow the snowy world outdoors to be my oyster.

Here are a few fun ways I’ve been staying active this winter — inside and outside — on my own and with my bubble, along with some ideas I hope to cross off my bucket list by the time the snow has melted.

Outdoor activities


Cross country skiing or snowshoeing: Not sure if you’ve noticed, but Calgarians have done a great job at adapting their yard, neighbourhood field, local parks, and really any snow-covered landscape within the city into their own personal spot to break their own tracks. Plus, this is an incredible way to stay fit and explore the scenery in your own backyard.

If you’re new to the sport, check the City of Calgary’s website for a list of groomed and ungroomed trails and the spots prohibited or dangerous for cross country skiing or snowshoeing.

Sledding adventures: I don’t know about anyone else, but I love the thrill of soaring down a snowy hill! Grab your sled or toboggan, and a helmet, and head to the nearest city-maintained hill or if you’re up for it, head to the Canada Olympic Park Tube Park, a personal favourite by far.


Explore your neighbourhood: Starting or ending the day off with a walk around the block not only gives you a fresh perspective, but it gets you out of the house and allows you to discover those hidden gems that your neighbourhood has to offer. (It’s even better if you’ve got a furry friend to tag along.)

Skating: Calgary has a unique ODR (outdoor rink) culture, and it’s been one of my favourite things to look forward to every year since I was a little girl. Head to Bowness Park or Olympic Plaza for a bonafide Calgarian skating experience, or check out this list for an outdoor rink near you. This year, the city has also introduced ice trails that, if I am being honest, I hope stick around for many years to come. Don’t forget to warm up with a toasty hot chocolate; it’s tradition!

Indoor activities 

Game time: Dominoes, Poker, Risk, and Animal Crossing have been some favourites across the board this winter. Personally, I’ve enjoyed playing Uno, online trivia games, and taking a trip across the ocean on the board game, Ticket to Ride, with my family bubble over the last few months. It’s been the best way to mentally travel to the faraway destinations that we all can’t wait to visit once it’s safe to do so.

Scavenger hunt: This is a great one to do in your home with the kids or over Zoom with the entire family. Who knew that someday doing the dishes would be the key to unlocking a whole new set of clues in your house-wide hunt.

Workout classes: Although we can’t go to the studio, we have no excuse to skip the gym! My favourite local studios offering online classes and fitness challenges are Barre Body Studio, Undrcard, and Barry’s Boot Camp, all spots I used to visit in person that now come to life in my living room. Many studios are also offering short 20- to 30-minute sprints, which make it easy to bang out on a quick break from your desk.

Pick up a locally-made dinner: When you eat, sleep, work, and gym at home all day every day, sometimes it’s nice to let someone else do the cooking. My go-to has been Bridgette Bar for an elevated bite, Monki for brunch, Black Sheep Pastries for a sweet treat, and Jerusalem Shawarma for an affordable, filling donair that lasts me at least two meals. Here are some other Calgary favourites offering up tasty fare (and libations) to enjoy at home.

Give your space a refresh: When it’s chilly outdoors, there’s no better time to hit up Pinterest and go down a hole of DIY projects to spruce up your home. Since it’s the place you literally spend 90% of your time, you may as well make it as cozy and inspiring as possible. Plus, tackling a home-reno is a great final test for your relationship if you’ve made it through COVID this far. Check out the design trends experts are predicting for 2021 before you start.

Remember to follow the latest COVID safety guidelines issued by Alberta Health, and don’t forget to social distance and wear a mask (it’s actually the best cold weather hack and replaces any need for an extra scarf).

If you’re looking for even more fun stuff to do, visit calgary.ca/lovewinter. Tell us how you Love Winter in YYC and share your coolest memories with us by tagging #LoveWinterYYC on your Instagram and Twitter posts. Stay warm out there, Calgary! 

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