8 Canadian Winter Events Worth Freezing For


Bucket List Worthy  

Winter in Canada might be difficult for all of us because how harsh it is, but it’s not a reason to stay at home and do nothing. It’s one of the most wonderful experiences on this planet and it would be a shame not to make the best of it. Fortunately, Canada has plenty of winter festivals and events that will make you want to stick around!

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1. Winterlude – Ottawa, Ontario

Rideau Canal, Ottawa, Ontario
Rideau Canal, Ottawa, Ontario

Winterlude is truly a family affair. Skating on the Rideau Canal (the longest skating rink in the world, according to organizers), ice sculptures, street amusement, a huge snow playground… children will find plenty to do thanks to the pillowy nature of snow and the slippery benefits of ice. There also are plenty of concerts for the parents to enjoy!

January 30 to February 16, 2015

2. Igloofest – Montreal, Quebec

Igloofest – Montreal, Quebec
Igloofest – Montreal, Quebec

It’s a truly unique experience: electronic music, the general ambiance of a rave, the best DJs in the world, a whole bar made of ice, giant screens and laser shows… however the event is not held on a beach in Goa but in the middle of winter in Montreal! Make sure you dress as warmly as you can, head down there, and dance the night away, in the middle of winter.

January 16th to February 8th, 2015

3. Winter Festival of Lights – Niagara Falls, Ontario

Winter Festival of Lights - Niagara Falls, Ontario
Winter Festival of Lights – Niagara Falls, Ontario

Niagara Falls are clearly a spectacular place, and to see the falls glow with impressive colours is even more outstanding. This year, the festival is adding to its previous lineup: on top of the wonderful lights show right inside of the falls, there will now be 3D light shows, light shows choreographed to music and plenty of fireworks. The organizers also claim to have the “world’s largest illuminated Canadian-American flag”, which is somewhat interesting, isn’t it?

November 15th, 2014, to January 12th, 2015

4. SnowDays – Banff, Alberta

Banff Upper Hot Springs
Banff Upper Hot Springs

This one is truly a winter festival. A 40 feet ice climbing wall in downtown Banff? A curling tournament? “Skating, skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding, Geocaching and a sleigh ride”, says the official website, which can give you a great idea of what to expect at this winter festival: everything. And if it gets too cold for you, there are the hot springs, located in the Banff National Park, that’ll warm you right up!

January 10th to February 8th, 2015

5. Red Bull Crashed Ice – Edmonton, Alberta

Red Bull Crashed Ice, when the event was held in Quebec City
Red Bull Crashed Ice, when the event was held in Quebec City

Moving from Quebec City to Edmonton for the first time, the Red Bull Crashed Ice finals will be held in Alberta. The unique event combines ice skating and downhill skiing. Contestants clad in hockey gear go down an icy slope at crazy speeds and crash into each other to determine who will claim the crown from Marco Dallago. There are 4 Red Bull Crashed Ice races in the world: Helsinki, Finland; Saint-Paul, USA; Moscow, Russia; and this year, Edmonton, Alberta, will host a race as well. Of course there are plenty of parties and events held for the duration of the race and local contestants are welcome to try their luck on the course.

The date hasn’t been announced yet.

6. Winter Carnival – Quebec City, Quebec

An Ice Castle at the Quebec Winter Carnival
An Ice Castle at the Quebec Winter Carnival

The Quebec Winter Carnival is unique in the world. Its mascot, Bonhomme Carnaval, is one of the most recognizable mascots on the planet. It’s also one of the largest winter festivals. There’s a great masquerade, ceremonies, a dozen outdoor sports events including the ice canoeing championship, ice palaces, and of course, the world-famous parade, where the queen of the carnival and her seven duchesses are crowned.

January 30th to February 15th, 2015

7. Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous – Whitehorse, Yukon

Cliff Charbonneau tosses a chainsaw in Whitehorse, Yukon
Cliff Charbonneau tosses a chainsaw in Whitehorse, Yukon

It’s impossible to talk about winter in Canada without talking about one of the northernmost cities on the planet. Whitehorse is home of the Sourdough Rendezvous, and it’s truly an event, in the old fashioned sense of the word. There are dog sled races, an axe throwing contest, a spelling bee, a trapper contest, a snow sculpture contest, a chainsaw chuck contest, a pet parade, and even an arm wrestling contest, just to name a few! They even elect Mr. & Mrs. Yukon. That’s what winter is all about.

February 18th to February 22nd, 2015

8. Montréal en Lumière – Montreal, Québec

Montreal en Lumiere 2014

Montréal en Lumière is a festival that combines all the best that Montreal has to offer: music, food, arts and one all-night, mostly free, party night! The festival in itself is held at the end of February and usually lasts 10 days. During the festival, culinary events are held throughout the city, shows and concerts are given by local and international talents and an incredible outdoor site is erected in Old Montreal. And the largest event, the big finale, is called Nuit Blanche: for that very special winter night, public transportation is free and runs all night, art galleries and venues are open – most of them are free of charge – and a great parties are held across the city. The concept of Nuit Blanche, which first started in Paris in 2002, is now held in more than 25 cities around the world including Toronto, Ottawa, Huntsville, Winnipeg and Halifax.

February 19th to March 1st, 2015

About the Author: Cedric Lizotte

Bilingual freelance journalist. Tech, food, travel, photo. Twitter: @CedrikLizotte


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