What to do this winter in Calgary? Your options are many. There is ample opportunity to get outside and enjoy the fresh winter air not only in the city but also with the help of the nearby Rockies. Keep yourself busy this winter with snow tubing, ice biking or snowshoeing, or brush up on order skills like skating or maybe skiing and snowboarding. You can do many of these winter activities in calgary and the nearby foothill/mountain areas!
But it isn’t all snow, ice, and outdoor recreation for things to do in Calgary this winter; you can also mark your calendar for a few different winter-themed festivals in the city. Many of them happen downtown, or in part with other winter festivals around Calgary.
Outdoor Winter Recreation in Calgary
1. Ice Biking
Skating around Bowness Park is a popular winter activity in Calgary for all ages- and now you can rent Ice Bikes to take out on the city pond! These devices get you to pedal while sitting, like on a regular bike, with the front being two skate blades, and the rear sitting on a bike tire. You can rent them for the whole family, or have a few people try them while others skate around.
Where: Bowness Park
How much: $20 per hour
2. Winter Walks with a Warm Drink
It is a colder winter so far in Calgary, but if you’re looking to get out for some exercise still, all you need is a warm drink! Take a winter walk through some of these Calgary neighbourhoods for winter scenery, hot/cozy drinks, and photo ops:
- Baya Rica Café (204 7a St NE, Calgary) and Tom Campbell’s Hill (25 St Georges Dr NE, Calgary)
- Hutch Café (795 1 Ave SW, Calgary) and Eau Claire/Prince’s Island Park
- Monogram Coffee (4814 16 St SW, Calgary) and Sandy Beach Park (4500 14a St SW, Calgary)
- Friends Cappuccino Bar & Bake Shop (45 Edenwold Dr NW #104, Calgary) and Nose Hill Park (5620 14 St NW, Calgary)
3. Outdoor Skating
Calgary has many outdoor skating options from which to choose, and all of them provide a bit of a different skating experience. Bonus: all of them are free to use, too! You can skate under the downtown lights at Olympic Plaza; you can skate along the trail created in Glenmore Park; or you can skate the many frozen and city-maintained ponds around Calgary.
When: all winter
How Much: free
4. WinSport/Canada Olympic Park
There are several ways to have fun this winter with WinSport: you can brush up on ski or snowboard skills before hitting the mountains, slide down their Tube Park, and relax at the end of your day with a drink and meal at the restaurant and cafe.
When: hill open for the winter
Where: WinSport at Canada Olympic Park – 88 Canada Olympic Rd SW, Calgary
How much: Tube Park – $27 per person
Ski hill – $69 per full day per adult; $59 per four hour per adult
5. Cross-country Skiing
The groomed cross-country skiing trails in Calgary extend to all different corners of the city. These include both sections of Glenmore Park, and Bowness Park, where you could also go for a skate. The other trails are on some of Calgary’s golf courses. New to the sport? You can rent cross-country skis and poles from the University of Calgary’s pro shop.
- Bowness Park
- Confederation Golf Course
- Lakeview Golf Course
- Maple Ridge Golf Course
- North & South Glenmore Park
- Shaganappi Point Golf Course
- EV Nordic Loop
6. Fat Biking
Cycle around Calgary this winter with ease! Fat biking is one of the easiest ways to get some exercise over winter, and rentals are available if you don’t have your bike with fat tires. You can typically bike around the trails that are normally open in summer for biking. But with these tires, you can also venture out onto frozen ponds and rinks, when permitted.
A family-friendly afternoon of fun is free and easy with Calgary’s many wicked toboggan hills. Some of the runs on the hills are smaller and better suited to younger kids, while others are a bit steeper and better for older kids. There are several hills in each city quadrant, including popular ones like Confederation Park, Marlborough Park, Stanley Park, and Mackenzie Towne.
Anywhere you can go for a hike in Calgary, you can also go for a winter snowshoe hike. You may even be able to explore more than usual with a pair of snowshoes on, as they can traverse deep snow a lot better than winter boots can. There are even a few different places in Calgary for renting snowshoes.
- Sports Rent, 4424 16th Ave NW, Calgary
- AQ Outdoors, 5063 11st Street SE, Calgary
- U of C Outdoor Centre
9. King Penguin Walk
Watch as many as 12 king penguins waddle the Calgary zoo grounds as part of their daily enrichment walk. The activity is weather dependent so you should check Calgary Zoo’s website before visiti When: Daily until Mid March 2023
Where: Calgary Zoo, 210 St. George’s Drive NE, Calgary
How much: Zoo Admission
The Rocky Mountains in a Day
1. A Mountain Soak
There are two locations where you can head for a day trip and an outdoor soak in the Rockies: the Banff Upper Hot Springs and the Kananaskis Nordic Spa. To visit the Nordic Spa, book your spot in advance online. Entry in Banff is first-come first-served.
Where: Banff Upper Hot Springs
2. Skiing and Snowboarding
Lucky for Calgary, world-class downhill skiing and snowboarding is just short drive west. Between Kananaskis, Canmore, and Banff, there are several options for mountain rides this winter and a fun day trip/escape from the city.
- Nakiska, Canmore
- Sunshine Village
- Mount Norquay Ski Resort
- Lake Louise Ski Resort
3. Ice Climbing and Ice Walk Tours
Take in a unique winter adventure west of Calgary through the various guided ice walks and canyon tours. White Mountain offers guided hikes through Johnston Canyon, Grotto Canyon, and a snowshoe tour through Sunshine Meadows. The Bow Valley Canyon tours are a bit more in-depth of an adventure and take you down a slot canyon frozen mid-stream.
4. Dogsledding Tours
See the Rocky Mountain vistas from views you can only access with a dogsled! These popular tours are offered by a few different dogsled operators in Banff and Canmore, and you can choose from 1.5 hour, half-day, full-day, and multi-day adventures.
5. Ride the Banff Gondola/Nightrise
You can choose to ride the Banff Gondola as normal this winter, and cruise up to the mountain top under blue skies. Or you can purchase tickets to their Nightrise Event which includes an impressive nigh time light display. There are also a few dining options at the summit site, and the top site.
When: all winter
Where: Regular Admission
How much: the end of Mountain Avenue (accessed from Banff Avenue), Banff
6. Banff Snow Days
From January 19-30 Banff and Lake Louise come alive with the annual Snowdays celebration. The streets of downtown Banff transform into larger-than-life winter galleries with giant snow sculptures to be found throughout; the Snowdays Play Zone comes alive in the heart of Banff, and specialty cocktails and menus can be found at an array of restaurants for the Tribute Craft Spirits Festival.
When: January 18 – 29, 2023
Where: Various Venues, Banff
Winter Date Ideas Calgary
1. Craft Brewery Tours Inglewood
In order to make sure you get as many breweries as possible in Calgary, and to simplify everything, book your adventure with Canadian Craft Tours. Their minibus transports you between over ten local breweries, many of which also offer food menus. Tours are available from Wednesday to Sunday of each week.
Where: Pickup at Marriot Fairfield Inn – 239 12 Ave SW, Calgary
2. The Alice: An Immersive Cocktail Experience
Where: Sunny Cider House, #1 – 3300 14th AVE NE, Calgary
3. Romantic Staycation
A romantic getaway doesn’t actually have to be away; you can get away for an overnight date in Calgary with the help of these hotel deals. These are date night and romance packages which include some bubbly and strawberries, food credits for hotel restaurants, and other enhancements.
- Le Germain Hotel
- Ramada Plaza
- Grey Eagle Resort & Casino
- 25 Alberta Hotels & Resorts Offering Valentine’s Day Staycation Packages
- 15 Short Term Rentals For a Romantic Winter Getaway in Alberta
4. Visit the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary
An overly adorable date can be made from the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary where you get to be interactive and close with the cuties. There are three experiences you can book with the wolfdogs, including a Sanctuary Walk, and Intro Tour, and an Interactive Tour.
When: all winter
Where: 263156 Range Rd 53, Rocky View County
How much: Walk $16 per youth, $28 per adult
Interactive Tour $69 per person
5. Get Cozy Around a Fire
Several fire pits and picnic areas are available for reservation this winter through the City of Calgary. You can pick a spot nice and close to a public rink or hill and set up a warm place to relax after skating, sledding, skiing, or ice biking. All you need is an online reservation at one of many parks, and your own firewood!
6. Walk Stephen Ave.
The art, architecture, and lack of traffic, all make Stephen Ave a pleasant place for a walk any time of year. At night, the streets are lit with bright decorations and is where you can find many of the Hot Chocolate Fest competitors and the Glow Lights Festival. In terms of dining options, your options will seem endless. Perfect for an afternoon, evening, or nighttime date!
7. Shop the Year-Round Markets
Thankfully, farmer’s markets still operate during the colder months in Calgary. You can kill an afternoon together at any of these markets. Browse handmade goods, stock up on fresh groceries, and taste the various food trucks and vendors. Calgary’s year-round markets include the Calgary Farmer’s Market, the Crossroads Market, Hillhurst Sunnyside Farmer’s Market, and the Symons Valley Ranch Market Store.