Edmonton is the perfect city for winter lovers. The capital city of Alberta embraces the winter season with festivals, events and hikes to turn even the biggest winter hater into a fan. If you are looking for things to do in Edmonton in the winter be sure to add these Edmonton winter attractions to your list.
Things to do in Edmonton – Winter Activities in Edmonton
See the Aurora Borealis
Edmonton in winter is the best time to see the aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights.
The skies in Edmonton winters are quite clear, so star gazing is a whole lot easier. Be sure to follow Aurora Watch so you know which nights will give you the best chance of spotting the Northern Lights.
If you want to increase your chances of seeing the Northern Lights in Edmonton – head to Elk Island National Park. The entire park is hidden from the city lights making the Aurora Borealis easier to spot.
Snowshoeing just oozes Canadianness. I never feel more Canadian than when I strap on a pair of snowshoes and go for a hike in the thick snow.
There are plenty of trails that you can take in and around Edmonton in winter in your snowshoes. If you want to venture through the River Valley or walk around William Hawrelak Park – there are plenty of snowshoe friendly trails to try.
You will walk around Astotin Lake followed by snacks around a fire under one of the darkest skies in Alberta. Perhaps you’ll even spot the Northern Lights on one of these hikes!
This is a registered event that costs $29.80 per person. Contact 780-922-5790 to book a spot!
Address: Elk Island is on the Yellowhead Highway at 54401 Range Road 203.
Take a Winter Hike in Edmonton
Get out in the Edmonton nature and explore the River Valley. You’ll find the best spot for easy hiking. The trails are generally plowed, so they’re easily accessible to everyone. For a harder winter hike, I recommend heading to Elk Island National Park.
The River Valley is located throughout Edmonton but my favourite trail is located in central Edmonton.
You can reach my favourite trail by heading towards the Capilano area of town at 101 Avenue and 84th Street right next to the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton. It’s a strange little entrance but it leads to the best trails in the River Valley.
Try Cross-Country Skiing
Cross-country skiing is one of the best winter activities in Edmonton. The River Valley offers tons of space and cross-country ski tracks for you to explore.
Another great area to break out the skis is William Hawrelak Park. With an abundance of trails, you will never run out of things to do in Edmonton in the winter.
Interested in exploring more trails? Check out all of the locations you can go cross country skiing in Edmonton.
Website: Cross-Country Skiing in Edmonton
Go Wildlife Spotting
It’s a lot easier to spot animals in the white snow or in the naked trees in Edmonton in winter than it is when everything is covered by thick grass, shrubs and leaves.
Head out to Elk Island National Park to see some bison, deer, coyotes and possibly even a moose!
See the Christmas Lights at the Legislature
The Legislature is one of the cooler looking buildings in the city. They do an amazingly beautiful display of lights around Christmas that you’ve got to add to your list of things to do in Edmonton in winter.
The Christmas lights are all around the legislative grounds so access is free!
Address: 10800-97 Avenue.
Follow the Muttart Conservatory Light Walk
If you want to get out of the cold but still do a winter activity, I recommend heading to the Muttart Conservatory Light Walk. Wednesday evenings are adults only!
I really loved doing the light walk this year – it shows the Muttart Conservatory at night which gives it a totally different feel! Plus it smells great. It’s a really beautiful place at night and great for dates!
Address: Muttart Conservatory at 9626-96A Street
Go Skiing in Edmonton’s Snow Valley
Looking for things to do in Edmonton during winter? If you want to go skiing or snowboarding in Edmonton in winter but don’t feel like driving to the mountains, check out the Snow Valley Ski Resort or the less popular (and quieter) Sunridge Ski Area.
These places are great for experiencing the fear of rushing down a hill at top speed! This isn’t for me, but I know a lot of people really love skiing and snowboarding.
Last time I went skiing, my skis went down the hill before me and I had to chase after them! Running faster and faster, I looked like a snowman running down the hill.
Address: Snow Valley is at 13204 Rainbow Valley Road.
Build a Snowman
Building a snowman has to be one of the most fun things to do in Edmonton in winter. Head out into one of Edmonton’s many parks, or stay in your own backyard and create the perfect snowman specimen.
Explore Ice Castles
Looking for what to see in Edmonton in the winter? Well, the Ice Castles are only available in the winter season as they are made entirely of ice!
I’m warning you — this is the coldest place ever. Dress ten times warmer than you think you should. I don’t know if it’s because the castle is made out of ice or if William Hawrelak Park is just the freezer in an already cold world.
The Ice Castle is weather dependant so it is usually open from January to March or until it melts! It’s a ticketed event so be sure to register and get your ticket at the Ice Castles website.
Address: William Hawrelak Park – 9330 Groat Road.
Visit Edmonton Valley Zoo
This might be a bit surprising, but wandering around the Edmonton Valley Zoo is one of the best places to visit in Edmonton in winter.
The zoo is very quiet and calm, the crowds tend to stay out of the cold air. However, the zoo offers many indoor enclosures that allow you to get to escape into the warm buildings to see some adorable animals.
Address: 13315 Buena Vista Road
Hours: Open 364 days a year from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm.
Website: Edmonton Valley Zoo website
Go Sledding and Tobogganing
Edmonton has a ton of super steep and slippery slopes that are perfect for a day of sliding downhills. Sledding is one of the best family-friendly Edmonton winter activities.
Sliding down some of the snowy hills in Edmonton can be exhilarating and terrifying! Be sure to wear your snow pants, so you stay warm and dry so the fun can continue for hours!
Emily Murphy Park located on Emily Murphy Park Road and Groat Road is the best place hill for tobogganing in Edmonton!
Ice Skating in Edmonton in the Winter
If you’re too cold to do this outside, West Edmonton Mall and several other recreation centres have indoor rinks, meaning you can still ice skate without freezing your butt.
Address: West Edmonton Mall is located at 8882-170th Street.
All-day ice skating is $12 and skate rentals are $6.
Wander along Whyte Avenue
Taking a stroll down the beautiful and historic Whyte Avenue located at 82nd Avenue in Old Strathcona is the perfect thing to do in Edmonton on a winter’s day.
It’s always bustling with people and filled with many eclectic shops and restaurants. You can pop into several shops along the way or even stop to see a film at the historic Princess Theatre which is known to be haunted.
Address: 82nd Avenue
See the Glow Gardens
Technically, Glow Gardens are located just outside Edmonton, but they’re phenomenal! The Christmas festival takes place inside the Enjoy Centre in St. Albert, where the sheer amount of lights and light displays are incredibly impressive!
My favourite part of the entire display was the interactive hanging lights. Being there felt like being inside an art display. I really loved it!
Address: Enjoy Centre at 101 Riel Drive in St. Albert
Experience Luminaria at the University of Alberta Botanic Gardens
This is an incredibly popular festival that takes place in the Kurimoto Japanese Garden. The snow-covered pathways are lined with thousands of candles and decorated with incredible ice sculptures. If you haven’t been to the gardens in winter before, be sure to dress warmly as it is an outdoor event!
Address: University of Alberta Botanic Gardens just outside Devon at 51227 AB-60