Now I’m not against skiing or snowboarding, in fact I am still determined to become a snowboarder. But its an expensive hobby and can be difficult to learn. When I arrived in Canada last November I took every opportunity I could to get out the winter wonderland I had found myself in. But with only a few snowboarding lessons under my belt from over a decade ago, I didn’t feel confident hitting the slopes. This got me wondering what other winter activities were out there?
It didn’t take long for me to discover that there was plenty for me to do. Below are my 5 favourite winter activities to do that are not skiing. And my wish list of things to try!
- Ice Skating
Skating is a complete classic when it comes to winter activities. It was one of the first things we did in Calgary as many Canadian cities have free public skating rinks during the winter months, making it a great activity that doesn’t break the bank. Myself and Matt skated at Olympic Plaza in downtown Calgary. It’s a small rink surrounded by pretty Christmas lights and is usually open from November to mid-March. There was a small fee for boot rental but nothing too expensive. A tip if you are new to skating or a novice like me, opt for hockey skates rather than figure skating boots. They are more supportive around the ankles and feel much sturdier. Just make sure those laces are tied tight!!
More recently, I went skating as part of works Christmas party. Initially this worried me. I was going skating with real Canadians who must have more experience on the ice than me. However, after about five mins it was clear that not all Canadians can skate, and I felt much better. This time it was in downtown Halifax at the Emera Oval skating rink. In addition, not only was it free to skate, but boot rental was also free!
Both times were successes with no falling over or broken bones. Yay!
- Fat Tire Biking
This was on my list of things to do in Canada before I had even left the UK. It just looks so cool! I love riding my bike all over the place at home, so I felt that this was a winter activity I could easily achieve. Having done some research, I found a great company called Kananaskis Outfitters ( https://kananaskisoutfitters.com/) who do Fat Tire Tours and rentals at reasonable prices.
I struggled at first when biking as the altitude was so much higher than at home (Shrewsbury has an elevation of 71 meters whereas Kananaskis is 3185 meters above sea level) and going uphill was challenging work. But it was so worth it to be able to come downhill and feel the wind blow through your hair. We had a great guide who was extremely understanding and patient with me as I struggled through the deeper snow and up the hills. He even provided tea and cookies midway as encouragement. A wonderful day all round!
Walking around various places is one of my top things to do. It easy, cheap and can lead you anywhere. Now depending on where you are hiking in winter can still be extremely enjoyable. In Alberta we frequently hiked to see frozen waterfalls and lakes. It often felt safer than hiking in the summer as animal tracks were easy to spot and all the bears were tucked away hibernating.
Don’t forget to check the weather reports before leaving, no one wants to get caught in a storm. Wear appropriate clothing and footwear. I slipped a lot during a trip to Johnston Canyon in April (although I wasn’t the only one, there was a local gentleman who was sliding around more than me!). Being properly equipped always make winter hiking far more enjoyable.
This is an activity I loved to do back home when I was younger. For those of who don’t know, you sit in a big rubber ring a slide down a slope. Essentially, the winter version of a water slide. There is no skill involved all you need to do is let gravity do its work, easy-peasy! It’s a great one to do with a group of friends as you can race each other to the bottom. In the UK I used to go to the Snowdome, Tamworth which was indoors so you didn’t even really feel this chill too much.
This activity is technically still on my to-do list but is one of the fastest growing winter sports, even though I’d never even heard of it before leaving for Canada. Since being here it has been recommended to me by many people. It’s an easy sport to learn and relatively safe as it’s basically walking in big shoes. Furthermore, it can be quite inexpensive. Many places rent during the winter months at low prices. I have found that my local community centre provides FREE snowshoe rental which I will be taking full advantage of this winter. I will upload images of my experience in the new year along with how I got on with my newest winter activity.
What’s your favourite winter activity? Or do you prefer to stay indoors with a warm hot chocolate? Let me know in the comments 😊
I’ll be doing my favourites again this winter along with attempting to snowboard again!