5 Canadian Winter Festivals You Cannot Miss
Trip Ideas & Guides, Winter Road Trips
By Kilee LeBlanc
Looking to add some truly winter festivities to your next trip? Well, you’re in luck as there are so many fun and exciting Canadian winter festivals to choose from in British Columbia and Alberta! While many are centered around skiing and snowboarding (Canada’s favourite winter pastime other than hockey), others simply celebrate the joys of winter in Canada. So go ahead and book your Escape campervan from Calgary or Vancouver, pack your toque and long johns, and gear up for festivals to whet any winter lover’s appetite.
Peak of Christmas at Grouse Mountain, North Vancouver, British Columbia
From November 22 to January 5th, North Vancouver’s Grouse Mountain has a plethora of festive events and activities to keep the whole family entertained. A mountain top ice skating rink, real reindeer, sleigh rides, Christmas movies in the theatre, Santa’s workshop, a sliding zone, and a light walk will truly get you into the festive spirit. The ski runs are also running and offer excellent views over the city of Vancouver and beyond. Visit at night for a magic night skiing experience, sip hot chocolate around the bonfire, and see the big man himself.
Dates: November 22 – January 5, 2020
Hours of Operation: 8:45 AM – 10:00 PM
Price: $59/adult for the Peak of Christmas experience. $72/adult for a ski lift ticket which includes the Peak of Christmas experience.
Whistler Ski & Snowboard Festival in Whistler, British Columbia
Every Spring, Whistler plays host to a giant winter-inspired party through the Whistler Ski & Snowboard Festival. The five days are filled with all things skiing and snowboarding, with a mix of arts, culture, music, and camaraderie. Concerts fill the stages day and night, ski and snowboard competitions take place, film and photo competitions inspire and motivate, and the parties are legendary.
While a majority of the events are free, some require tickets to attend. It’s a great time to visit Whistler to spend your days enjoying the mountain, rubbing shoulders with athletes and partying until the early morning.
Dates: April 15 – 19, 2020
Price: Mostly free with some ticketed events
Rossland Winter Carnival in Rossland, British Columbia
For a truly unique festival experience with small-town vibes, check out the Rossland Winter Festival from January 24 – 27. It is Canada’s oldest winter festival (since 1898!) that features an infamous bobsled race down the main street, live music, a parade, a variety show, a beer garden, local food, a pyrotechnics show, clinics, and more. It may be the most random and wonderful festival you’ve ever attended showcasing the glorious community spirit of this tiny town.
Dates: January 24 – 27, 2020
Price: Mostly free with some ticketed events.
Coldsmoke Powder Festival at Whitewater Ski Resort, Nelson, British Columbia
In the beautiful town of Nelson, British Columbia, a festival of all things backcountry takes place at Whitewater Ski Resort on February 21 – 23. Receive expert instruction and guiding in the backcountry of the resort or take an in-bounds clinic to learn new skills. There’s a ski mountaineering race for those wanting to get hardcore or watch the pros huck themselves off cliffs in the brand new freestyle competition – The Powder Crown. Demo the latest and greatest backcountry gear for free, and round it all out with a good old fashioned Bush Party.
Dates: February 21 – 23, 2020
Price: Ranges for the cost of clinics, how many beers you’re drinking, and if you want to enter any competitions.
Ice Magic Festival in Lake Louise, Alberta
Be blown away at the artistry and technique of master ice carvers from around the world who create massive displays for your viewing enjoyment at the stunning Lake Louise. Walk through a winter wonderland of ice castles, ice bars, and ice sculptures at the iconic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. Watch the carvers go head to head in one-hour competitions, one block competitions, and for the grand prize at the International Carving Competition.
Dates: January 15 – 26, 2020
Price: Monday to Friday it’s free to attend; Saturday and Sunday it’s free before 10:00 AM or after 5:30 PM. Otherwise, it costs money to watch the competitions on weekends ($13/adult).
Winter may seem like a dreadful time to some, but to Canadians, winter is celebrated and is actually a season most of us look forward to. Outdoor opportunities are endless so long as you dress appropriately and stay warm (hot chocolate with Baileys helps too).
With Escape Campervan depots in both Vancouver and Calgary, going to Canadian winter festivals has never been easier and definitely offers an alternate solution to overpriced hotel nights at ski resorts. Plan ahead by finding RV parks with hookups (to plug in that space heater), bring lots and lots of warm layers, and take advantage of the local rec centres to warm up in their hot tubs and showers. You’ll be skiing and adventuring all day anyways – and having a campervan allows you to explore all the great resorts British Columbia and Alberta have to offer.