While you dream and plan for your next winter adventure, these quirky off-slope Canadian frolics will pique your curiosity and spark your imagination.
Canada does winter like no other destination, with residents eagerly embracing the cold and finding original ways to dive into the snowy white stuff. Case in point: several local National Hockey League players, along with Olympic gold medallist ice skater Patrick Chan, flew to the remote mountains of British Columbia to shoot pucks on a mountaintop rink. Because, why not?
At the sprawling Peller Estates Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, liquid gold awaits at the igloo-like 10-below Icewine Lounge. Constructed out of 13,607 litres of ice, and including an ice bar and ice benches, the lounge is kept at a chilly –10˚C, the ideal temperature for harvesting ice wine grapes.
Here, visitors can sip on the sweet nectar produced from grapes that have been frozen on the vine and learn fascinating facts about Canada’s ice wine industry (did you know Canada produces more ice wine than any country in the world?).
Prepare to be dazzled in David Thompson Country, Alberta, where guests can chase magical ice bubbles (created from water-dwelling bacteria expelling methane gas) and icefalls on an excursion with Pursuit Adventures. Tours begin with a guided snowshoe or winter hike through fragrant pine forest, towards a scenic viewpoint overlooking the Cline River Canyon.
After taking enough pics to set your Insta feed on fire, head into the canyon where you’ll marvel at cascading icefalls and hunt for frozen ice bubbles on Abraham Lake. A picnic lunch, hiking poles, and ice cleats complete the ethereal winter experience.
Tranquility Cove Adventures’ Ice Fishing for Oysters experience treats guests to an all-you-can-eat adventure along the Brudenell River on Prince Edward Island. Participants wield chainsaws and oyster tongs to cut through the ice and reach the coveted crustaceans, then clean, shuck, and eat them beside a blazing bonfire. Since oysters fatten up to hibernate through the colder months, they’re particularly plump and juicy in winter.
The Thrill of the Chill
Niagara Falls, Ontario is particularly beautiful in winter as ice build-up creates the illusion of frozen waterfalls, misty blankets envelope trees, and nightly illumination contributes to a mesmerizing façade as colors that sparkle off the ice. Check out the Thrill of the Chill, a series of itineraries spotlighting the region’s year-round attractions. Perfect for winter touring, these include the spectacular Journey Behind the Falls; the tropical Bird Kingdom and Butterfly Conservatory; and even an indoor waterpark.
Skiing with a Twist
You’re probably familiar with curling… but how about skijoring? Once a mode of Nordic winter travel, the now-competitive sport involves a skier pulled across the snow by horse, dog, or snowmobile. Skijor Canada hosts several skijoring events each year, including the popular SkijorDue in Millarville, Alberta, which features skijoring races and stunts, fondue and poutine, craft beer, and cocktails, and an epic après party.
Take a (Cold) Bath
Fancy a winter swim? There’s nothing quite like ice swimming for a rejuvenating pick-me-up – and it’s no quick dip. The extreme sport involves distance swimming in water –5˚C or colder, with serious competitors aiming to complete the ambitious Ice Mile in frigid waters. Fun fact: the International Ice Swimming Association aims to grow ice swimming into a globally recognized Olympic sport. Take the plunge in Lake Ontario, Joffre Lake in BC, or Beachy Cove in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
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