With a lot less snow than usual, it may not look like winter in Edmonton, but there are lots of activities — many free or low-cost — to make it feel like winter.
“The biggest thing is that we don’t have snow,” said Patricia Rooker, who works in the city’s operation program delivery and partnerships department.
“You might be surprised to know the rinks are up and running because we don’t have snow but the temperatures have been there for us to have the opportunity to make the ice, and the ski hills are making snow at night. So … not much has changed. It just doesn’t look the same.”
City crews are getting creative with a milder winter. For instance, shaved ice was used to create a foundation for the outdoor ice rink at the Victoria Park Oval.
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There are a number of winter recreation programs too:
- Free hot chocolate and warming fires (Fridays and Saturdays 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.)
- Snowshoeing and snow fort building (Saturday 2 p.m. – 6 p.m.)
- Castle Downs by the ice rink
- Laurier Park
- Rundle Park
- Victoria Park
- Kicksledding (Saturday 2 p.m. – 6 p.m.)
- December-January (Victoria Park)
- February (Rundle Park)
- March (Victoria Park)
- Cross-country skiing at Gold Bar Park.
- Art and light display at Borden Park.
- Skating at city hall.
And, new this year, the city is offering free ice bikes, which have a stabilized skate instead of a front wheel, on Fridays and Saturdays at Laurier Park.
The city also runs Play Rangers programs on Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Whitemud Park and Emily Murphy Park (in December) and at Whitemud Park (January-March). They’re free family-oriented outdoor programs for children aged six to 12.
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There is also a photo contest to help get Edmontonians into the winter spirit while bringing some light to their neighbourhoods.
“Winterscapes is a program the City of Edmonton facilitates. It’s a photo contest for people to submit pictures of their front yards or public spaces that are decorated with lights, ice sculptures, snow sculptures — when there’s snow — or snow art and other ways of creating art in the winter months,” Rooker said.
The three categories are winter art, winter play and winter lights.
“It’s kind of a combination of helping people have activities to be outdoors in our winter city and having activities to do in colder weather. But how much fun it can be when you’re bundled up with the right layers on. It also provides you with an opportunity to be doing stuff that kind of brightens the neighbourhood,” Rooker said.
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Snowshoeg and stargaze at Elk Island
Lucion Spheres – Moongarden at Churchill Square
Servus Community Fridays at Snow Valley
Seasonal lights at the Alberta Legislature
Candy Cane Lane
City Hall plaza ice grooves
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The city has been researching ways to continue winter activities long-term, even if a changing climate means winters trend warmer.
For instance, staff have started looking into what kinds of ice surfaces are possible in the river valley, options for shade and maintenance and even looking at alternative ice materials.
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