Everyone knows Canada is a winter wonderland with world-renowned ski resorts and a flurry of adventurous activities on tap. It’s called the Great White North for that very reason.
But it’s not just about the action on the slopes and après-ski, cool travellers can get among a range of seasonal experiences and try something new during Canada’s cooler months.
Fast and Fun Facts
- How to get there: Air Canada flies direct from Australia to Vancouver and onwards to other destinations in Canada. Direct flights are also available with Qantas, and via Nadi on Fiji Airways.
- When to go: Canada’s winter season runs from December to April.
- Ski bunny? Hop over to Whistler Blackcomb, North America’s largest ski resort; Big White; SilverStar; Revelstoke and the boutique Sun Peaks in British Columbia. Check out Destination BC’s Ski Operator Toolkit for all the nitty-gritty details to sell a ski vacay.
- Did you know? The Quebec Winter Carnival is the world’s largest winter festival plus you can also check out Winterlude in Ottawa and Winnipeg’s Festival du Voyageur for wintry fun.
- Frozen fan? See frozen waterfalls transform into real-life glittering towers of ice at Johnston Canyon Icewalk in Banff and Jasper’s Maligne Canyon Icewalk.
- Did you know? In winter, the Rideau Canal in Canada’s capital Ottawa turns into a massive outdoor ice rink. You can also ice-skate across Alberta’s world-famous Lake Louise.
- Yum fact: Winter is the time to try maple taffy as the syrup hardens into a sweet treat on the snow. Watch maple tree tapping at Ontario and Quebec‘s sugar shacks during the sugaring off season from late February to April – a must-do tradition.
All of the lights
Thanks to its prime position in the Arctic Circle, Canada is by far one of the best places on Earth to witness the natural phenomenon of the Aurora Borealis. Catch the Northern Lights dancing across the sky in winter in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Manitoba.
You needn’t go far out of town to see Mother Nature’s lightshow. Stay in a cosy wilderness lodge outside of Whitehorse in the Yukon, or in the subarctic community of Churchill, Manitoba.
Bonus points if you soak up the Northern Lights display from a hot tub. Amp it up at the Eclipse Nordic Hot Springs in the Yukon; Miette Hot Springs in Jasper, Banff Upper Hot Springs and the Ktunaxa Indigenous-owned Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort in the Kootenay Rockies.
For twinkling lights of a different kind, there’s no better place than the Great White North for a Great White Christmas experience. Wear your ugly Christmas sweater at holiday markets and immerse yourself in all the festive fun.
Don’t miss Christmas at the Fairmonts in Alberta (Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, Fairmont Banff Springs and Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge) for a magical smorgasbord of festive dining and traditional activities.
Plus, you can also check out the Euro-style Christmas markets in Toronto, Halifax in Nova Scotia, Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Whitehorse in the Yukon and more.
Let’s go sledding!
Dog-sledding is a pup-ular drawcard (See what we did there?!) in the Canadian wintertime. Discover the outdoors with a team of friendly huskies as you traverse the snowy terrain in the crisp mountain air.
You can mush along with the canines in most of Canada’s mountain resorts and even close to the cities. In British Columbia, take the reins with Mountain Man Dog Sled Adventures at Sun Peaks Resort, or explore the forests and trails around Whistler with a pack of specially bred and excitable Arctic sled dogs.
Further north, drive the sled at Sky High Wilderness Ranch just outside Whitehorse in the Yukon. In Quebec, head to the Laurentians, just an hour from Montreal, and become a musher for a day or a weekend with Laurel Adventure Nature.
Comfort food and winter treats
Cooler weather means comfort food and Canada does it so well. Winter indulgence is on the menu with everything from cheesy deliciousness like poutine to sweet treats such as BeaverTails.
Don’t miss the Winterlicious festival in Toronto, an annual foodie event where 220 local restaurants serve up three-course meals for lunch or dinner across two weeks. Both Toronto and Vancouver now have their own Michelin Guides so you’re guaranteed a fantastic feed in these two multicultural cities.
If you’re in Banff National Park, hit up Banff Avenue, lined with bistros serving everything from hearty fare to regionally and seasonally sourced produce.
French-flavoured Quebec is the spot for European cuisines. Visit Montreal or the Eastern Townships for a gourmet getaway of festive food and full-bodied wines.
Keen to check it out firsthand? You could win a spot on one of two Canada 2023 famils – find out more here.
Want more Canada inspo? Head to keepexploring.com to discover why Canada is the home of winter.
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