Although I currently live in Montreal, being born and raised in Edmonton gives me a unique perspective on my visits back, that of the visitor/local. I love returning to my hometown and since my visits often coincide with the holiday season. I have an affinity for this lovely Alberta capital in the winter season. Here I have outlined my ideal winter day in Edmonton, suitable for both the tourist and locals alike.
A great way to kick off the day is with exercise. Although Edmonton winters can get pretty cold, there is no reason to avoid the outdoors at all costs. A skate outside is an excellent way to warm up, enjoy nature and build up your appetite for brunch. While the city has several outdoor ice rinks in various communities, the skating rink at Hawrelak park is an excellent spot to visit for beautiful views of the city’s river valley and a large well-maintained rink.
After your skate, take a short drive along the river over to Sugarbowl. Open since 1943, this cozy restaurant-café hybrid will immediately envelop you with aromas of sweet baked goods, coffee and delicious food upon entrance. Stay for brunch, or just a coffee and a pastry and take in the lovely atmosphere of this Edmonton gem. Situated within historical Edmonton areas, the university district and bustling downtown neighborhoods this restaurant, it is no surprise why Sugarbowl has been a popular spot for several decades.
There is a large variety of winter festivals and events that take place in Edmonton throughout the winter season. This city can have long cold winters, but they choose to embrace it and enjoy what this time of year has to offer.
If you are visiting the city closer to the Christmas season, a walk around Candy Cane Lane is a definite activity to put on your to-do list. An annual tradition for many locals, Candy Cane Lane is a cluster of neighborhoods that pull out all the stops when it comes to Christmas lights and decorations, creating a dazzling display for visitors to feast their eyes on, while basking in the holiday spirit. While driving is allowed, this event is best enjoyed by foot, or sleigh ride, which can be booked ahead of time on the event website. Beginning on December 11th and running until January 3rd, it is held in the west end of the city: 148 Street between 100 Avenue to 92 Avenue. Candy Cane Lane showcases the unique community charm that this large city embodies.
After you’ve skated up a storm, found comfort in a Sugar Bowl brunch, and basked in the glow of Candy Cane Lane, the best way to kick off the evening is with a delicious dinner. The Marc is one of many fine downtown restaurants. Awarded Edmonton’s Best French Restaurant 2016 by Avenue magazine. This spot is ideal for a gourmet meal without the stuffy quality that can be found in their genre of cuisine. They have created a space where one can feel at home, and yet still be amazed at the quality of the food and the talented chefs behind it.
Follow dinner with a light night walk around the Legislature grounds. Here you will find over 300 sparkling trees and incredible views of the city.
Edmonton is truly of a gem of a city, and not one to shy away from due to winter weather. With several events and festivals taking place throughout the cooler season, whether you are a local or visitor every day in this city is full of new opportunities and things to discover.
By Mackenzie Shand