As the chill of winter sweeps across the prairies, our memories of summer water sports seem distant. But instead of reminiscing of warm days spent by the water, why not warm your heart with one of Canada’s favourite winter activities? It’s that time of year where we dig through our storage to grab our skates. Waterbodies across the prairies are solidifying into stunning crystallized rinks for us to glide on. To make the most of this season, lace up your skates and twirl your way across the prairies’ most beautiful and inviting skating rinks.
Winnipeg hosts the impressive Red River Mutual Trail that reached 10 km in length last year! This expansive skating rink is the longest IN THE WORLD! Even longer than the Rideau Canal. There was also a Guiness World Record broken on this rink for the longest skating chain, with close to 400 people holding hands while skating. The trail is speckled with unique and architecturally impressive warm-up tents, as well as food vendors and ice activities such as curling hockey, and broomball. This year they are building Pavillion Sub-Zero, an amphitheatre on the rink that will be featuring music, including that of Norwegian ice musician Terje Isunget. Check out the winning hut designs for 2019 here! The skating trail is located at the fork of the Red River and Assiniboine River, hosting over 4 million visitors every year.
Skating in Saskatoon is a splendid sight. One of Canada’s most spectacular rinks must be the Cameco Meewasin Skating Rink. Overlooking the South Saskatchewan River valley, this Bessborough rink is beloved by Saskatonians and tourists alike. Don’t have a pair of skates? Never fear! This rink has on-the-spot skate rentals by donation. Getting chilly? There’s a warming shack with a wood stove to defrost your toes. Test out your triple axels (or just try not to fall) on this well-lit rink in the heart of Saskatoon. It opened on December 18th, so now the only thing missing from this picturesque rink is you!
The 1988 Calgary Olympics didn’t only bring home 5 medals for Canada (shoutout to our President Karen Percy Lowe for winning 2 of them), it also brought some famous infrastructure. What was once the Olympic medal ceremony venue is now one of Calgary’s most beloved skating rinks. The Olympic Plaza, located in downtown Calgary, is still used for activities year-round! You never have to worry if it’s cold enough in the winter, thanks to the refrigerated surface ensuring skating from November to March. The urban setting makes for lovely scenery framed by skyscrapers and public art. Grab a warm beverage from one of the numerous cafés in the area (Phil & Sebastian, Rosso Coffee Roasters, Deville, Good Earth…) and skate to your heart’s content!
Edmonton has a majestic rink straight out of a fairytale. Skate your way through the river valley along the tree-lined Victoria Park Iceway. At night, the colourful lights guide you through the twisted path off of the Victoria Park Oval. This magical maze is nestled in the forest of Victoria Park, overlooking the North Saskatchewan River while being a short distance from downtown Edmonton. Be sure to bring a camera, because the kaleidoscopic lights make for some stunning pictures!
It sounds like a dream to skate while surrounded by 360 degrees of towering mountains. The spectacular Lake Louise freezes in the winter to become the ultimate winter wonderland! If you’ve ever visited during the summer, it is dramatically different when frozen, but just as spectacular. The summer’s turquoise waters transform into pristine ice. This wanderlust-fantasy-come-true is situated in Banff National Park. It comes as no surprise that this skating rink has been named the World’s Best Skating Rink. You can enjoy the majestic mountainous backdrop during the day, or under the twinkling stars (and rink lights) at night. If the Rockies aren’t picturesque enough for you, they also build an ice castle from blocks of ice directly on the skating rink every year.