Free Things to Do in Winter in Edmonton
Calling all penny-pinchers and thrift seekers! Edmonton's winter magic goes far beyond the holiday season, with budget-friendly adventures around every corner. It might be cold outside, but you don't have to freeze your bank account to enjoy these free (or cheap) activities and events!
The Beautiful River Valley
North America's largest stretch of urban parkland offers plenty of paths, especially in the winter! The North Saskatchewan River Valley has over 150 km of trails perfect for walking, hiking, or even cycling (just make sure you've got some big tires). For a unique two-wheeled experience, River Valley Adventure Co. offers winter Segway tours. Explore the winding tails like you've never seen them before!
Winter is also a great time to explore the Edmonton Commonwealth Walkway! This trail includes paths to many landmarks around the city and is supplemented by stories, images, and audio clips, all connected to Medallions along the walkway.
Blaze Your Own Trail
If you're after something more off the beaten path, give snowshoeing or cross-country skiing a try! Whether you're exploring the trails along the river or trekking through the park systems that run through the heart of the city, the snow is your canvas.
Looking for snowshoe or ski rentals? Totem Outdoor Outfitters has you covered with a wide selection of gear for adults and kids alike.
Festivals Fo' Free
We're known as Canada's Festival City for a reason, and winter is no exception. There are tons of festivals and events happening during the chilly months, including some that are completely free to attend!
Kick off the new year with light installations, ice sculptures, cultural stories, street hockey and Deep Freezer races at Deep Freeze: A Byzantine Winter Festival! Step into Alberta Avenue District to experience Ukrainian, French Canadian, Franco African, Indigenous (Métis, Inuit, Cree), Latin American and Asian cultures, all deeply woven into the fabric of this historic neighbourhood.
Glide along the city's largest skating pond at Silver Skate Festival! Experience magnificent winter artwork at the Waiward Snow Sculptures Garden, explore the spectacular Folk Trail, learn about Indigenous culture through storytelling, and much more. While you're there, don't forget to check out the International Festival of Winter Cinema to watch some amazing Canadian films, all viewed on a giant snow screen! Now that's pretty cool.
February 10 - 20
Have you heard the legend of The Flying Canoe? Portage over to Edmonton's French Quarter this March to experience Flying Canoë Volant, a multi-day celebration of French-Canadian, First Nation, and Métis culture. Enjoy the colourfully-illuminated trails of the Mill Creek Ravine, and head to the Edmonton Ski Club on March 4 & 5 for the iconic Flying Canoë Volant Races!
February 1- 4
Skate the Day Away
There's nothing more Canadian than lacing up a pair of skates and striding off on an icy pond, rink, or trail. Go for a skate at any of Edmonton's classic spots. From the artfully-lit Victoria Park IceWay to the scenic downtown rink in Churchill Square, or the five-hectare lake at Hawrelak Park, there are plenty of places to get your skate on!
Be sure to visit the City of Edmonton website for the latest on rink openings and ice conditions.
Attend a free public skate at one of Edmonton's outdoor rinks, such as the Victoria Park Oval or the City Hall Plaza.
Hills for days
Wanna go fast? Cruise down some of Edmonton's best hills on your toboggan, sled, or crazy carpet. Feel the brisk wind nip at your cheeks as you race down the scenic Gallagher Park hill, the historic Government House Park hill, or the thrilling Rundle Park slopes. We recommend wearing helmets and the appropriate outerwear (something with flames to make you go faster, obviously).
Once you're finished your ice-capades, warm up with a hot chocolate from a nearby local coffee shop. It's the kind of day that frosty dreams are made of!
Immerse yourself in art
Feeling creative? Looking for some inspiration? The Art Gallery of Alberta (AGA) is the perfect place to indulge your senses with over 6,000 contemporary and historical works from celebrated Canadian artists. Expand your perspectives (without hurting your wallet) with free admission to the AGA from 4:00-7:00pm on the last Thursday of every month. Book in advance through the AGA website!
Learn Without Limits
Spend a few hours getting lost in the pages of a great story! The Edmonton Public Library is a lender of information and entertainment, with the Stanley A. Milner Library located in the heart of downtown. This library features a huge collection of books, magazines, DVDs, and other resources. There are a ton of comfortable spaces to relax in, whether you want to curl up with a good book or hunker down in a quiet study room. The library also hosts a bunch of awesome programs and events that are open to everyone.
Visit the Alberta Legislature Building and take a free tour to learn about the history and architecture of the province's iconic landmark. The Legislative Assembly of Alberta welcomes visitors to the Legislature Building, offering tours to introduce guests to Alberta’s legislative process. Take in the scenery of this historic building while learning something new, all for free!
Make a little go a long way
Don't mind spending a few bucks? There are plenty of ways to have fun this winter without completely breaking the bank! If you're after some sweet food and drink discounts, we've got you covered. Experience Whyte Avenue's historic culinary scene with the Explore Edmonton Old Strathcona Dining Pass, devour some delectable downtown dishes with the Explore Edmonton Downtown Dining Pass, or peruse some new brews with the Explore Edmonton Brewery Pass. These passes are a great way to experience our city's best eats and drinks while keeping some of that precious cash in your pockets.
Bookworms, rejoice! If you like to spend those dark winter evenings cuddled up with a book, there are plenty of amazing used book stores in the city. Discover your next great read at Wee Book Inn or Daisy Chain Book Co. and get the best bang for your book!
If you're searching for more winter adventures, look no further than Elk Island National Park, a serene destination located just a short drive outside the city. You'll discover a treasure trove of winter activities including animal watching, cross-country skiing, and some of the best stargazing our province has to offer. Grab the family and head out on an incredible adventure at this natural wonderland!