Sticking to a budget can be rough. We've all been there. If it feels like your bank account isn't allowing you to live your best life, take a deep breath. Relax. We're here to help. Hey, dogs have no money, and look how happy they are!
Lucky for you, winter is the perfect time to make your own fun. Go ahead and bookmark this post—we've got your guide to free things to do in Edmonton, winter edition.
Festivals, Festivals, Festivals
They call us festival city for a reason, and many of Edmonton's winter festivals are, you guessed it, free. Flying Canoe Volant (February 2-3) and Silver Skate (February 9-19) won't cost you a dime, while The Canadian Birkebeiner (February 9-11) is completely free to watch. For a donation of your choice, you can check out SkirtsAfire from March 8-11 too. Whether you're practicing sun salutations to live cello music amidst the gallery art, or enjoying the main stage play, The Romeo Initiative, you can't help but feel inspired at this festival.
Skate in the Great Outdoors
Discover the adrenaline rush of skating outside at one of Edmonton’s renowned outdoor rinks, surrounded by gorgeous snow-covered winter scenery. Hawrelak Park (9330 Groat Road), Victoria Park Oval (12130 River Valley Road) and Rundle Park (113 Avenue and 29 Street) are just a few of the outdoor rinks that are free if you have your own skates, and Swing 'N' Skate at City Hall (every Sunday from 1:00pm-4:00pm this January and February) is completely free including rink time, live music, and skate rentals on a first come, first serve basis.
To the Market We Go
City Market Downtown is a great place to spend a Saturday morning or afternoon, even if you don't plan on making a purchase. Produce, hand-made jewellry, clothing, art and unique home goods are all worth perusing, and you can also see free entertainment like street performers and live musicians. The market calls City Hall its home during the winter, and will move out to 104th Street when things warm up!
Loving Art Don't Cost a Thing
Appreciating art never felt so right, or so free. Head to Churchill Square and the swirling structure of glass and steel known as the Art Gallery of Alberta for an evening of inspiration. Admission is free on All Access Evenings: Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 5:00-8:00pm. Looking for more? Take yourself on a tour of the incredible independent art galleries down 124th Steet. From modern cubists to contemporary rebels, some of Edmonton’s most diverse and controversial art is found here.
Check Out the New Funicular
Funicular? More like FUN-icular! Getting from downtown to the city's vast network of river valley trails is more accessible than ever before. The new 100 Street Funicular is a perfect way to start a walk from downtown, or to journey from the valley floor up the slope to Edmonton's vibrant core. Bring along a thermos of hot chocolate, and you're in business. The lookout gives you a beautiful view of the frozen river, while making the perfect spot for an impromptu photoshoot.
Speaking of Impromptu Photoshoots...
Winter in Edmonton is beyond instagrammable. Spend an afternoon or evening hitting up the city's most photogenic spots including The Neon Sign Museum, The High Level Bridge, Gallagher Park (9505 96 Avenue), Ezio Farone Park (11004 97 Avenue) and the new Walterdale Bridge—and don't forget to use #ExploreEdmonton! The grounds at The Alberta Legislature are also perfect for an outdoor photoshoot, and you can even stop in for a free tour of this iconic landmark.
A Slice of History
After touring The Legislature, you're bound to have a renewed thirst for history. Lucky for you, and your wallet, your next stop is McKay Avenue School (10425 99 Avenue). Step back in time and enjoy free admission for the whole family at this Edmonton landmark that illuminates Albertan and Canadian political history. Then, swing over to The Telephone Historical Centre which offers drop-ins by donation. Located in the beautiful Prince of Wales Armouries within minutes of downtown, this interactive museum preserves and displays the history of telecommunications from Alexander Graham Bell to cell phones.
Winter is Your Playground
Winter warriors, prepare yourselves for battle! Obviously, safety first kids, it's all in good fun. Organizing a snowball fight with friends in Hawrelak Park (9330 Groat Road), Rundle Park (113 Avenue and 29 Street), or Gallagher Park (9505 96 Avenue) is maybe the most quintessentially winter thing you can do. Build a snow fortress, gather a stockpile of resources (aka snowballs), and make your plan of attack... or take a break and build a friendly snowman, or make a heavenly snow angel. Bring along a toboggan to fill your day with awesome winter-only activities.
Hyyge-Style Winter Picnic
Though there are many ways to describe hygge, think of it as the Danish art of enjoying life's simple pleasures. Revel in the beauty of the season at your own Hyyge-style winter picnic in Gold Bar Park or Capilano Park. Make sure you wear plenty of layers, and pack a thermos of hot apple cider, tea, or hot chocolate. You've been good with the budget so far, so go ahead and treat yourself with a chocolate bar from Jacek Chocolates (we recommend The Jackie), a wheel of Sylvan Star Cheese (available at the Old Strathcona Farmers Market), and a fresh classic baguette from La Boule.