Hiding at home is not an option this winter. Venture out this winter with our picks of the best things to do in downtown Edmonton.
Chill in the coldest room in Alberta
Most of us are happy using vodka as a mix, but the Canadian Icehouse located in the Ice District has come up with an icy way to for us to enjoy the spirit as it’s meant to be – straight up and ice cold. The Iceroom is kept at an, ahem, brisk -35 Celsius thanks to “insulation” of snow and ice. This is used to keep the vodka as cold as possible, and the flavours as close as possible to what the distillers want you to taste. You pay your admission fee of $29.99, and are taken through a flight of vodkas with a local spirits expert. You will get a sanitized goose-down jacket and mittens before you go in. Remember, it’s a dry cold!
Pick your favorite ice sculpture
The coolest arts competition in the city has moved to downtown this year. Edmonton’s International ice carving competition, now known as Chiseled, brings together the top ice-sculpting teams in the world. Competitors from places as far off as Iraq, the Philippines and Malaysia will compete at the Ice District Plaza, beginning Jan. 24. Starting with some rather intimidating 300-lb blocks of ice, each team will use picks, chainsaws, torches and a variety of other tools to create stunning ice sculptures. They have 34 hours to finish the job, and you can watch them work, or wait until Jan. 27th, when the finished sculptures will be revealed and judged. Of course, you can pick your own personal favourite and vote for it in the people’s choice awards. These are really stunning when the sun goes down, as lighting effects make the ice sculptures literally glow in the dark. The sculptures will be available for viewing in the plaza until end of February, weather permitting.
Strap on a pair of snowshoes
Have you always wanted to try snowshoeing? Or maybe you haven’t done it since that Grade 6 field trip. At River Valley Adventure Co., you can rent snowshoes for $9/hour or $27/day. And, if you don’t want to go out on your own, the company also offers guided snowshoe tours. An expert will take you out for a walk — and there’s no need to be intimidated. The tour goes at your pace, and the guide is there to give you some great tips about the best trails in Edmonton’s river valley for snowshoeing. Book your adventure now.
Lace up a pair of ice skates
OK, none of us are going to have afterburners on our heels and skate like Connor McDavid, but you can enjoy a twirl around the ice — both indoors and out in downtown Edmonton. The rink at the Ice District Plaza is open 10 am to 10 pm seven days a week— and, while you need to bring your own skates, there is a certain magic to skating under the lights. And, you’re just outside the entrance to Rogers Place, and, maybe best of all, there are a number of bars and restaurants just a few strides away in the plaza for your post skate refreshment.
Keeping things outside, ice skating at City Hall Plaza is an Edmonton tradition. If you haven’t done it since you were a kid or don’t own skates, there are free skate rentals on Fridays, Saturday and Sundays throughout January and February, thanks to the Edmonton Arts Council. The Oilers and Oil Kings often use the Downtown Community Rink, located inside of Rogers Place, for practice sessions. But the ice surface, located on the north side of the arena, is open for drop-in skating Thursday and Saturday evenings (7-8 p.m), and there’s a drop-in Downtown Community League skate session from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sundays.
Get lost in a snow maze
You’ve heard of corn mazes, right? Well how about a massive snow maze smack dab in the city? The Oilers Entertainment Group has erected the city’s first snow maze. It’s located just east of Rogers Place, and it’s open Thurs.-Sun. till Jan. 29. Aside from the maze, there’s a slide and an ice rink for your skating pleasure. This is an event where advance tickets are recommended, as certain time slots do sell out, especially on game nights. Book your tickets online.