Alberta transforms into a magical, winter wonderland at Christmas, with celebrations for all ages and many indoor and outdoor activities. Check out these 10+ ideas for a Christmas holiday getaway in Alberta and get ready to explore.
1. M&M RanchExperience the hush of freshly fallen snow, pristine snow covered valleys and awe inspiring mountains in the hamlet of Bragg Creek, without any city noise in the background. Stay at “The Barn” at M&M Ranch and enjoy everything the ranch has to offer, such as sleigh and wagon rides, winter hiking, horseback riding, skating, bonfires and trail riding.
2. Red Deer
Sip on hot chocolate as your horse drawn sleigh glides over the frosty snow and through Christmas light displays. After theWinter Night Light Sleigh Tourat Heritage Ranch, head inside to the Westlake Grill, located in the heart of the ranch. Try the Harmony Farms 10 oz striploin served with mashed potatoes, or the smoky Caesar salad, made with capers and grana padano cheese. For some outdoor fun on the slopes, head to Canyon Ski Resort. Stop atSweet Capone’s Bakery and enjoy your lunch or sweets in the café, or take a box to go. If you have any last minute shopping to do, head downtown for theNorth Pole Stroll, a month long celebration of the season. Businesses stay open late, some offer treats and hot drinks, and you can see the beautifully lighted Christmas tree at City Hall.
3. Banff/Lake Louise
Banff has all of the charm of a small town, with big mountain views, world class dining, and unparalleled mountaintop experiences. Spend Christmas at the Castle at Fairmont Banff Springs and enjoy skating, visits with Santa, Christmas dinner, a New Years Eve Gala and events for the whole family, all season long. For a truly relaxing experience, visit the Banff Upper Hot Springs and enjoy the natural mineral hot springs, which are the highest elevated hot springs in Canada. Take a ride to the top of a mountain in the Banff Gondola and enjoy seasonal activities like visits with Santa, cookie decorating, holiday crafts, movies and more!
If you want more adventure, venture out to Johnston Canyon for an icewalk.
If you want a ski vacation, experience Alberta’s three iconic ski resorts, Banff Sunshine, Mt Norquay and Lake Louise Ski Resort through the eyes of a local with SkiBig3’s Guided adventures and immersed in the local ski culture.
Alternatively, spend Christmas at Lake Louise.The Chateau Lake Louise is transformed into a true Christmas wonderland, surrounded by soaring mountain peaks and breathtaking starlit skies. Hike or snowshoe in the mountains, or rent a pair of skates and skate on Lake Louise. Go on sleigh rides, ski at Lake Louise Ski Resort, and enjoy Country Christmas Dinner at Brewster Cowboy’s Barbecue and Dance Barn.
Spend a week in the park and check out all that is on offer at the Park.
Spend a Christmas weekend at Mount Engadine Lodge in Spray Valley National Park. Choose from a private cabin nestled in the trees, or one of the rooms with private balconies overlooking the snow covered valley. Savor the fresh coffee in the morning and a two course breakfast, and then head out for a day of snowshoeing (you can borrow snowshoes from the lodge) or dog sledding.
Couples or small families (max 2 adults 2 children) will loves the luxurious and private Bear and Bison Inn, surrounded by soaring mountain peaks. Enjoy a Christmas concert underground in the heart of Grotto Mountain or visit the Old Tyme Candy Shoppe for seasonal treats and goodies. Visit local staple Crazyweed restaurant for lunch or dinner in the heart of Canmore, and for a truly incomparable view of the mountains, take a helicopter tour of the area.
If you want to explore Kananaskis after dark, join for a Stargazing Tour. Want a work out, hop into the saddle and spin through the Canadian wilderness by fat-bike and visit a frozen waterfall or embrace winter by walking across the thick snow pack instead of through it!
Winter is truly celebrated in Jasper, and you’ll need to come back more than once to experience everything this town has to offer. Spot wildlife and snowy mountain peaks on a Winter Wildlife Safari, organized by Sundog Tours, or try the Maligne Canyon Icewalk and hike to the bottom of Jasper’s deepest accessible canyon to see stunning frozen waterfalls and ice formations.
Stay in a cabin at the Alpine Village Resort, or celebrate the season at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, which has a lighted outdoor skating rink, holiday dinner, and luxury spa. Christmas celebrations include family movies, tobogganing, Santa’s cabin, sleigh and Reindeer, as well as visits with Santa and Mrs. Clause.
If you want a ski vacation, visit Marmot Basin. Spend the day carving fresh powder on one of the 86 ski and snowboard trails, with incredible views of nearby mountains. After a day of snowboarding, skiing, relax at one of three chalets for dinner and drinks.
6. Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park
Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park offers plenty of fun activities including skiing and snowboarding at Hidden Valley Ski Resort, Snow luging ( tobogganing down the hill with snow-packed sides), outdoor skating trail, hiking, cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing, fat biking and winter camping in heated comfort camping units.
7. Winter Lights
The Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden is transformed into an exquisite, lighted winter wonderland for the holidays. Sip on hot chocolate and try the matcha maple cookie as you wander through the frosty paths, lit up with colored lights and glowing lanterns. Children 5 and under are free. For those who would like to spend the night, the gardens have teamed up with several Lethbridge hotels to offer deals on accommodations. Ask for the Friendship Package or Family Package at Coast Hotel and Conference Center, Super 8/Econolodge, or the Sandman Hotel.
8. Waterton Lakes national ParkExperience rugged, natural wilderness of Waterton Lakes National Park during winter.
This season offers good opportunity for wildlife viewing, winter camping, ice climbing, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, and more!
Stay at the historic Prince of Wales Hotel or the picturesque Waterton Lakes Lodge Resort, or the which overlooks the lake and is surrounded by soaring, snow covered mountain peaks and hiking trails. For dining, the lodge offersVimy’s Lounge and Grillor visitors can head into town to the Red Rock Café Trattoria. If you’d like to stay downtown, spend the night, or a few, at the Bayshore Inn Resort and Spa.
9. Rocky Mountain House
Relax in front of a crackling fireplace this Christmas at The Prairie Creek Inn, located in the boreal forest of Rocky Mountain House. Stay in one of the luxurious private rooms, or a spacious cottage with a kitchen and whirlpool tub. You won’t have to leave for dinner as the inn features the celebrated Heartstone Restaurant. Savor the Alberta Beef Tenderloin and try wines and regional offerings from local farms and ranches. If you are feeling adventurous, let the team atKlondike Venturestake you on a dog sledding tour through the snowy landscape outside.
You can head also out toAbraham Laketo see the methane bubbles trapped inside the frozen Lake or explore the frozen waterfalls like Siffleur Falls in Kootenay Plains Ecological Reserve, or Crescent Falls at Crescent Falls Provincial Recreation Area.
Spend Christmas in Edmonton. Have a festive dinner and ride the 100 Street Funicular (directly attached to the hotel courtyard) down the hill and take in the breathtaking views of the snow covered river valley and frozen river. Catch a live theatre show or wander the frozen, hand sculpted Ice Castles in Hawrelak Park. Book a seat on the Edmonton Christmas Lights Tour and relax as you are driven to three of Edmonton’s favorite Christmas light displays, Candy Cane Lane, Christmas at Bob’s, and The Alberta Legislature Grounds. Alternatively, you can explore the Legislature lights on a Segway.
Not a fan of winter? Edmonton is home to a ginormous mall that boasts of a waterpark, amusement park and has indoor fireworks on New Years Eve.
Walk through the dazzling Christmas light display at Calgary Zoo Zoolights, featuring activities for all ages including hot chocolate and a bonfire, axe throwing, and a sugar shack. Visit the Noel Christmas Light Park and Market and experience the 250ft light tunnel, magical indoor light gardens, craft beverages, holiday artisan markets, and visit with Santa. Head out for Christmas Dinner , and if you aren’t tired yet, visit Olympic Plaza once the location of the Olympic medal ceremonies, and now a beautiful outdoor skating rink in winter, with skate rentals available.
Alternatively, you can visit Studio Bell, enjoy a theatre show, take a free tour of Calgary’s brand new library, explore Lougheed House all decked up for Christmas, go tubing at Olympic Park and go on sleigh rides with Horsin’ Around.
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