A list of 18+ family things to do for Christmas holidays/winter break in Edmonton & Alberta Capital Region.
Though most attractions are closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, there are still fun activities that you can do during this winter break.
December 18, 2020 – January 3, 2021
For all other events, see December in Edmonton.
1. See Christmas / Holiday Lights
Go for a winter wonderland drive and enjoy great Christmas displays in Edmonton & Alberta Capital region.
There are many drive-thrus including twinkling Candy Cane Lane, Winter Wonder Forest, and many more!
2. Go on a Scavenger Hunt at Alberta Legislature
Explore the Legislature Grounds through a scavenger hunt, and experience Alberta’s history in a whole new way by going on a scavenger hunt. Find answers to questions like: “Although I am 20 000 000 years old, I have only been Alberta’s official stone for 34 years, What am I?”, “There are 150 imprints of birds on this monument. Which monument is this?” and more!
Make it a festive evening by exploring the Legislature Grounds all aglow with festive lights.
Though a bit pricey (and intended mainly for tourists), why not explore Legislature grounds on a segway. Join for a 60 minute segway adventure through the beautiful legislative grounds and see over 300 trees extravagantly decorated with over 3000 gleaming christmas lights.
3. Celebration of Lights – Drive Thru
Wear your favourite holiday sweater or elf hat and join us at the Celebration of Lights Drive-thru in Sherwood Park! This family-friendly event is entirely free and aims to entertain the whole family with an LED tree show, interactive lighting, holiday music, holiday inflatables, a fire dancer, and friendly characters, as well as a special appearance from both Santa and the Grinch!
4. Birding during Winter/Christmas Bird Count
Why not go on a winter hike around river valley and other Edmonton natural areas and discover birds that winter over locally. See whether your little ones can spot Black-capped Chickadee, Pine Grosbeak, Pileated Woodpecker and other birds.
What are the popular winter birds that you can spot? Can you notice any winter adaptation changes in them? Grab a pair of binoculars, download a bird ID app, and try to name all the birds that you can spot. Do a Christmas Bird Count. If you don’t want to venture outside, do an unofficial count of the birds that visit your bird feeder.
5. Watch The Great Conjunction
Get ready to watch an extraordinary event this holiday season. From December 12 to 28, giant planets Jupiter and Saturn will be in close proximity after centuries. On December 21 Jupiter and Saturn will only be 0.1 degrees apart. This year’s event will be the closest since 1623 and the closest observable since 1226! Don’t miss the Great Conjunction of planets Jupiter and Saturn.
6. Winter at Elk Island National Park
Elk Island National Park is ready to welcome you with lots of different ways to spend the day and create lasting memories. Enjoy snowshoeing, stargazing, Christmas bird Count and more!
7. Go on a Winter Walk
Edmonton is a winter city, but one with some of the largest urban parkland in the world. Checkout some of these 25 places to enjoy walking (or snowshoeing) and hiking during winter in and around Edmonton.
More places for walking:
8. Outdoor Skating
Getting the best of Edmonton in the winter means sharpening your skates! Alberta Capital Region offers so many options for hitting the ice, and so many different types of ice to hit: try out the city’s new Iceways, one of the many frozen ponds (ice needs to be atleat 15 cm thick for safe skating), or pick up a game of shinny at one of the maintained community league rinks.
Get out to the hill and slide in tube park at Edmonton’s iconic river valley ski & snowboard destination since 1911. The tube park is located directly North of the Carpet Lift.
10. Downhill Skiing
Get active, and go skiing and snowboarding at Ski clubs in and around Edmonton: Edmonton Ski Club, Snow Valley Ski Club, Sunridge Ski Area, Rabbit Hill Snow Resort. Ski Hills are closed on Dec 25.
11. Sleigh/Horse Rides
- Iron Horse Turtle Ranch in Sherwood Park offers sleigh or carriage rides.
- If you are looking for an intimate ride for two or want to take your family on a sleigh ride, head to Dick Lauren’s (530048 Range Road 183) to travel over snowy fields than with a sleigh ride.
- Want to enjoy a sunny winter day outside riding a horse through country trails? Visit Putting Horse Ranch, Spruce Grove to your horse through snow-covered fields or walk beside your children as they try to stay astride.
12. Other Outdoor Winter Activities
Enjoy a glorious winter day with family exploring Edmonton and surrounding natural areas by snowshoeing, tobogganing the many hills, skiing down the ski hills (you can even meet Santa) or hiking the many River valley trails.
- Winter in Parkland County
- Winter in St. Albert
- Super Fun Outdoor Winter Activities in and around Edmonton
- Things to Do during Winter in Strathcona County
13. Outdoor Art Works
Looking for something new to do in Edmonton while keeping the recommended physical distance? Check out these Public Art Features! You can see many of them from your car or on a walk around the city. Look for local artists’ work while you’re out and about.
14. Christmas Dinner at Home
There are plenty of options in Edmonton for a delicious festive Christmas dinner for your immediate family only Christmas celebration during these trying times. Support local and choose from one of these take-home Christmas dinners from local restaurants and caterers’ kitchens.
15. Check out some books from the library
Your city’s/town’s recreation department (Edmonton) and local libraries offer plenty of low cost (free programs) during Christmas break. Even though physical locations might be closed, there are plenty of things you can do online.
Get a great book online and read it with your child, OR download an audiobook from EPL (or your town’s library), gather round the fireplace and enjoy listening to the story. The library also holds plenty of holiday programs – check out the calendar and plan to attend a family program.
16. Resolution Run
Join for the annual resolution run with the whole family and squeeze a little more fitness into your busy lives on January 1, even if you can’t follow them through the rest of the year.
17. Online Concerts/Theatres
Enjoy online concerts and theatres during winter break.
18. Explore Canada or the World From Home
19. Visit Edmonton Valley Zoo
Even though all other tourist destinations other than outdoor parks are closed, Edmonton Valley Zoo is open.
At night, enjoy Zoominescence, a Festival of Light hosted by the Valley Zoo Development Society. Walk amidst spectacular exhibition of artistic light installations within the unique setting of the Edmonton Valley Zoo. The festival’s vision is to celebrate light, artistry, imagination and the strong spirit of our community in the winter.
Closed on December 25.
20. Visit a Provincial Park
Don’t miss your chance to explore some of Alberta’s parks this winter.
Banff Outdoor Activities
From late fall to early spring, Banff National Park turns into a winter wonderland, becoming a dreamland for all kinds of winter activities.
While skiing may be why most people head to Banff National Park in the winter, there’s so much more to do than just that. We’ve rounded up 25 winter activities in Banff that aren’t skiing.
Drumheller in Winter
Drumheller is located just northeast of Calgary and a great winter destination for families, or anyone looking to experience breathtaking and unique natural landscapes. While some of the places mentioned might be closed due to the new COVID-19 restrictions, there are plenty to do outdoors during winter in Drumheller.
Visit Waterton National Park
Slightly off the beaten track, located in the southeastern part of the province bordering the United States, Waterton National Park is a stunning area where the prairie meets the mountain. Phenomenal vistas, adventures, animals and experiences await you here. Step away from the busy places and head south to find some peace and quiet amidst the sparkling, snow-covered scenery of Waterton.
Jasper Winter Activities
Surrounded by the spectacular Rocky Mountains, Jasper National Park offers unlimited recreational opportunities during winter — it’s the perfect destination for any outdoor or indoor activity. Whether your passion is snowboarding at Marmot Basin, browsing paintings by local artists at the Jasper Art Gallery, or tasting local craft beer in front of a snapping fire…Jasper has an unforgettable experience just waiting for you!