You may think that winter is boring because you’d always have to be indoors. That’s a common misconception. In Manitoba, winter is a great time to explore nature, have fun and be active. Taking part in winter activities will not only entertain you, it will help you acclimatize to the weather. Getting used to cold temperatures will help your body adjust faster and keep away those winter blues.
When I came to Manitoba, one of my goals was to learn how to ice skate on my first year. But because of priorities like finding a place to live, looking for a job and other such concerns, I never got around to it. This year is the year to do it! If you’re interested in ice skating too, check out:
- The City of Winnipeg Community Centres – The Learn to Skate program offers 10 weeks of lessons (30 minute classes) with trained instructors. You will need skates, a snow suit and a helmet. Check the Leisure Guide Skating Brochure for more information.
- Free skating programs from Settlement Provider organizations – Organizations like IRCOM and Mosaic Newcomer Family Resource Network offer free skating lessons to immigrants during the season (usually around Feb-Mar).
- Here’s a list of indoor and outdoor skating ponds and rinks all over the city: Winter Skating, and of course at The Forks where there are cozy warming huts waiting for you along the trail. Always check these sites before you go to know which facilities or trails are open.
Aside from ice skating, here are other great winter activities you can try:
Fun in the snow
Have you tried building a snowman in your backyard yet? When there’s enough snow (and there’s never been a lack of it in Manitoba), you can also try having snowball fights. Even just walking around in the neighbourhood is a great way to de-stress and take in some fresh air. Make sure to wear proper winter clothes when you try these activities!
- Sleigh rides – Sightseeing in the comfort of a sleigh pulled by horses is one of the best winter experiences one could have. In Winnipeg, free sleigh rides are offered to families (15 minute loops) at St. Mary’s Nursery and Garden Centre. There are also sleigh rides at Assiniboine Zoo, Bird’s Hill Park or the Forks and horse-drawn wagon rides at the Oak Hammock Marsh in Stonewall. This activity is offered usually from November to January.
- Tobogganing – Get a toboggan at a grocery, hardware or even a dollar store near you. Next, find a hill in your neighbourhood (in Winnipeg, use this list: hills and slides). Then, hike up to the top of the hill. Finally, sit on your toboggan, hold on for dear life, and slide down. Reset and repeat! It’s great fun for the kids and an awesome cardio workout for the young at heart.
- Snowshoeing, skiing and skijoring – The best places to experience snowshoeing for free is at Fort Whyte Alive or at the Living Prairie Museum. Equipment is provided on a first-come-first-served basis. Just be ready with your winter boots. Both places hold their free events in January. Check announcements or go to their sites to check exact dates. You can also try cross-country skiing at Fort Whyte. However, skiing will need a bit more of skill than snowshoeing. For lessons, you can check out Windsor Park Nordic Centre. For cross country ski trails in Winnipeg, see this list: cross country skiing. You can also try skijoring, which is also cross-country skiing but with a team of dogs.
- Crockicurl – This is a unique outdoor game that combines two Canadian pastimes – crokinole and curling (read What is crokinole? Canada’s lesser-known sports, games and pastimes to know more). You can play crokicurl with your friends for free at The Forks. If you need a guide, you can find the rules of the game beside the rink. You can also watch an ongoing game to see how it’s done.
- Ice climbing – If you like rock climbing or if you’re just the adventurous type, go to Whittier Park (141 Messager St. in St. Boniface, Winnipeg) and try scaling its three-sided ice tower, known to be Canada’s largest at 20 metres. The activity costs around $40 (2019). The season starts at the end of December until March.
- Ice fishing – With its many lakes, many Manitobans are naturally into ice-fishing. You’ll learn a popular Canadian pastime, plus you’ll experience Manitoba’s vast ice-scapes that will leave you in awe. The season starts around late January. You will need to get a fishing licence before you go. Know more about ice fishing here: Manitoba 2019 Anglers’ Guide.
Newcomer guide to ice fishing, CBC Manitoba
Go to Winter festivals
There are many celebrations and festivals in Manitoba from November to early May. Enjoy various sports, music, arts, cultural and even historical activities all over the province that will excite, entertain and enlighten you. Go to: Manitoba’s Winter Festivals for a list.
Relax at a spa
Have you tried Thermea yet? The best time to go to this spa is in winter because of the hot pools and saunas, massage and tea! However, many go to Thermea to experience the polar dip (a cold pool you dip into before you go to the hot pool) which is said to have therapeutic effects. Bring a swimsuit and flip flops as well as a bathrobe (you can also rent one for the day) for a great day of self-care and pampering!
If you’ve had enough of the cold outdoors, there are always great activities indoors. Thrill-seekers will have a great time at escape rooms, indoor kart tracks, or watching hockey games at the MTS Centre on Portage. Manitoba’s awesome museums are always open to enlighten. Visit the Assiniboine zoo, tour the Manitoba Legislative Building, or go to your Community Centre to get some exercise or socialize. Soon you won’t even mind the minus whatever temperature. Stay active and have fun in winter!
Sources: 10 unique winter activities you have to try in Winnipeg Manitoba, Tamara Elliot, Globe Guide; 10 fun Winnipeg winter activities, Frank Motors Team; and Free winter activities around Winnipeg, Winnipeg.ca. Accessed November 8, 2019.
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