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6 inexpensive ways to have winter fun in Calgary
Written by Joanne Elves
You really didn’t think the earth could get so dang cold – did you? Yes, Calgary is a great place to be in the summer, but the winter can be a challenge for outdoor adventure. You don’t need to be brave to go outside when the temperatures dip below zero. You just have to be smart about what you wear and what you do. Here’s some tips from SnowSeekers to help you get outside and enjoy Calgary’s winter wonderland.
Start your adventure by dressing for the weather conditions. Layers, proper fabrics and more layers are the keys to staying warm. A fast way to have enough to cover you from head to toe is to check the shelves and racks at second-hand stores. Calgary has lots of second-hand shops to help you find clothes without spending too much money.
A list of local stores to check and brand names that create quality winter outerwear is in the SnowSeekers feature story.
Find second-hand sporting equipment
Kids grow way to fast to invest in brand new equipment. And even more important, you have to decide if you are committed to the sport before you spend top dollars on new skates, skis or snowboards. Check the stores like Play It Again Sports and 2nd Chance Sports for skates and all things skating.
The Calgary Ski Club annual ski sale in late October is your absolute best place to pick up ski and snowboard equipment. They have rack upon rack of new and used equipment at discount prices with volunteers who know their stuff ready to help. (secret tip…the last day of the sale, much of the used gear is half price!)
Start your mountain adventures at WinSport
The mountains are calling but before you stand at the top of a mountain peak and mutter, “What the heck have I got myself into!!!” gain some confidence and learn to ski or snowboard at WinSport. There are lessons every day for every ability. Check it out here. When you’ve mastered that, check out the fun at the closest mountain resorts to Calgary including Nakiska and Mount Norquay. Both have excellent learning areas. Check out Norquay for their Family Pack.
Once you have mastered the local ski resorts – there are hundreds more to conquer. Check out SnowSeekers for all the resorts in Western Canada.
Skate your way around Calgary
If you are new to skating, a cheap way to start is by pushing a chair along the ice until you find your balance. Check out your local community for lessons or try Winsportwhere there are lessons for every ability.
Volunteers are out there in the wee hours of the night adding a fresh layer to rinks throughout the communities. You can find the closest one to you here. There are six city maintained outdoor skating rinks in Calgary but the favourite for many generations is the lagoon at Bowness Park at 8900 48th Ave. N.W. The park is open 5 am to 11 pm daily and the skate sop is open on weekends from 10 am to 8 pm. While you are there, skate massive loops around the lagoon, then head under the bridge to skate the canal along the shore. If skating isn’t your idea of fun, try curing or how about “Crockincurl?” It’s a giant game of Crokinole using curling stones. Find other free rinks here.
Cross-country ski through the city or nearby
Cross country skiing with the family is a great way to spend the day. The equipment is inexpensive, there are no lift tickets and all that gear is easy to carry! Pack a lunch and head to Shaganappi Point Golf Course, Confederation Golf Course, Maple Ridge Golf Course or South Glenmore Park or Bowness Park. The trails are groomed either by volunteers or the city. A full listing including Canmore is here. Only 45 minutes west of Calgary, there are 66 kilometres of fabulous trails at Bragg Creek. You will love the combination of challenges there.
Take a hike
If strapping skis or skates on your feet scare you, don’t worry. Take a hike! When the skies are cloudless, it’s a perfect day to get outside and absorb some sun-sourced Vitamin D. Toss on the layers you think you need and a good pair of boots and head for the City of Calgary parks. SnowSeekers offers a great list of places to hike including our only provincial park within the city limits in the feature story here.
For more ideas about enjoying winter in Calgary and beyond, head on over to SnowSeekers for new ideas.
Photos by Amber McLinden.