A report from Destination Canada notes that the country is on track to catch up to popular tourist destinations like New Zealand and Germany, but most travelers still avoid the winter season with the belief that it’s far too cold, despite the country’s any fantastic ski resorts like Whistler, which hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics. But there’s a lot more to do during this season than ski or board the powdery slopes, in fact, it brings the opportunity to experience many breathtaking sights that you can only find here in the Great White North.
This year do something different and plan to check out some of these places to visit in Canada this winter.
1. The Winter Festival of Lights at Niagara Falls, Ontario
Yes, Niagara Falls can also be visited on the U.S. side, but you won’t find the Winter Festival of Lights there, it’s in Canada. One of the longest-running festivals in the world, it takes place from early November through the end of January: November 3, 2018 to January 31, 2019 this coming season. This is when the spectacular falls freeze, creating the impression that the cascades have stopped mid-flow for a dazzling spectacle. During the festival, the entire city of Niagara and the falls are lit up in the colors of the rainbow. You’ll also be able to check out multiple light displays, including three-dimensional wildlife and over 50 trees wrapped in holiday sparkle, and enjoy events like fireworks, concerts, laser light shows and more.
2. Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains via Gondola, Whistler, British Columbia
Whistler may be one of Canada’s most popular destinations for skiing and border, but it’s also home to the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola which links Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. As you ride the glass-bottomed gondola, which towers a mile over Fitzsimmons Creek, you’ll take in 360-degree views of the village, lakes, glaciers, forests and mountain peaks, all beautifully covered with a blanket of snow. You can even dine on the “rooftop of the world” while taking in views of the slopes and the soaring, jagged peaks.
3. The Ice Hotel and the Quebec City Carnival, Montreal
The Ice Hotel, officially known as Hotel de Glace, is one of North America’s few ice hotels – a palace-like property made entirely from ice, and a must-experience for any travel bucket list. The beds have a solid ice base, though a mattress, cozy blankets and arctic sleeping bags keep guests warm in the frigid temperatures – some rooms include fireplaces as well. You’ll be dazzled by this work of art, made all of ice and snow, while enjoying one of the most unique hotel experiences imaginable. While you’re here you can go dog sledding, ice skating and attend the Quebec City Carnival, the largest of its kind in the world, featuring night parades, carriage rides through the winter wonderland, ice sculptures and even a canoe race on the frozen St. Lawrence River.
4. Banff, Alberta, Canada
The Canadian Rockies are like entering a snow-covered fantasy land in the winter, with the area around Banff and Lake Louise truly coming alive during the season. The Winterstart Festival features ski races, a parade, theater and concerts, while the 125-year-old castle-like Fairmont Banff Springs is surrounded by stunning snow-capped mountains and offers a variety of activity like sleigh rides, dog sledding, gondola rides, canyon ice walks, ice skating and more.