As the temperature dips and the frost begins to accumulate on the ground, there’s one thing likely to be on your mind: how far away is Christmas? That magical season will soon to be upon us and it pays off to be prepared – else you’ll miss out on a season’s worth of excitement in Central Alberta. Winter comes alive in Central Alberta and below we outline a few examples of how you can experience it.

Olds

Some people wait with bated breath for the day they can start playing Christmas music and hang up all of their ornaments, even if that day happens to be in fall. Fortunately for the residents of Olds, that day is sometime in mid-November when the Olds Fashioned Christmas comes to town. It’s an assortment of winter events that runs until the first of January: it’s a spirit that takes over the entire town with its cheer and optimism as businesses, churches and community centres get into the spirit of the season.

It appropriately begins with Midnight Madness, a crash course in all things retail as merchants and businesses stay open late and offer deals galore. It’s the tradition that encourages residents and visitors to shop as much as they can; why not start and finish your Christmas shopping in one night? Meanwhile, you can gorge on free hot dogs, hot chocolate and cider as you go. Then there’s the Light-Up Festival leading directly into the Santa Claus Parade of Lights, the day-long event that takes over Centennial Park and the nearby Cow Palace. We’re talking outdoor fun to the max; straw bale maze, train rides, Christmas lights decked out all over Olds and the titular parade itself. 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of this event!

Meanwhile, Christmas markets multiply during the winter season in Olds, offering many an opportunity to tuck into some holiday cheer. We’re not kidding when we say that: last year saw dozens of marketplaces spring up. The Picket Fence Market specializes in one-of-a-kind items with plenty of Olds charm. The Christmas Madness Market – held in conjunction with Midnight Madness – kicks off the winter season with an inspiring selection for local and regional fans of vintage fare. There’s the epochal Christmas Farmers’ Market as well as the Country Wonderland Market, a glorified cornucopia of holiday baking, crafts and collectibles.

If none of these are able to do much to soothe your soul, you can always find solace in a frozen pond and a hockey puck in the winter months. Fortunately, there’s plenty of hockey action going down in Olds over the Christmas season. Between now and the end of the year, both the Pee Wee and the Olds Grizzlys Midget AA tournaments will be lighting up the Olds Sportsplex. The Olds Grizzlys, the Junior A team, will have a busy season with eleven home games between November and December at the Sportsplex. The Olds College women’s hockey team kicks things off in October and has games all the way into February – meaning there’s lots of chance to catch the Broncos in action. For non-hockey fans, we’ve got you covered – the Olds College Broncos have a busy collegiate sports schedule ahead of them, with both mens and womens’ league games to watch!

Mountain View County

Looking for more markets to window shop? The winter iteration of the Bergen Farmers’ Market takes place November 24 at the Bergen Community Hall. Expect plenty of vendors – local and regional – selling crafts, produce, and Christmas paraphernalia. The year round Mountain View Farmers’ Market showcases products from local businesses, artists and crafts makers, with the winter-related edition happening in Didsbury on December 15. Then there’s The Carstairs Farmers’ Christmas Market, running for two days December 7 and 8 and spanning over 50 vendors! Admission works by bringing a food bank donation and we know Santa will be on hand for photos. Then there’s the craft sales. November 16 and 17 is the Christmas Craft Fair, hosted at the Carstairs Community Hall and your number one place for all things jewelry, crafts, unique specialty items and other kooky items.

Meanwhile at PaSu Farm, you can expect their Victorian Christmas Dinner to make a comeback this December. This eight-course dinner embraces the English Victorian era to its fullest; we’re talking candles, crackers, plum pudding and your choice of either roast leg or prime rib. With reserved seating and a carol singalong to take place after dinner, this is the English dinner you’ve been dreaming of.

Camp Evergreen, the year-round camp with 480 acres of natural space, offers Winter Fest Family Camp during the Family Day long weekend. Billed as a way to escape the city, you’ll get to meet new families, play in the great outdoors and experience a wide variety of winter activities like wagon rides, snowshoeing, snow sculpture making, archery, and more. The camp is home to a pond that is great for ice skating but also hosts regular pond hockey tournaments, competitive fun intended to raise money for the camp’s operating budget.

 

Innisfail

In Innisfail, you can take a walk on the wild side to shake off the winter blues – a winter wolf walk in Discovery Wildlife Park! Long walks through the woods get more interesting with the help of the park’s two wolves, Nisa and Lupe. Besides getting up close and personal with wolves, you’ll learn more about their lives and get the chance to roam through the entire park.

You’ll get pictures taken and mailed out to you after your winter walk, enough to impress everyone in your circle. Move over, Kevin Costner!

Red Deer & Beyond

Adventure lovers and thrill seekers will find plenty to get lost in Red Deer and Red Deer County. Canyon Ski Resort will soon be opening up for the winter season. The ski resort boasts 70 acres of terrain to ski, with 22 runs and 6 lifts. Capable of transporting five thousand people per hour, there’s plenty of space for the family to stretch out and explore at Canyon Ski Resort. The resort also offers night skiing, allowing you to enjoy the twilight stars as you go on a thrilling ski run or two!

 

With the help of Pursuit Adventures, you can get bundled up and spend some quality time exploring the great outdoors of Red Deer Country, enjoying peace and quiet away from the city. How do you feel about ice bubbles? Two of the winter tours offered by Pursuit will have you searching for them in gorgeous sub-zero locales in David Thompson Country like the Cline River, Crescent Falls and Abraham Lake. Whether you’re hiking through Siffleur Falls or snowshoeing your way through Coral Creek Canyon, one thing’s for sure: you’ll be right in some of the most magical landscape in Alberta, discovering winter solstice in a whole new light!

We hope this gives you plenty of inspiration when it comes to exploring the gorgeous tundra that is Central Alberta in the wintertime!

Featured Image: Courtesy of Pursuit Adventures at Coral Creek Canyon

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