The Best Outdoor Skating Rink in Every Province
Ice skating is one of most invigorating ways to embrace Canada's snow-clad winter landscape. Strap on your skates to glide, loop and twirl at these atmospheric skating spots across the country.
Photo: Destination BC/Zoya Lynch
Lake Windermere Whiteway, British Columbia
Not only is Lake Windermere Whiteway the longest ice skating trail in the world, according to Guinness World Records, it’s also one of the most dazzling. Nestled in interior BC—about a three-hour drive from Calgary, the Whiteway is swaddled between the Purcell mountain range to the west and the Rockies to the east. The 34-kilometre groomed track runs the entire way around Lake Windermere and connects the mountain resort towns of Invermere and Windermere. Because this epic skating trail is so well maintained, it’s near perfect for families, strollers and sleds.
Note: Before visiting any skating rink, always check their website in advance to follow COVID-19 pandemic protocols.
Lake Louise, Alberta
Anyone who’s ever wondered what it might feel like inside a snow globe ought to take this as their cue to visit Lake Louise in winter. With glinting Victoria Glacier as a stunning backdrop, this ice skating surface brings every child’s Frozen fantasies to life. If the massive expanse of smooth ice (and separate rink for shinny) wasn’t enough, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise also constructs an ice castle right on the lake for folks to skate or walk through, and of course, take pictures of. Need a shot of liquid courage? Anchoring Lake Louise is an ice bar, catering to all ages.
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Cameco Meewasin Skating Rink @Nutrien Plaza, Saskatchewan
This central Saskatoon skating rink scores an A+ for atmosphere. Set upon the banks of the Meewasin valley, with the Châteauesque-styled Delta Bessborough, one of Canada’s grand railway hotels in the background, the rink is oh-so pretty after a fluffy snowfall. Truth be told, it’s worth lacing up anytime between mid-December and mid-March. There are washrooms on-site, making it a convenient spot for families, and because it’s so popular, you’ll have to expect a few crowds on weekends. No hockey is allowed, but when it’s all lit up at night with music playing on outdoor speakers, simply carving your way along the ice should keep you in good spirits.
Before lacing up your skates, check the winter forecast across Canada.
The Forks, Manitoba
Situated in central Winnipeg, The Forks has been a gathering spot for centuries, and winter is no exception. The winding Centennial River Trail guides skaters along the Assiniboine River and some lucky years, the Red River is included, too. Though the trail’s length varies each year depending upon conditions, one thing’s for certain—there will be plenty of opportunities to warm up in style. That’s because each year, architects from around the world compete to design the most innovative warming hut. The best of these practical works of art are placed upon the River Trail for everyone to enjoy.
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Arrowhead Provincial Park, Ontario
Arrowhead Provincial Park is quite special anytime of year, but come winter, this 1.3-kilometre ice trail in the heart of Muskoka, takes on fairytale proportions. If gliding through the snow-quilted evergreens flanking the trail doesn’t make your heart go pitter patter, Fire + Ice nights surely will. On these magical nights, the winding trail is illuminated with hundreds of tiki torches, casting a golden glow upon the frosted trail, which welcomes skaters from early January until mid-March.
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Old Port, Quebec
Montreal’s Old Port is quite possibly the most romantic spot in the city—especially after dark. A whirl around its outdoor rink, attempting to skate to the beat of live DJs, is a guaranteed date night winner, but families are welcome here, too. There’s a village set up right in front of the ice for all your hot chocolate needs, plus the La Grande Roue de Montréal, a state-of-the-art observation wheel, is but steps away.
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Lily Lake, New Brunswick
Nothing beats wild ice skating, especially if you’re taking a twirl on Lily Lake. Nestled within Saint John’s 2,200-acre Rockwood Park, it’s easy feel at one with nature when you’re surrounded by forest. What’s great about this skating spot (where Saint John native Charles Gorman won the World Speed Skating Championship in 1926), is that it’s so large it can accommodate hockey games and families with small children learning how to skate. The two-kilometre walking trail encircling the lake is lit up at night, making evening skating possible. Afterwards, reward yourself with a spa treatment or bite to eat inside Lily Lake Pavilion, nearby the skating zone.
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Emera Oval, Nova Scotia
Constructed for skating and speed skating races during the 2011 Canada Games, Halifax’s Emera Oval was supposed to be removed after the games. Due to its popularity, it’s now a permanent site set upon Halifax Commons, Canada’s oldest urban park. The size of four football fields, the Oval is an ideal spot for beginners to learn how to skate or speed skate with complimentary helmets and skates available. Rosy cheeked skaters can take a rest and warm up inside the Pavilion building and watch the action from floor to ceiling windows.
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Founders’ Hall Skating Rink, Prince Edward Island
Sliding your way across the rink at Charlottetown’s Founders Hall isn’t just a revitalizing activity, it’s one that’s steeped in history. Skaters can follow in the footsteps of the Father’s of Confederation when lacing up at this outdoor, public rink on lower Prince Street. Situated in the heart of downtown, where the Father’s of Confederation landed (after being escorted into the city by an oyster dory), you’re within easy reach of the Food Hall with its potato fudge (for real) and warm beverages. Fortunately the abundance of fire pits keeps any chilly ocean breezes at bay.
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The Loop, Newfoundland
You know your rink is in demand when it has its own dedicated phone line for folks to call and get the scoop on skating conditions. Beloved by seniors and families, The Loop breathes life in St. John’s Bannerman Park during the winter months. It’s free to whip around the track, as is the nearby parking. The Loop is lined with lanterns and takes skaters past the the historic neoclassical Colonial Building, handsome Victorian-era homes and a gazebo. While hockey sticks aren’t allowed, skating aids are.
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