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The 10 Best Winter Festivals in Canada

The fun doesn’t stop when it gets cold outside! Discover the best winter festivals in Canada happening this winter and feel like a true Canadian!

Winter festivals in Canada are a great reason to get outside! Winter can be a magical time of year, even for those who aren’t fans of the cold weather. Wherever you are staying in Canada there are great winter festivals you should check out – they might even help keep you warm!

Best Winter Festivals in Canada:

  • Winterlude, Ottawa (February 1-18, 2019)
  • Fête des Neiges, Montreal (Weekends from January 19 – February 10, 2019)
  • Rossland Winter Carnival, Rossland B.C. (January 24-27, 2019)
  • Jasper in January, Jasper (Weekends from January 10-27, 2019)
  • Ice Magic Festival, Lake Louise (January 16-27, 2019)
  • Montréal en Lumière, Montreal (February 21 to March 3, 2019)
  • World Ski & Snowboard Festival, Whistler (April 10-14, 2019)
  • Aurora Winter Festival, Toronto and Vancouver (November 29/23 – December 30, 2018)
  • Toronto Christmas Market, Toronto (November 15 – December 23, 2018)
  • WinterFest, Canada’s Wonderland (Starting November 2019) 
Winter mountain trail covered in snow, surrounded by snowy trees. Best Winter Festivals in Canada / Skyscanner Canada
Best Winter Festivals in Canada | Skyscanner Canada

Winterlude, Ottawa

Winterlude is arguably the largest winter festival in Canada since it has the world’s largest ice rink in the Rideau canal, so expect plenty of winter fun from February 1-18, 2019. 

The kickoff party in Ottawa features ice sculptures, live music, and an outdoor dance party. One unique event you won’t want to miss is the Ice Dragon Boat Festival where dragon boats race down the frozen canal. If you’re coming with children, the Snowflake Kingdom features slides, a zip line, digital art, and much more.

Need a place to stay? The Westin Ottawa has the perfect location since it’s located on the Rideau Canal and is within walking distance of Parliament Hill and the ByWard Market. Rooms are spacious and come with heavenly beds and a variety of amenities. If you’re bringing your furry friends with you, a dog bed and dog bowls are available upon request.

Fête des Neiges, Montreal

Montreal has some of the best winter festivals in Canada and Fête des Neiges is one of the most popular. The festival takes place over four weekends and encourages families to enjoy the outdoors.

Events include dog sledding, snow tubing, skating and ice carving, while food trucks serve up some warm winter comfort foods. This is a great family festival as its main purpose is to celebrate winter! This French winter festival takes place on weekends from January 19 to February 10, 2019, at Parc Jean-Drapeau.   

Rossland Winter Carnival

The Rossland Winter Carnival is an authentic experience that dates back to 1898 – making it Canada’s oldest winter carnival.

During this weekend festival, the entire city of Rossland, B.C. comes out to enjoy fire spinners, a parade, an ice palace, and live music. There is even a bobsled race that goes right down the middle of town!

This winter festival runs from January 24-27, 2019. It is quite small compared to the rest of the winter festivals in Canada that made our list, but that’s part of what makes it so unique. Locals are happy to share this festival with visitors, especially the Fireman’s Pancake breakfast on Saturday, which is a good way to get to know people who call Rossland home.

Jasper in January

Over three weekends in January from January 10-27, 2019, Jasper in January is the place to be in Alberta. Events change yearly, but you can expect some favourite winter activities including ice climbing, canyon ice walks, sleigh rides, and of course live music, good drinks, and great eats.

There is a bit of a competitive edge when it comes to this Canadian winter festival as participants can choose to race in a cross-country, downhill slalom, or endurance Fat Bike race. The kick-off party happens January 11th!

Ice Magic Festival, Lake Louise

Just down the road from the Jasper in January festival is the Ice Magic Festival in Lake Louise from January 16-27, 2019. Every year, artists from around the world come to Lake Louise and create some stunning sculptures in an ice carving competition. This is a world-class ice carving event! 

While you’re at this winter festival, you will also be able to experience everything the area has to offer! If you are looking for something already planned, then the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise has a Winter Mountain Adventure Program where a guide will take you hiking, snowshoeing, or skiing while giving you a history lesson of the area. Come for the winter festival and stay for all the activities!

Montréal en Lumière

Montréal en Lumière is a multi-part festival, with different aspects for everyone in the family to enjoy from February 21 to March 3, 2019. There are free outdoor activities near Quartier des Spectacles like the interactive display “Illuminart,” and several outdoor shows showcasing Montreal’s French culture. There are also activities like the Ferris wheel, zip lining, and many food kiosks. 

The second part of the Montréal en Lumière festival is the food! There are culinary activities, workshops, conferences, and set menus across many of Montreal’s exquisite restaurants. It is the perfect opportunity to eat your way around the best restaurants in Montreal, as these restaurants serve special set menus for this winter food festival.

Nuit Blanche coincides with the festival so for one night you can enjoy art exhibitions and cultural activities at over 150 sites across the city, most of them for free. 

World Ski & Snowboard Festival, Whistler

The World Ski & Snowboard Festival in Whistler takes place in April, but it still counts as one of the top winter festivals in Canada due to the winter nature of the sports. It is actually North America’s largest festival of snow sports, music, arts and “mountain culture.” It runs from April 10-14, 2019. 

As the name of this winter festival implies, the focus is on skiing and snowboarding so expect to see some of the top competitors from around the world arriving for the event.

Even if you’re not into skiing and snowboarding, this festival prides itself on its “Après Ski” with a big music festival component, late-night parties and several cultural events like art, words, film and photography. 

Aurora Winter Festival, Toronto and Vancouver

Visit Santa’s workshop or go skating on the frozen lake at the Aurora Winter Festival from November 29th to December 30th, 2018 in Toronto and November 23rd to December 30th in Vancouver. 

There is a Disco Den, Luminous Gardens, a Whimsical Forest and an Arctic Retreat all complete with magical characters you can engage with in real life or on the festival’s app (which has a Mystical Worlds Quest). 

There are also tube rides, a Ferris wheel and live entertainment that help make this winter festival great for families! Enjoy an escape into this magical hidden village. 

Toronto Christmas Market

It’s not technically a winter festival, but the Toronto Christmas Market is a great way to start the holidays. Taking place in Toronto’s Distillery District, the Christmas Market has grown every year since its debut. As you can imagine, there are plenty of Christmas lights, Santa’s House, a marketplace, and a giant Christmas tree.

Since this is the Distillery District, there will be a beer garden setup where a variety of beers, Christmas cocktails, and mulled wine will be served. Note that the Toronto Christmas Market ends on December 23rd and sees huge crowds so come on a weekday if you can.

WinterFest, Canada’s Wonderland

Opening Next Year: Canada’s Wonderland Winter Festival

If you’re already planning ahead for next year, you’ll want to mark this winter festival on your calendar! Canada’s Wonderland is opening up a new immersive holiday experience starting November 2019. 

They are turning the amusement park into WinterFest, where the park will completely transform for the occasion. There will be a nightly lighting ceremony, ice-skating, live entertainment, family activities, and all-out themed areas. 

Canada’s Wonderland will be turning into a total winter wonderland next year! 

Who says winter needs to be boring? With this many winter festivals in Canada, there are plenty of activities to help keep you warm!

Making your way to a Canadian festival by plane or car? Check out Skyscanner for the best deals to make your visit even more enjoyable!