Get out into the Great White North and glide on some of the best skating rinks in the world! Here are some of Canada’s best outdoor skating rinks, from coast to coast.
The great Canadian winter isn’t just about shovelling snow and scraping ice. In fact, the winter weather can bring with it some of Canada’s favourite activities. One of the greatest joys in winter is gliding along some smooth, flat ice. Whether you are a seasoned pro or have never worn skates in your life, you will have a great time on these beautiful outdoor skating rinks in Canada.
Insider tip: Be sure to wear a scarf, mittens, and don’t forget your toque (for all you outsiders here, a toque is Canadian for a warm hat). If you’re new to skating, wear some layers and long johns to keep your derrière warm no matter how many times you land on it!
Canada’s Best Outdoor Rinks
1. The Rideau Canal in Ottawa
In Ottawa, Ontario, the Rideau Canal is Canada’s most popular skating rink. The country’s capital boasts the largest naturally frozen outdoor skating rink in the world. It even made the Guinness book of world records! A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ottawa’s Rideau Canal allows you to skate continuously for nearly eight kilometres. Open and accessible 7 days a week, 24 hours a day from around January to March. Bring your own skates (or sleigh for those little ones!) or you can rent them at various locations by the Canal. If you get hungry along the skateway, you can grab some signature Canadian delights like poutine and beavertails (don’t worry it’s just fried dough – no beaver meat!).
Cost: Access to the Canal is free of charge. There are four locations with skate rentals along the Canal: Rideau Street, Fifth Avenue (Nokia), Bronson Avenue, Dows Lake. Check the Capital’s skate rental page for the list of prices and rental times.
Hours: For the latest updates on the Rideau Canal skate times and closed routes due to weather conditions, including maps of skate routes along the Canal, check the National Capital Commission’s website.
2. Lake Louise in Banff
Another Canadian rink that made CNN’s “Most Beautiful” list is Lake Louise in Banff, Alberta. Framed by the Rocky Mountains, the famous turquoise lake transforms into a magical winter playground around early December. There is no charge to use the rink and you can skate until midnight. An enchanted ice castle is built every year in time for the holidays and it remains for as long as the temperatures allow. There is even a designated rink for hockey next to the skating area. You can rent skates, sticks and pucks from the nearby Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
Cost: Access to the rink is free of charge. 2-hour skate rental: Adult $13.00 Children $8.00. Full Day Skate Rental: Adult $16.00 Child $12.00.
Hockey stick rental: $5.00.
Hours: Go anytime if you have your own skates, but if you need equipment, then rental hours are from 8 a.m. to noon and again from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
3. The Forks in Winnipeg (the world’s longest outdoor rink!)
The Forks in Winnipeg, Manitoba, is the world’s longest outdoor skating rink. Nearly 9km long, it stretches between two rivers: the Red River and the Assiniboine. It has a fascinating history that dates back 6000 years to the indigenous populations who lived there. Winnipeg is famously cold, so be sure to bundle up. If you get too chilly you can head over to the warming huts. Artists and architects from around the world conceptualize the collection of warming huts for a yearly competition.
Cost: Access to the rink is free of charge. Cost for skate rentals is $6 for adults and $4 for children and seniors.
Hours: The Red River Mutual Skating Trail is open from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. to Fridays and Saturdays, and til 8 p.m. on Sundays. You can rent skates from Iceland Skate Rentals in the Forks Market from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Hours might differ for holidays and weather, so check the Forks website for updates on weather and park conditions.
4. The Bonsecours Basin in Montreal
Located in Montreal’s picturesque Old Port, the Bonsecours Basin brings in skaters of all ages and experience levels. You can skate the day away while enjoying a view of Old Montreal and the St. Lawrence River. In true Montreal style, they make a party out of it every night with lights and music. Local DJs spin new music for you every Thursday and Fridays feature retro music. There are always new events and activities going on. Some of the highlights include karaoke, singles mingles, and salsa nights – all on ice!
Cost: Adults, seniors and teens : $6,95. Kids (6 to 12): $4,60. Kids (under 6): free Families*: $18 * 2 adults + 2 children/teen OR 1 adult + 3 children/teen. Skate rentals: $10.45
Hours: Monday to Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
5. The Arrowhead Trail in Muskoka
Looking for outdoor rinks outside of Toronto to take the family for a winter weekend trip? This 1.3 km trail allows you to wind along the trees of the Muskoka forest. In the daytime, you will enjoy the snow-covered evergreens and by night your path is lit by torches. Muskoka is in Huntsville, a 2-hour drive from Toronto. It might be a little out of the way but how many chances will you get to skate in a forest? The Arrowhead Trail is open from late December or early January until early March. The trail is weather-dependent so check their website for status updates.
Cost: Skating is free of charge. There is a charge of $17 per car for admission to the park and $10 for skate rentals.
Hours: All week, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (January); 5:30 p.m. (February); 6 p.m. (March).
6. The Emera Oval in Halifax
The Emera Oval in Halifax, Nova Scotia, is the go-to skating spot for Haligonians (that’s the term for people who live in Halifax!). The artificially frozen surface is the size of three NHL skating rinks and attracts everyone from speed-skaters to newbies. You can even get skating lessons from pro-skaters here! Great news if you’ve never been on ice before. Here’s the best part: it’s free to skate and you can even rent skates and helmets in all sizes for free. Open from December to March.
Cost: Free of charge for skating and skate rentals.
Hours: Hours for the Emera Oval vary, so if you’re planning a visit, check out the full schedule of their website.
7. The Cameco-Meewasin Rink in Saskatoon
In Saskatchewan’s capital, you will find the Cameco-Meewasin Skating Rink, which is perhaps the finest outdoor skating rink in Saskatchewan. It sits right on the edge of the South Saskatchewan River in Kiwanis Park. Situated right in the heart of the Canadian Prairies, you will get a fabulous view of the nearby historic Delta Bessborough Hotel. You can warm yourself at the fire pits or in the warming centres after your skate. It’s always free and limited skate rentals are available by donation. Open from mid-December to mid-March.
Cost: Free of charge. Limited skate rental are available by donation.
Hours: Note that if the temperature falls below -31°C the rink will close.
Otherwise, you can expect it to be open Monday to Saturday from 12 p.m. until 9 p.m. and on Sundays from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m.