Edmonton, Alberta’s capital, has certainly earned its reputation as festival city. The Silver Skate Festival is the city’s longest-running winter festival (29 years and counting) and an annual tradition not to be missed.
The Silver Skate Festival creates a magical winter wonderland in Hawrelak Park, which is found in Edmonton’s famous river valley. It’s a 10-day celebration that’ll introduce you to Dutch winter traditions – the festival name comes from the Dutch folk tale, after all – and winter activities to help you embrace what the season has to offer.
Certain events at Silver Skate change year to year, but ice skating is always a staple. Lace up your skates and hit the ice on Edmonton’s largest skating pond. It’s not uncommon to see figure skaters showing off their best moves, friendly games of hockey or broomball – a Canadian-made game – curling and even speed-skating races throughout the festival.
Off the ice, there’s a winter playground to explore. The Heritage Village offers a glimpse into Canada’s traditional and pioneer history – and it’s where you can cook up some bannock, a traditional type of bread, over an open fire. Or, try winter pastimes like snowshoeing and fat biking.
The festivities don’t stop when the sun goes down. Quite the opposite, in fact. You may have seen the famous ice castle on Instagram, but this is your chance to experience it in real life. While you’re there, take a stroll down the Folk Trail, see the fire sculptures (they’re as cool as they sound) or watch some live music. The nighttime programming at Silver Skate also changes things up a little each year, so check the schedule before heading out.
Word to the wise: dress warmly! Edmonton winters can be chilly, so layers will help you make the most out of your visit to the festival.