The Best Outdoor Skating Rink in Every Province
Ice skating is one of most invigorating ways to embrace Canada's frosty winter landscape. Lace up your skates to glide, loop and twirl at these atmospheric skating spots across the country.
Photo: Destination BC/Zoya Lynch
Lake Windermere Whiteway
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 the B.C. interior about a three-hour drive from Calgary, the Whiteway is bordered by 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 perfect for families, strollers and sleds.
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 the 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 builds an ice castle right on the lake for folks to skate or walk through. 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
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.
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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 in some years, the Red River has been included, too. Though the trail’s length varies each winter depending on weather 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
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 evenings, 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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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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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 a magical option. Afterwards, reward yourself with a spa treatment or bite to eat inside Lily Lake Pavilion, nearby the skating zone.
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Built for skating and speed skating competitions during the 2011 Canada Games, Halifax’s Emera Oval was intended to be removed after the games. Due to its popularity, however, it’s now a permanent fixture at 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
Slicing across the rink at Charlottetown’s Founders Hall isn’t just a revitalizing activity, it’s one that’s steeped in history. Situated in the heart of downtown where the Fathers 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 (yes, you read that correctly) and warm beverages. Fortunately the abundance of fire pits keeps any chilly ocean breezes at bay.
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You know your rink is in demand when it has its own dedicated phone line for folks to get the scoop on skating conditions. Beloved by seniors and families, The Loop breathes life into St. John’s Bannerman Park during the chilly winter months. The ice track is lined with lanterns and takes skaters past the the historic neoclassical Colonial Building, handsome Victorian-era homes and a gazebo. The best part? Both entry and nearby parking is absolutely free.
Now that you know the best outdoor rink in every province, check out Canada’s most magical winter resorts.