With the Canadian Farmers’ Almanac predicting a “wetter-than-normal” winter for southern and central British Columbia, those of us dreaming of a white Christmas may need to get a little imaginative with our holiday plans this year. Luckily, however, our country offers some of the world’s most inspiring winter travel destinations – where treetops not only glisten, you’ll half expect jolly old St. Nick himself to greet you at the door.
Hôtel de Glace
With room temperatures averaging between -3°C and -5°C (27°F and 23°F), you may not want to book your entire winter vacation in Québec City’s Hôtel de Glace, but it is definitely one of Canada’s most notable winter attractions.
Boasting 36 rooms and theme suites, an ice bar, an ice cafe and a Nordic area complete with a hot tub and sauna under the stars, the architecturally stunning ice hotel is made of approximately 500 tons of ice and 15,000 tons of snow.
While the “premium deluxe” suite includes a cozy fireplace and private spa, don’t forget the essentials: a hat covering your ears, a scarf, gloves or mittens and boots big enough for extra thick socks. Open from January 6 to March 25, 2012. Visit website for latest package deals or call 1-877-505-0423.
Christmas Package, The Fairmont Banff Springs
Decorated like a page from a holiday storybook, few hotels in the world can rival the Christmas vacation experience of The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. Nestled in the heart of “the land of a million Christmas trees,” this magical castle in the Canadian Rockies offers a unique blend of opulence and seclusion, yet is just minutes from the charming town of Banff and three world-class ski mountains.
From winter wilderness walks to glacier tours, cookie decorating, gingerbread house making, tobogganing, skating, curling, snowshoeing, sumptuous “brunching” to dinner and dancing, this holiday getaway guarantees visions of sugar plums dancing in everyone’s heads. “Christmas at the Castle” begins December 19, 2011 and continues until January 2, 2012. Call 1-866-540-4406 for more information.
Kicking Horse Mountain
Aptly named “the champagne capital of Canada,” Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in Golden, B.C. boasts the second-highest vertical drop in Canada. Situated next to the Rockies in the Dogtooth range of the Purcell Mountains, the resort features 85 inbound chutes, heli-skiing and snowmobiling adventures, ice skating, tubing, gondola sightseeing, eight distinct dining establishments and even a mid-mountain Yurt. If you start feeling chilled, spend an afternoon at world-renowned Radium Hot Springs, just an hour south of Golden on Highway 95. On-mountain accommodation includes your choice of condominiums, boutique lodges, town homes, resort homes or the well-known Eagle’s Eye Suites, complete with 24-hour butler service! Begin planning your adventure today by calling 1-866-SKI-KICK (754-5425).
Held Feb. 3-20, 2012, this family-friendly festival transforms Canada’s capital region into the ideal destination to celebrate Canadian wintertime traditions.
Taking place on the Rideau Canal Skateway at Snowflake Kingdom in Jacques-Cartier Park, this year’s festival will feature the world’s largest skating rink, larger-than-life snow slides and a variety of exciting events, including the Winterlude Triathlon, the Bedzz Annual Bed Race, the 25th International Ice-Carving Competition, fireworks, skating demonstrations and more.
While you’re there, discover the many flavours of the region during Taste of Winterlude 2012. Featuring the area’s best chefs, sommeliers and winemakers, this multi-course dining event is the perfect way to savour a long winter’s night.
There are many accommodation choices but none more beautiful than the historic Fairmont Chateau Laurier, which will be celebrating its 100th anniversary during the festival.
For reservations, call 1-866-540-4410.
Brewster Aurora Borealis Tour from Yellowknife
With its swirling lights of green, white, blue, purple, pink or red, the aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights, may be one of the earth’s most dazzling natural phenomenons. Experience the energy and awe of this spectacular display with Brewster Vacations Canada in Yellowknife, the capital and largest city of the Northwest Territories. Voted the #1 place in the world to view the aurora, Yellowknife is located on the northern shores of beautiful Great Slave Lake, only 512 kilometres south of the Arctic Circle. Brewster’s four-day package includes three nights hotel accommodation, guided aurora borealis viewing, a three-hour sightseeing tour of the local attractions and round-trip transfers between Yellowknife Airport and Yellowknife Hotel. To book, call 1-877-791-5500.
Tyax Wilderness Resort & Spa and TLH Heliskiing
Offering an unforgettable classic Canadian winter experience, this newly-renovated world-class boutique resort is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts seeking the backcountry adventure of a lifetime. Overlooking Tyaughton Lake in the South Chilcotin Mountains (approximately 250 kilometres north of Vancouver), Tyax Wilderness Resort & Spa is home to 830,000 acres of snow-covered alpine wilderness, including some of the most exciting heli-skiing/boarding terrain in the world.
In addition to single group, unlimited vertical heli adventures from TLH Heliskiing, Tyax features snowshoeing, cross country skiing and ice skating, as well as luxury accommodation, first-class cuisine and relaxing spa services.
Book now to reserve a spot for Tyax’s New Year’s dinner and dance special. 1-877-918-TYAX (8929).