Story Starters: Spirit of Winter

Credit: Banff & Lake Louise Tourism

The holiday season can be hectic! Slow things down on a sleigh ride with Brewster Adventures at the foot of Victoria Glacier in Lake Louise. Or take a magical train ride to the North Pole upon the Polar Express at Aspen Crossing or with Alberta Prairie Railway Excursions, who also operate a Christmas Party Train featuring carolling, a hayride, turkey dinner and a dance. 
Step back to a simpler time at Fort Edmonton Park. During Christmas Reflections, guests celebrate winter the way pioneers did over a century ago by sampling baking from wood stoves and sharing stories around the bonfire. At Calgary’s Heritage Park, visitors can meet reindeer and experience a traditional Prairie Christmas during Once Upon a Christmas.

Could there be anything more romantic than skating against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains? Alberta is riddled with an abundance of natural ice-skating rinks. Peer through the clear ice to view suspended rocks (and perhaps fish swimming deep below) at Spray Lakes in Kananaskis CountryLake Mildred in Jasper National Park, plus Carrot Creek and Johnson Lake in Banff National Park. The Post Hotel and Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise also create exquisite outdoor environments with purpose-built ice surfaces.  
You don’t have to be a star athlete to enjoy the magic of ice skating in the cities. Edmonton’s Victoria Park hosts an outdoor speed-skating and pleasure-skating rink that comes alive in the evenings with twinkling lights. In Calgary, the inner-city lagoon at Prince’s Island Park fills with skaters of all ages and abilities, many of whom wind up tucking into nearby River Café for a cozy fireside meal.
Hot, boozy beverages served up in atmospheric settings make winter worth toasting. Sidle up to the ice bars at Lake Louise Ski Resort or Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, or catch the ice luge dispensing vodka at Jasper’s Old Fire Hall during Jasper in January
The gingerbread house creations whipped up in Alberta have to be seen to be believed. The Rimrock Resort Hotel offers a replica of the mountainside property, and Fairmont Hotel Macdonald 
bakers recreate their Chateau on the River. Over 35 kilograms (77 pounds) of rolled fondant go into the gingerbread homes crafted by Fairmont Palliser and Fairmont Banff Springs. Turn childhood fantasies into reality by stepping into the life-size gingerbread house at Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge.

Local vendors spread holiday cheer at Alberta’s charming Christmas markets. An inviting and cheery shopping experience is found at these locations:
Alberta’s skyline gets a whole lot brighter at this time of year. Prepare to be dazzled at these holiday light displays: