Five Ways to Bask in the Winter Sun

The best activities for banishing the wintertime blues in Calgary and Airdrie.

February may be the shortest month of the year, but for many of us, it feels like the longest — the days are still brief, the weather is still cold, and spring still seems like it’s a far way off. So, what can we do to avoid the wintertime blues? According to the experts, spending time in the sunshine can make a world of difference. And lucky for us, Calgary and Airdrie are among the sunniest cities in Canada — no matter the season.

Here, we present five sunny ways to get outside and lift your spirits in this final stretch of winter.

1. Take a walk

It’s hard to think of anything more invigorating than a brisk walk — especially when you’re strolling amid a snow-covered, sun-dappled winter wonderland. Both Airdrie and Calgary are home to a variety of parks and pathways that truly sparkle in the wintertime, and many of them are situated in — or very close to — Genesis Land communities. Among our favourite places for a winter stroll is Nose Hill Park in northwest Calgary.

Just 20 minutes from Sage Hill Crest and 30 minutes from Airdrie, Nose Hill is one of the largest municipal parks in North America, covering more than 11 square kilometres. Trails of varying lengths wind and weave through wooded areas and wide-open expanses, providing a spoil of choice for winter walks, whether you’re hankering for a long, solo hike or a family-friendly stroll. The best part? The views, of course. Perched high above the city, Nose Hill offers up panoramic views of downtown Calgary, the Rocky Mountains and the Bow River Valley, all set against impossibly blue winter skies.

2. Hit the rink

Lacing up your skates and gliding gracefully (or not so gracefully!) around an outdoor rink is a quintessentially Canadian way to spend a wintry afternoon. It also happens to be great exercise and a relatively inexpensive activity to enjoy with family and friends. And when it comes to skating options, people in Airdrie and Calgary are spoiled for choice.

The City of Calgary has seven public outdoor rinks, which are located in all four quadrants of the city and are free to use on a first come, first served basis. Airdrie, too, has a variety of cost-free skating areas, from boarded and snowbank rinks to natural ice surfaces. There’s even a rink right in Bayview Park read more about it here, as well as a number of charming, DIY shinny rinks dotting the frozen canals that run through the Bayview and Bayside communities.

3. Grab your sled

A beloved winter pastime for centuries, sledding is something that people of all ages and skill levels can enjoy. There’s just something incredibly satisfying about lugging your sled back up a hill after a thrilling ride down, then repeating the process over and over again until you’re completely spent.

Of course, it’s important to keep safety top of mind; we suggest donning a helmet, going down feet first and choosing a hill that’s free of obstacles. Chinook Winds Park, just minutes from the communities of Bayside and Bayview, is one of Airdrie’s three designated areas for sledding—and it’s a great choice for families because the hill is both expansive and treeless. In Calgary, there are 22 designated sledding areas to try, including Prairie Winds Park near Saddlestone, which features multi-sized, unobstructed hills for sledders of all comfort levels.

4. Indulge your inner photographer

Whether you’re a novice photographer, a seasoned pro, or you just want to get some sweet snaps for your Instagram feed, Calgary, Airdrie, and the nearby Rockies and foothills offer up ample opportunity for stunning outdoor pics. On sunny days, that bright blue winter sky, contrasted with the white of freshly fallen snow, make for beautiful photos that really pop.

If you don’t want to venture too far from home, Bowness and Bowmont parks in northwest Calgary are packed with tranquil scenes; think ice-kissed riverbanks, frosty trails and brightly coloured songbirds perched in glistening trees. Or, if you’re wanting to capture a stunning shot of a wintry waterfall flanked by dramatic ice crystals, Big Hill Springs Provincial Park (just a 25-minute drive from Airdrie) has just what you need.

5. Strap on some skis

Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t include downhill and cross-country skiing on this list. After all, Calgary and Airdrie are just an hour or two away from world-class ski resorts and groomed and ungroomed Nordic trails. On a bluebird day, you can soak up plenty of winter rays in the Rockies while zooming down the slopes or gliding along mountain trails — just be sure to wear plenty of sunscreen and good sunglasses or goggles, as the sun can really hurt your eyes when it reflects off the snow.

Among the favourite nearby ski destinations for Calgarians and Airdronians are Nakiska, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise for downhill lovers, and West Bragg Creek and the Canmore Nordic Centre for those who prefer cross-country. These places also have snowshoe trails on-site or close by, if skiing isn’t your thing. Of course, if the idea of hopping in the car to go for a cross-country ski or snowshoe doesn’t appeal, Genesis Land communities are all home to trails, parks and open spaces that are great options after a fresh snowfall.

Whatever outdoor activities you choose to enjoy in these last few weeks of winter, don’t forget to take a moment or two to really revel in the sunshine — it’s sure to bring a smile.