By Kristy Koehler, December 19 2018 —
Nothing says winter in Canada like a trip to an outdoor skating rink. Calgary, a lively winter sports destination, is home to some of the best outdoor rinks in the country. There are rinks in virtually every neighbourhood and quadrant of the city, so no matter where you live, there’s a place to lace up and hit the ice.
Many of the rinks listed below are maintained by the City of Calgary. As they are all outdoors, they are weather-dependent. Bear in mind that conditions can change rapidly in Calgary and rinks’ conditions can deteriorate, so it’s always a good idea to check online before you head out for a skate. Generally speaking, Calgary’s outdoor rinks are open from mid-December through February. The City of Calgary keeps up-to-date information on the rinks they maintain at calgary.ca/parks.
Calgary is also home to the Adopt-a-Rink volunteer program, through which a network of more than 150 volunteers help maintain more than 45 community skating rinks around the city.
No matter which rink you choose, be mindful that helmets are recommended for all skaters. Most rinks are for pleasure-skating only and don’t allow sticks or pucks on the ice, but a select few offer times for shinny.
228 8 Ave. S.E.
Built for the 1988 Olympic Winter Games, Olympic Plaza was the site of the medal ceremonies. It boasts the only refrigerated outdoor ice surface in the city of Calgary and the park-like setting is truly beautiful. Situated in the heart of downtown, there’s nothing better than looking up at the glimmering shine of the lights from the stunning Calgary skyline while you glide across the ice. Olympic Plaza is well-lit and it has a seating area and washrooms. Best of all, the skating is free. Open from 10 a.m – 9 p.m. daily, the location also features a skate rental hut on certain days in case you don’t have gear of your own. Their website, calgaryskaterentals.com lists up-to-date hours and prices.
Prairie Winds Park:
223 Castleridge Blvd. N.E.
This 16-hectare park in one of Calgary’s northeast communities features public art, picnic facilities and a toboggan hill, in addition to its two outdoor skating rinks. Generally, one is designated for pleasure skating only, while the second rink is sometimes offered for shinny hockey games.
67 Riverview Dr. S.E.
Deep in Calgary’s southeast, Carburn Park is located on the east shore of the Bow River. This skating rink is one of the most relaxing Calgary has to offer, owing to its distance from the hustle and bustle of the city. While there are no skate rentals, public washrooms are available.
8900 48 Ave. N.W.
The University of Calgary Outdoor Centre operates the skate shop at Bowness Park. They offer a cold-weather discount so if you’re brave enough to strap on skates when the temperature hits -25 C or below, you’ll save 50 per cent on your rentals. There’s also a discount for those who arrive before noon on the weekends. If you have your own gear, it’s free to hit the ice.
111 Lake Louise Dr.
While not in Calgary — and definitely not maintained by the City of Calgary — it would be remiss to discuss outdoor skating anywhere in Alberta without mentioning this magical destination. Roughly a two-hour drive from Calgary, you would have a hard time finding a more picturesque location for outdoor skating.
Complete with an ice castle and a stunning mountain backdrop, a day trip to Lake Louise for a skate can fill your Instagram feed for a month. Flood lights are lit until 11 p.m. and provide just enough light to see where you’re going yet maintain a ‘skating under the stars’ vibe.