How to Enjoy Long Winters

Some days, spending time outdoors during winter can feel more like a challenge than an enjoyment. As the temperatures drop, it can be easy to huddle indoors, wrapped in the warmth of blankets and the glow of electronic screens. 

However, spending time outdoors in the sunlight is important for physical and mental health. There are many activities that can be done outdoors to mitigate the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder, known as "SAD" or the winter blues, which is when we start feeling low due to the absence of sunlight during the short daylight hours.

The great news is that Alberta is one of Canada's sunniest provinces, and there are many low-cost or free activities to do so that you can still enjoy the outdoors during sunlight hours. 

When all bundled up, our winter city can be very enjoyable! We encourage you to try at least one of these activities this winter.


12 Outdoor Activities and Events to Help Boost Your Mood

1. Forest Bathing:

This is the process of being in nature and consciously absorbing the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of the place you are at. It can be as simple as stepping out of your home for a minute and listening to the air. 

2. Walk in the River Valley:

Edmonton’s River Valley is a great place to go for a winter hike. You’ll feel like you’re out of the city and get to enjoy the beautiful, white scenery while soaking up Vitamin D.

3. Cross-Country Skiing:

Do you feel like doing something other than walking? The City of Edmonton has accessible cross-country ski trails that are open and free for everyone.

4. Skating:

When you don’t feel like walking, there are many spots in the River Valley to skate for free with low-fee skate rentals if needed. 

5. Tobogganing:

Sliding down a hill can make you feel like a child again. There are many free toboggan hills in Edmonton that you can try out with friends and family.

6. Winter Family Photoshoot:

The River Valley is also a great place to have your own family winter photoshoot. Make use of the natural light and capture silly photos with the loved ones in your immediate bubble.

7. Deep Freeze Festival:

You can enjoy musical performances, short films, and ice sculptures. The festival is free!

8. Snow Contests:

With an abundance of snow, you can have contests to see who can make the best snowman, or whose snow angel looks the most angelic.

9. Flying Canoe Volant:

Festival go-ers will be wandering around Indigenous tipis, admiring Indigenous arts, and enjoying dance performances. This outdoor festival is a must-do if you appreciate local Canadian folklore and great story-telling. 

10. Snowball Fight:

One of the best ways to feel better is through movement. Get running around and have a friendly snowball fight. The best part? Your ammo is free and refillable!

11. Volunteer Work or Acts of Kindness:

Lift your spirits by helping someone in need. You can remain physically distanced while shoveling snow for someone who is unable to do it themselves.

12. Silver Skate Festival:

The Silver Skate Festival is a free 10-day event. You can have a look at impressive snow sculptures, skate on a pond, visit the Indigenous pavilion, and more.


The key to fully enjoying the winter is walking out your front door!


You may also be interested in these blog posts:

Mental health therapists are available if you would like to talk about seasonal affective disorder or other concerns. Counselling sessions are available virtually, over the phone, or in-person.