The insider’s guide to a family ski adventure in Canada

By Pippa Thompson

Make your family ski holiday one to remember in Canada

To put it simply, Canada is a spectacular winter playground.  Whether you’re seeking champagne powder snow, wide groomed runs, expert ski tuition, breath-taking scenery or a chance to toast marshmallows around a campfire – winter holidays in Canada have it all!

With excellent average snowfall all around the Canadian Rockies, western Canada offers a huge choice of options for families seeking a ski adventure to remember.  The days will fly by quickly on the slopes as you whizz over the varied terrain from perfectly groomed nursery slopes to challenging  black diamond trails, all easily accessible thanks to the often non-existent lift queues!  Beginner skiers and boarders will be as at home on the slopes as experts – everyone has to start somewhere, and there is no better place to learn than in one of Canada’s friendly ski schools.

All instructors are qualified with the Canadian Association of Snowboard Instructors, speak fluent English and make every lesson feel like an adventure as kids and adults gain confidence on the slopes.

After an exhilarating day on the piste, you’ll be spoilt for choice with the wide range of friendly dining outlets available.  Sip a hot chocolate or warm apple cider whilst admiring the views of the impressive mountain scenery beyond and marvel at the altitude you’ve scaled that day and vertical drops you’ve skied amidst tree-lined valleys. Of course, a winter holiday in Canada doesn’t have to centre around skiing as the resorts have so many exciting non-ski activities to choose from.


Horse drawn sleigh rideScreen Shot 2015-01-13 at 10.34.08

Being pulled through the snow on a horse drawn sleigh is a magical experience, so make sure you take a break from the slopes for this unforgettable adventure.  Wrap a cosy blanket around you as you ride through the picturesque, snow-filled countryside that surrounds ski resorts such as Big White, Banff Lake Louise and Whistler.  If you choose to visit the latter, resist the temptation to bring snacks on the sleigh and treat the family to a hearty three-course fondue dinner at The Chalet at The Fairmont Chateau Whistler hotel.  Whether you’re 5 or 75, you won’t forget this winter experience in a hurry!





Ice skatingScreen Shot 2015-01-13 at 10.35.37

Whether you spend more time sitting on the ice than gliding across it, ice skating offers family fun for kids and adults alike.  Many ski resorts offer fantastic skating but it’s worth remembering that Big White hosts North America’s highest outdoor ice rink which is the same size as an Olympic hockey rink!




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Fun and exhilarating for the whole family, tobogganing is a must when taking a holiday to Canada in the winter.  One of our favourite places to whizz down snowy slopes is at the Whistler Olympic Park. which offers unparalleled views of the Olympic ski jumps and surrounding mountain range as you stay firmly on the more gentle descent.  Whilst catching your breath, take the children to the enchanted world at the Magic Castle and Tree Fort before heading back for more fun in the snow.  We recommend tobogganing at Canada’s official parks where protective gear is provided, but if you do decide to go it alone, pack helmets for the family in case you experience a tumble or two (although that’s all part of the fun).


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Canada has wildlife in abundance, with many animals that cannot be seen in their natural habitats almost anywhere else in the world.  Let the whole family come up close and personal with their favourite creatures that only some people will ever dream of seeing.  On Banff Avenue, keep your eyes peeled for elk walking carefree along the streets amidst the traffic.  Mule deer and coyote are also common in Canada in the winter, but remember these are wild animals so if you should see them, keep your distance!  Don’t forget that snowshoe walking tours are a great way to explore the outdoors and look for winter wildlife.


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There’s no doubt that you can easily spend the entire holiday on the slopes or taking part in other wintery outdoor pursuits, but Canada offers some great, relaxing après-ski options, so don’t miss out on a chance to take some well-deserved time out!  A day on the mountain can take its toll on your body, so treat the kids to a splash in Banff’s hot pools against a backdrop of spectacular alpine scenery and indulge in a relaxing spa for the adults to relieve sore muscles.  We also recommend the 60 minute après-ski massage at Fairmont Banff Springs which has been voted one of the best spas in the world.  At Panorama, all guests can take advantage of the resort’s slope-side hot pools, which are the largest in Canada and offer the perfect place to wind down after a long day’s skiing.

Alternatively, if you’re staying in Whistler, spend some time wandering the pedestrian village, which has fantastic shopping opportunities, from stores stocked with the latest skiwear to galleries and craft shops.  And, of course, don’t forget the huge range of bars and restaurants which welcome families with open arms and serve some of the best – and most hearty – food and drink in Canada!

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