Our Winter Holiday in Canada
Come the holiday season, the McNally clan love nothing more than to pack up our bags and jet off to Canada to experience the fun and festivities. Our countdown to departure day starts ticking down earlier in the year. We book in January so we can look forward to our family trip all year.
Travelling through Western Canada allows you to experience the beauty of the Canadian outdoors and all the winter wonders on offer at this special time of the year. There's just nothing quite like the crisp mountain air on your face and the crunch underfoot as you walk on snow, or that feeling when you see the excitement in your kid's eyes as they see snowfall and try catching snowflakes on their tongue.
No matter how many times they've played in it, kids love snow! Days can be easily filled with snowball fights, snow angels and tobogganing. Ski school is a great way to get the kids involved in the outdoors, learn some skills and burn off some energy.
We loved our time at Sun Peaks in the BC Interior. It is the second biggest ski area in Canada – second only to Whistler. It's a super family-friendly ski resort and much quieter and relaxed than the busy resorts like Banff and Whistler. We found it was a great place to find our ski legs and practice turns and snowplough stops without getting in anyone's way.
With champagne powder in abundance, you'll find this place perfect for getting out and strapping on a snowboard or pair of skis, or surrendering yourself to a team of strong and determined huskies pulling you on a sled adventure.
Canada's winter wonderland is full of things to do and explore for the whole family. The options are endless with snowshoeing walks, ice skating rinks, cross country skiing and downhill skiing. For the less adventurous, or those seeking a day off from the slopes, the winter magic continues with ice fishing, fat biking, wildlife and wilderness tours. Take an ice walk exploring frozen canyons and waterfalls, or a horse-drawn sleigh ride on the snowy trails.
I recommend choosing accommodation with a fireplace; nothing is better than getting back to your room after a great day out, getting toasty in front of a crackling fire and watching the snow fall silently on the ground outside. Not only does the warmth help dry out your gloves and boots, sitting around the fire is a great way to reflect on the day's activities and plan tomorrow.
A Christmas spent in Canada is certainly very different from one spent here at home. I always pinch myself at how beautiful a white Christmas is. Wafting aromas of cinnamon and warm spices, Christmas tree pines, and hot chocolate after a day out in the snow is a genuinely heart-warming and homely feeling, all the way across the other side of the world from the hot summer sunshine of Australia.
After our four-week Christmas-calorie splurge in the BC interior and the Rocky Mountains, where we indulged in egg nog, mulled wine, poutine, rainbow trout (that we were chuffed to catch ourselves), hot wings, craft beer, wood-fired pizza, Tim Horton donuts, pumpkin pie and many other wonderful Canadian treats; we made our way back to our holiday starting point in Vancouver to thaw out before the long-haul home. We enjoyed the final few days souvenir shopping and taking a floatplane ride for my son's birthday.
Now home, suitcases have been emptied, the new magnet has its place on the fridge. I've washed and packed away the thermals and ski jacket all while thinking of the great times we have had on our holiday. And best of all I have an expanding note-to-self of all the things I look forward to doing when next we travel to Canada.
Our best advice for planning your dream Christmas holiday to Canada is to start early. Booking well ahead helps you ensure availability, capture the early-bird rates to save some money, and allows you to get excited in the build-up for your holiday. Arriving in Canada mid-December gives you a great countdown to Christmas and plenty of time to make the most of the many fun pre-Christmas activities on offer throughout the festive month. With your holiday booked, you'll be counting down the days till you're fireside, warming up with family members young and old, creating memories to share for years to come.