Walking In a Winter Wonderland

Magic has arrived in Edmonton, where Hawrelak Park has been transformed into a scene straight out of Disney’s Frozen. Our very own ice castle has appeared, bringing even the most avid winter hibernators out into the wild. Icicles form an enchanting archway as you step into the castle, welcomed by the instrumental sounds of the Frozen theme song. People eagerly wait for their chance at sliding down the ice slide or to take a seat on the ice throne while the rest of us wander in and out of the paths, tall walls of ice on either side.

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Everywhere you look is another mind blowing display of artistry – hundreds upon hundreds of hand-crafted icicles put together to form the entire castle.

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Don’t forget to dress warm – it is an ice castle after all. Luckily, there’s a little spot for you to warm up your hands.

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… before exploring some more!

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I am SO happy that I turned around after walking out of the castle or else I might have missed this heart that had been carved into the ice.

If you’re in the area or ever have an opportunity to visit an ice castle, I highly recommend it! In the daytime, the ice, snow and winter sky creates a white on white on white appearance that is beautiful. But when darkness hits, the ice castle is flooded in beautiful lights – so a visit in the evening would be just as magical.

 

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‘Tis the Season!

There might not be snow on the ground yet but Canadians are already beginning to embrace the spirit of the Winter season. Churchill Square kicked off the beginning of a number of winter and Christmas-themed events that will be popping up all around the city for the next five months with their annual Holiday Light Up.

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In the hours leading to the light up the square was busy with performances by special guests, food vendors, stilt walkers, clowns and mascots but everything slowed down as the countdown for the light up began.

Bundled up in scarves, toques and mittens, hundreds of people gathered around around to watch the Mayor light up the tree as the sun set and darkness engulfed the square. At 74-ft. tall and adorned with 14 thousand LED lights and decorations, it was a spectacular moment that left everyone in awe.

With cheers and claps from the crowd, the event was topped off with a beautiful fireworks display that illuminated the sky.

If you missed the action, don’t worry! Churchill Square will be lit up (minus the fireworks) for rest of the season. Head out when the sun has gone down, bundle up in your coziest winter attire and take a stroll through the square to get a first-hand view of the beautiful lights on display.

Sunday Snapshot: The Icefields Parkway, Alberta

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This photo, taken along the Icefield Parkway between the Rocky Mountain towns of Jasper and Banff, AB is just one of the jaw-dropping views along this stretch of mountain highway. Looking up to the center of the photo, you can see one of the Rocky Mountain’s glaciers that supply all the surrounding lakes and rivers with pure glacier water. You can fill up your water bottle for a taste of some of the purest water in the world.

Braving a Chilly Afternoon, Pt. 2: Devonian Gardens

Nestled up on the fourth floor of Calgary’s downtown shopping centre, The Core, is an indoor oasis filled with palm-trees, flowers, ponds and fountains. After spending our morning having brunch at The Coup, mom and I made our way to the mall, Starbucks in hand, and ventured on up to the fourth floor. Before we knew it we had crossed over from bustling shopping centre into a garden filled with the sounds of flowing water and the color green all around. It may have been in my mind, but instantly I even felt warmer, like it was summertime at last!

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These Devonian Gardens fill up an entire hectare of the fourth floor of the mall, allowing guests to walk along the paths and enjoy. There was quite a number of people in the gardens, doing whatever they pleased. Strolling around the garden, children playing in the playground, couples having a coffee date, students studying, homeless folks finding shelter from the cold, teenagers practicing their juggling skills, and people having their hand at the piano set up for public use.

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While there has long been an interest among people to throw coins into ponds, help keep the fish here safe by not doing so.

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After walking throughout the garden and snapping a few photos, we seated ourselves beneath the palm-trees and I imagined myself on a warm, sandy beach with the waves of the ocean crashing before me. I was just about to take a sip from my pina colada when the sound of my mom’s voice brought me back to the reality. Thankfully, there were actually some palm trees in reality.
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With a good three months of winter left to go here, I definitely think I will be finding myself here more and more, particularly when the time comes to study for university exams! The Devonian Gardens are open to all ages, is wheelchair accessible and is entirely free. If you need a mini-vacation away from the cold Canadian winter, take yourself here, sit under a palm tree and imagine the sound of the fountain is actually a waterfall in the tropics.

A Christmas Wonderland.

We continued to drive down the stretch of country road, the night engulfed in darkness apart from our headlights. As we went along, we turned a corner and there it was. The beginning of one of the biggest displays of Christmas cheer I had ever seen.

Every year for the past ten years, thousands of twinkling lights are set up on an acreage in Leduc, AB from the efforts of one family. What started out as something just for the family has grown into a popular activity for the entire community of Leduc and surrounding cities. Free of charge, guests are asked only to bring a non-perishable food donation for the Food Bank. If you’re feeling generous this Christmas, cash donation are also accepted.

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People young and old gather at the acreage and begin their walk along a snowy path lined with Christmas lights that make their way throughout the five acre plot of land. From hundreds of glowing Christmas trees to reindeer, snowmen, and even Santa himself, this spectacle is a great event for all ages. If you are traveling through Alberta or in the area, I would highly recommend taking a quick trip out to see the display. This Christmas season is quickly coming to an end, but the display will be running until January 4th, 2014, with the lights going on at 4pm each day. If you miss it this season, it is expected to run again for it’s eleventh year in a row starting December 1st, 2014.

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So, how do you get there? The Christmas display is located in Leduc County at the intersection of Range Road 260 and Township Road 492. Drive West from Leduc on Highway 39, left on Range Road 260. Drive along for a little while and turn left again onto Township Road 492. This place is impossible to miss, just keep an eye out for the lights!