Vacations at any time of the year are always amazing. Vacations during the winter seem almost necessary. Unfortunately, some of us aren’t able to dish out the large amount of money usually needed to travel outside of the city (flights = $$$ ??). We’re instead left with annoying decisions like “should I pay down my student loan or go to Italy?”or “should I comfortably afford to pay rent/buy groceries, or go to Singapore (and not be able to eat)?”

So to ease the pain of having to make financially responsible decisions (ugh), here are some fun things that you can do in or near Edmonton! The good news is, you can always find ways to enjoy yourself on any budget.

via @iceonwhyte

1. Head to the Ice on Whyte Festival.

Head out to watch the awe-inspiring ice carving competition! You'll be amazed by all the talent, and will have the opportunity to learn how to carve ice as well. Oh, and there's a gigantic ice slide too. I don't know about you, but the slide sold me on this right away.

Dates: Jan 26 - 29 and Feb 2 - 5

via @paranoidandrooid

2. Explore The Ice Castles.

So this is truly a must-see guys. It's actually so beautiful. Visit this enormous fortress of an ice sculpture (i.e. real-life Narnia). You'll be amazed by the ice waterfalls, ice throne room, ice slides etc. This is a spectacular work of art that will help take your mind off that trip to Cabo your friend just went on and won't stop posting photos of (you know, the one you planned on going on too, before you remembered you had no disposable income).

Dates: TBD (also, weather-dependant)

Price: $12.95 Monday - Thursday and $15.95 Friday - Sunday (price based on last year's admission fee)

via @miktacular

3. Go Snowshoeing Along the River Valley.

Having the River Valley Trails is a huge perk of living in Edmonton. So why not make use of them during the winter as well? Grab some friends and some snowshoes and go for a fun little adventure during the day (obviously, this can only occur when we actually have a significant amount of snow...but don't worry, it's Edmonton, it'll happen soon enough).

via @silverskatefest

4. Visit the Silver Skate Festival.

The Ice Castles I spoke about above, are part of the Silver Skate Festival. But apart from that, there's so many other fun sights/activities to watch or take part in (i.e. skating [obviously], fire sculptures, live entertainment etc.). There's so much to do that you won't even be sad you're not on vacation (okay, you may still be sad--BUT, you will have fun and will be momentarily distracted at the very least).

Dates: February 10 - 20

Price: Free entrance to festival

via @sharonnam7

5. Check out Christmas-Themed Events/Markets.

While it's still the holiday season, take advantage of all the fun markets and Christmas-themed events going on in the city. The cheerful holiday spirit and twinkling Christmas lights will be sure to put you in a good mood.

Some of the events/markets going on in the city are listed here.

via @mikequan

6. Go Skating at City Hall or Another Beautiful Outdoor Rink.

What's better than a vacation? Skating! Just kidding, it's not. But, it is a whole lot of fun regardless. And Edmonton has beautiful outdoor skating rinks that are open during the winter months.

Check out the rinks at the Alberta Legislature Building and City Hall.

via @wherezjeff

7. Go Star Gazing or Watch the Northen Lights.

Who needs to drop 1000's of dollars on a vacation when you can travel to outer space for FREE. Well, by travel I mean go to an observatory and star gaze, or head out of the city to catch a glimpse of the northern lights. Same thing right? Okay, maybe not. Regardless, it will be an experience that is "out of this world" (I'm hilarious, I know).

Check out the U of A Observatory for stargazing, and Elk Island for views of the Northern Lights.

via @fitsetpass

8. Learn to Surf at West Edmonton Mall.

A perfect way to feel like you're on vacation in the tropics will be to head to the World Waterpark at WEM and take surf lessons. Sounds like fun to me!

Price: $79 for a lesson

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