Heading to Saskatoon in the winter? Be ready to embrace the cold and white landscapes in style, and enjoy snowshoeing, skiing, and a host of winter festivals in the largest city of Saskatchewan. We lived here for over 4.50 years and have compiled the best things to do in Saskatoon in winter, with our packing and travel tips!
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Fun Things to do in Saskatoon in Winter
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What is Saskatoon famous for?
Saskatoon is the largest city in Saskatchewan. A city we are forever grateful for, to have given us professional opportunities, a quest for travel, and lots of road trips through the Prairies. Saskatoon showcases the province’s culture, history, and the indomitable Prairie spirit.
Downtown Saskatoon is a nice neighborhood with river valley views, trails, international cuisines, breweries and bars, and more.
Winter temperature in Saskatoon & Packing Tips
January is the coldest month in Saskatoon, with temperatures as low as minus 21 degrees Celsius. The winter months are from late November to March, where temperatures are below freezing point.
Here are our pro packing tips for enjoying your winter break in Saskatoon Saskatchewan
- Top and bottom thermal: Layering is key for Canadian winters. Wear a base layer like a nice Merino wool thermal top and bottom.
- Mid-layer: Get cozier with a mid-layer jacket, like this one
- Outerwear: This can be a waterproof parka or a nice wool coat. But in Saskatchewan winters, and especially outdoors we feel that a parka is better. Wear something that is long, and goes till the knee with a hood (to safeguard you from the winter elements). Here is one from North Face, that I like
- Snow Boots: Very important, they will keep you warm and also help you to walk without slipping and falling. Just ensure you are choosing the right boots that have a solid outsole for good traction on icy sidewalks.
- Warm/wool socks
- Other accessories like beanie, scarf, and gloves
- Cleats are a must. Or snowshoes if you are going snowshoeing!
What is there to do in Saskatoon in the winter?
There are a lot of fun things to do in Saskatoon in winter. Yes, there are extreme cold months (and many lasting typically longer than other places in Canada like Toronto), but as long as you are dressed warm you can have a great time in the city.
Snowshoe/walk the River Valley Trail
Meewasin Valley Trail is our favorite place to venture out in the winter. All of 90 kilometres, the trail runs through the heart of the city, and also offers some of the amazing views, particularly of the historic Delta Bessborough Hotel and the many bridges running over the South Saskatchewan River.
It is perfect for beginner-level snowshoeing, and winter hiking enthusiasts. Families including small children can also safely enjoy winter activities here.
You can choose your starting point at various parts of the city. We prefer to drive to the downtown area, park, and then make our way to the Delta Bessborough Hotel, under bridges, through landscaped parks, and along the river.
Go skating at the Skating Oval or the Cameco Meewasin Skating Rink
If you prefer to ice skate, visit the Cameco Meewasin Skating Rink, located in Kiwanis Memorial Park North beside the Delta Bessborough Hotel. You do have to bring in your skates here to enjoy and also book an entry time to access the rink (January 2021).
Or try kicksledding in the river valley in Saskatoon in winter
Kicksledding is a unique and fun way to spend winters in Saskatoon. This is not specific to Canadian winters, but credit goes to the Swedes for introducing it. So all you do is hop on a chair on metal runners that slides across the snow, and then go kicking off from behind. Kicksleds are available for rent at Escape Sports.
The Meewasin Valley Trails are still the best place to go kicksledding!
Visit Western Development Museum
If the cold is TOO much for you, head to the Western Development Museum. There are four museums of the same kind in the province, and I love the one in Saskatoon.
WDM is the largest museum in the whole of Saskatchewan and is home to over 80,000 artifacts. The museum showcases the introduction of railways, industrialization, and life as it was in those years of growth and development.
The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm, and closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. (Museum Closed on New Year’s Day, Family Day, Good Friday, Thanksgiving, Remembrance Day, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Day.
Museum Closed at 3:00 pm on Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve.)
There are gift shops and Boomtown Cafe in the complex, and they are open during the same day/time as the museum.
Explore displays at the Remai Art Gallery of Saskatchewan
If you are an art lover, the Remai Modern is the perfect place for you to spend the time. Its location, along the South Saskatchewan River in the downtown area, makes it easy to explore after a wander at the Meewasin Valley.
They are open on all days, except Mondays and Tuesdays. The museum’s permanent collection features over 8,000 works from Canadian and international artists. They also host temporary and seasonal exhibits.
Stop by the Delta Bessborough Hotel for tea, or overnight stay
After the bridges in Saskatoon, the Delta Bessborough Hotel is the most iconic structure in the city.
It is a historic hotel located in the downtown area, overlooking the river valley in Saskatoon. The Bessborough was constructed as part of the Canadian National Hotels (for the Canadian National Railway).
The hotel dates back to 1935 when the Châteauesque-styled building was created to serve as a resting place or an inn for railway employees. Today it is managed by Delta Hotels (hence the name – Delta Bessborough), a hotel chain part of Marriott International.
Hotel room rates at the Delta Bessborough start at $260 CAD+. They are great for a romantic weekend getaway in Saskatoon or just to treat yourself to a luxury stay soaking in the river valley covered in snow.
If you stay in the city, how about visiting the hotel restaurant for some nice afternoon tea or drinks and dinner in the evening?
Go skiing at the Diefenbaker Park & Optimist Hill
Optimist Hill is our very own city ski resort. They have everything from tubing to skiing and snowboarding. You can pay for a day pass or annual passes to access the ski lifts and rent snowboards and ski gear.
Prices for passes and rentals (2021):
- Adult Lift Passes (16+): $16 to $22 CAD daily or Seasonal pass of $330 CAD
- Adult Tube Passes (16+): $16 to $22 CAD daily
- Youth Tube/Lift Passes (Under 15): $12 to $15 CAD
- Snowboard Rentals $8 to $22 CAD
For more up-to-date details about ski seasons, and closures you can view here. Note that on some days due to extreme weather conditions the resort may be closed, so check ahead of time!
Take pictures with Santa Claus and go shopping
Want to take fun pictures with Santa Claus in Saskatoon, you are in luck. There are a number of Santa Claus – North Pole stations, where you can get pictures taken. Our favorite way to get photos taken (minus the cold) is by heading to a mall.
So whether it is the MidTown Plaza, Lawson Heights, or the Centre Mall, you will surely be delighted with all festive decorations, seasonal sales, and of course meet with Santa!
Watch a show at Saskatoon’s Broadway
To experience the ultimate cultural extravaganza in Saskatoon, Broadway is the place to be. From theatre, cafes to entertainment there are a ton of things to keep you busy!
Seasonal events change every year, and you can check out the latest schedule here
However, every year there are festive and Christmassy events that happen each year. All the merchants of Broadway get together to celebrate the Spirit of Christmas with sleigh rides throughout the district. There are festive stalls and handicrafts that you can purchase here, and enjoy marshmallow roast outside or meet with Santa Claus himself.
Winter festivals in Saskatoon from Christmas Parade to Lights at night
Canada gears up during the winter season, and Saskatoon is no different. We always look forward to experiencing winters in Canada, and loved our time when we lived in Saskatoon (it surely made us better drivers, driving in the snow!).
Anyhow, there are quite a few festivals that you can enjoy in Saskatoon in winter. They start as early as November and go on until early March, which is fabulous, right? And of course, you have guaranteed snow, so you are never late to capture white landscapes!
We loved the Enchanted Forest. It is a drive-through festive lights festival, and you get to soak in delightful lights decor from the comfort of your car seats. Passes are available per vehicle ($22 CAD+). This is Saskatchewan’s top winter tourist attraction.
Another family fun event takes place at the popular Wanuskewin Heritage Park. In February, they organize the Kona – Wanuskewin Winter Festival, which is a one-day event. In this festival, you can explore the park and also participate in games. This event is not only fun, but educational for all.
Here are some of the amazing winter festivals to enjoy in Saskatoon
|BHP Enchanted Forest – Drive through festive lights event (till January)|
|Santa Claus Parade (In 2020, it was organized as a virtual event)|
|Saskatchewan Craft Council organizes crafts festival|
|Nutrien WinterShines Festival for ice sculptures, festive art at the Farmer’s Market|
|Winter Wonderland Sleigh Rides|
|Kôna – Wanuskewin Winter Festival|
|Snowy Saturdays at the Beaver Creek (till March)|
|Nature Walks organized by Tourism Saskatoon (till March)|
|Nuit Blanche Winter Event|
Venture outside the city for more winter activities in and around Saskatoon
Eb’s Ski Trails
Located on Highway 11, just 17 km north of Duck Lake, you can enjoy Nordic or cross country skiing here. It is a great day trip option from the city of Saskatoon. There are over 52 km of trails that are used by skiers in the winter.
Other than the cross country skiing trails, snowshoe trails have been recently added. For updates you must visit Saskatoon Nordic Ski website.
Fat biking near the Waskesiu Trail
Although not a day trip, you can head to the Prince Albert National Park from Saskatoon for a full day (or two) and go cross-country skiing, hiking, fat, and snowshoeing. If you want to go fat biking, the Waskesiu trails are majestic and wonderful in the winter. The National Park is a great visit in the winters, generally for wildlife sightings.
Beaver Creek Conservation Area
Beaver Creek is a conservation area, located about 13 km south of Saskatoon on Highway 219. The area offers a range of trails and amazing Prairie landscape to enjoy in the winter. The terrain is mixed with hills, and plains and makes it a nice adventure, close to home.
Saskatoon Natural Grasslands
If you prefer to hang out by walks and soft adventure, then the Natural Grasslands are perfect for you. Saskatoon Natural Grasslands are a belt of grasslands that lies within the Silverspring area, which is about 8 kilometres from the city.
Here you can wander or walk along the South Saskatchewan River. This is a nice change of space than the one you have experienced in the downtown area.
CanoeSki Discovery Company is an adventure travel company, located in Saskatoon. They offer wilderness canoeing and cross-country skiing guided packages for visitors. If you are new to winter sports, this is a great place to start, and get some professional expertise and enjoy winter in a safe and more productive way!
Where to stay in Saskatoon in winter?
For your upcoming trip to Saskatoon, we have rounded up some of the best hotels to stay in the city. We stayed in a hotel when we moved there, and these picks are based on traveler reviews and opinions of our friends and family who have stayed in the properties.
We like the Downtown area for accommodation, but there are many hotels on the south side which are safe and a great option to stay in.
- ALT Saskatoon: ALT is a beautiful hotel, located in central Saskatoon. From here most of the sightseeing attractions will be closeby, and a little affordable as compared to the Delta Bessborough. You can check out photos here, and book
- Hilton Garden Downtown: This is another downtown favorite in Saskatoon. I used to work downtown, and this was located right where my office was. Love the property interiors, and the mall (Midtown) is just a few steps away from here. Check it out here
- Hampton Inn Saskatoon South: This hotel is located on Stonebridge Blvd in Saskatoon. It is a newer hotel and is a popular pick for couples, and families alike. Rooms are modern and clean, with free parking and WIFI. Check availability here
- We like Hampton Inn properties (in Alberta as well). If you prefer one close to the airport, here is one
So that’s a wrap! We hope you enjoyed reading about all the fun things to do in Saskatoon in winter, and are ready to enjoy some snow and lots of icy cold days! Just remember to dress warmly!