What is Calgary’s Winter Strategy and why do we need one?

What is Calgary’s Winter Strategy and why do we need one?

We have chinooks, toboggan hills, outdoor fire pits, more than 1000 kms of pathways, more than two kilometres of ice trails, hundreds of kilometres of groomed and ungroomed cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails and we are celebrating the first year of Chinook Blast. There is so much to do in Calgary during the winter. And when the pandemic eases, we will be able to gather for events again, and we’ll love winter even more.

“Creating a Winter City Strategy is about declaring to the world as well as our own citizens that Calgary is ‘the place to be’ in the winter. It is about promoting and celebrating all that Calgary offers during the winter – from experiencing arts and culture to supporting local business and the tourism and hospitality sectors,” says Jennifer Davis, Business Strategist with Calgary Recreation and project lead of the Winter City Strategy.

“This year, without tourism, we are focused on promoting outdoor winter activities to Calgarians, reminding them that winter doesn’t need to be a time to stay indoors, waiting for the snow to melt, but to feel lucky to live in a city that offers outdoor winter activities that can’t be found in many other cities of the world.”

Just as Calgary fills with tourists and visitors for festivals and events at other times of the year (when there is no global pandemic), the goal is to create more economic, social and cultural opportunities during Calgary’s winter months.

Calgary City Council directed administration to build a winter strategy in 2019 to celebrate our unique winter opportunities, extend Calgary’s festival and event season, find ways to improve safety and accessibility and improve the economy, especially in our downtown core – during the winter. Work began just as the COVID-19 pandemic set in last year.

“As we follow all public health orders and do what we can to limit the spread of the pandemic, we launched Love Winter this month, encouraging citizens to enjoy outdoor winter activities and support Chinook Blast,” says Jennifer. “In future years, we will add more elements such as opportunities to support the economy through festivals and events, cultural and recreational activities and initiatives, improving city spaces to ensure safety and removing barriers to participation.”

The City of Calgary is one of ten partners in Chinook Blast, a walk-through experience, concentrated downtown with art, light, and cultural displays, providing a taste of what Calgarians and visitors can expect in years to come. The displays will brighten up this winter from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the weekends from February 13 – 28, 2021. For information visit

In November 2020 we kickstarted winter with a new fire pit program. Starting with 33 community and five regional park fire pits available for free drop-in or bookable use, we issued more than 600 fire pit permits/bookings in just two months. As a result, we’ve added more fire pits, and now there are more than 70 for citizens to use for free (drop-in or book). This year, we’ve issued more than 900 fire pit permits/bookings and continue to encourage citizens to use their own propane fire pits in Calgary parks or greenspaces.

Adding to the winter fire pits program, Love Winter promotions bring together all our outdoor winter activities for citizens to learn about, and hopefully take part in.

As we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and the many changes to our daily life, this winter is the perfect time to check out winter fire pits, or snow shoeing, ice trails, outdoor skating rinks, or tobogganing and sledding on more than 20 City-maintained hills. Citizens are invited to share their winter adventures with us using #LoveWinterYYC.

We look forward to future Calgary winters when we can achieve more goals of the Winter City Strategy. To find out about Calgary winter activities and learn more about our Winter City Strategy, head to