Winter on the prairie. A sentence that is so cold and cool that even Santa Claus trembles in his boots when he is mentioned. Listen, if you live anywhere in Saskatchewan, understand how difficult the coldest half of the year can be.
I used to be one of those people who went to sleep with Xbox and Netflix in hours and waited for the snow to melt. I still do a lot of these things during winter, but something special has happened in the past three years. I started enjoying the snow and ice and all the wonderful winter activities and facilities Regina has to offer. It has drastically improved my mental health, changed my perception of this amazing city, and I am actually delighted with the prospect of snow and freezing temperatures as I can do various activities that I can only do in winter.
Here are my favorite winter pursuits in Regina:
Outdoor ice rinks
For me, the worst part of winter is early November to late December. There is little snow, the temperatures are not cold enough to freeze the rinks, and it is too cold for crisp autumn walks. I call it “Saskatchewan Purgatory”.
As soon as the holiday season is over, you can prepare for winter fun! My parents never forced me to play hockey as an adult, but I bought my first pair of ice skates and a hockey stick a few years ago, and I didn’t look back. One of my favorite places around the world is Leslie Park (3700 Victoria Ave) outdoor ice rink. In my eyes this is the “Taj Mahal” of the Regina outdoor ice rinks. I have dreams of this place. The local association is located in the beautiful cathedral district in the shadow of the Mosaic Stadium and the Brandt Center and is proud of its ice rink. There’s nothing better than practicing punching shots with a few buddies. I even wrote a (fictional) song about standing up for a date here. A mild winter evening of rounds of skating, while huge snowflakes float peacefully on the ice and muffled the sound of the passing freight trains, will enchant you and you will be back soon.
Another very popular outdoor ice rink that is perfect for people who don’t have ice skates, are looking for a unique after-work activity, or want to stay in a downtown hotel is the City Square ice rink. What could be nicer than renting a few ice skates and doing a few laps in the heart of the city? It is a short walk from the ice rink to reach one of the great bars in the city center such as The Fat Badger (1852 Scarth St), Beer Bros (1821 Scarth St), The Capital (1843 Hamilton St), The Cure (2323 11th Ave). or O’Hanlons (1947 Scarth St) for a post skate drink!
There are other great outdoor ice rinks scattered across the city. Take a thermos of coffee or hot chocolate and a few buddies and step on the ice.
Cross-country skiing is also a relatively new pastime for me. The Regina Ski Club makes a great contribution to the maintenance of cross-country trails in the entire Regina parking system. My two favorite places within the city limits are Les Sherman Park near the Neil Balkwill Arts Center (2420 Elphinstone St) and the hiking trails near the Saskatchewan Science Center (2903 Powerhouse Dr).
If you go to the trails of the Saskatchewan Science Center, we recommend that you warm up for a few hours and explore the exhibits before enjoying delicious food at the Skye Cafe & Bistro, which is also in the same building as the Science Center.
These two slopes offer great opportunities to learn to ski before heading off to some of the beautiful rural slopes at nearby White Butte (near Pilot Butte), Moose Mountain Provincial Park, or Duck Mountain Provincial Park. Buy or rent some skis from a great local company like Fresh Air Experience (532 Victoria Ave) and try cross-country skiing this winter! It quickly became one of my favorite winter activities in Regina.
Regina Flower Conservatory
Last winter I was at the Regina Floral Conservatory (1450B 4 Ave) for the first time in my life to host an album listening party. I loved all the beautiful flowers and plants in the winter garden. As a certified “plant father”, I give the Regina Floral Conservatory “2 out of 2 plant tables filled with non-dead houseplants”.
The facility is run by volunteers, they frequently swap their gardens, and they are collecting donations to build a state-of-the-art new facility in Wascana Park. Pick the coolest, frostiest day and raise your mood with beautiful flowers. Don’t forget to donate to support your fundraiser for the construction of your new winter garden! Regina needs a place like the Flower Conservatory to remind us that summer, gardens and greenery are just around the corner.
MacKenzie Art Gallery
The Mackenzie Art Gallery (3475 Albert St) is one of my favorite quiet, thoughtful places in the world. I will not say too much about this place except that you should make frequent visits throughout the winter. Go for a coffee in the Craft Services Cafe, view the art, see the plants in the atrium and feed your soul. I am very grateful that this gallery has served Regina faithfully for decades.
Let’s go, my tips to survive and thrive in the world’s most confusing, isolated, and harsh winter environments. Enjoy and hug this season and I promise you will not be disappointed. Thank you for visiting Regina and see you next time!
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