Discover the Wonders of Winter in British Columbia

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This winter, embrace the season and discover the wonder of nature in BC. Relax in a cozy cabin, soak in a natural hot spring, explore a new city, and wander a trail lined with giant snow-covered cedar trees. Here, you can rejuvenate your soul in the wilderness.

Tofino | John Entwistle

Feel Nature’s Power ­­­­­

It’s easy to become hypnotized by the rhythmic energy of the waves as they crash into the edge of the world. BC’s storm-watching epicenter is found in the oceanside villages of Tofino and Ucluelet on Vancouver Island. Take a morning wander along the shoreline as gigantic waves break onto Long Beach in Pacific Rim National Park, and spend cozy afternoons fireside in a beachfront cabin or wilderness lodge perched on the edge of a rocky cliff. Resorts like Pacific Sands Beach ResortBlack Rock Oceanfront Resort, and more offer storm-watching packages, including complimentary rain gear, encouraging guests to get into the elements and witness those massive storms hit the rugged West Coast. If you’d rather get right in it, grab a surfboard. Cold-water surfing is not for the faint of heart, and only for experienced surfers, but those who dare know there is nothing quite like moving in tandem with the sea. Rent a board or take a lesson from one of the many surf schools in town. Surfing or storm watching, both experiences will instantly connect you to nature’s power.

 

Bodega Ridge | @joordanrenee

Relax and Decompress

Sometimes chilly days and snow-covered landscapes are best enjoyed from inside cozy cabins, relaxing yoga dens, and soothing spas. For an island escape, hop over to the Gulf Islands, Canada’s version of the San Juans, and check out Galiano. Here, Bodega Ridge and newly opened sister resort, Bodega Cove, offer a quiet escape for those looking to curl up by a fire with a good book. On Salt Spring Island, rejuvenate in a wood-burning barrel sauna at Salty Pear. Visit Bowen Island and Nectar Yoga B&B for yoga classes in a geodesic dome and overnights in forest cabins. Venture to the Sunshine Coast, where Painted Boat Resort Spa & Marina hides amongst the islands and inlets of Pender Harbour. Spend hours soaking in the hot and cool pools, sauna, and around the outdoor fire pit after a deep tissue massage. Up for more adventure? Head west to the Canadian Rockies and follow the Hot Springs Circle Route to soak in five different outdoor mineral hot springs nestled between quaint mountain towns.

Myra Kanyon Trestles | Matthew Clark

Wander a Snowy Landscape

Exploring the outdoors is a year-round activity in British Columbia. One of the most unique winter experiences is located just outside Kelowna, where visitors can explore the Myra Canyon and Kettle Valley Rail Trail by snowshoe. Wander into a steep, walled canyon, through two tunnels, and over 18 trestles while powder snow crunches underfoot. Be sure to keep an eye out for wildlife along the way. In the bustling city of Vancouver, the mountains are closer than you think. In just 20 minutes from downtown, adventure-seekers can find themselves surrounded by towering trees and snow-capped mountains. Head for Cypress Mountain to cross-country ski on lit night trails before cozying up at the Hollyburn Lodge for hot cocoa and live music in the forest. Find more cross-country trails in the Callaghan Valley, just south of Whistler, and glide on track-set trails or opt for a snowshoe to a frozen waterfall. Gliding through nature is an option, too. In BC’s Kootenay Rockies, visitors can skate along the Lake Windermere Whiteway—the longest ice-skating pathway in the world at 34 kilometres (21 miles) long—for a perfect winter’s day out. 

Vancouver Art Gallery | Tanya Goehring

Take a City Getaway

BC’s urban centres come alive with vibrant celebrations to pass the days of winter. Vancouver’s Eastside Culture Crawl welcomes art lovers inside the studios of more than 400 artists from November 14-17. For more art and cultural inspiration, check out the bold, contemporary expression of Cindy Sherman at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Emily Carr’s display of French modernism paintings at the Audain Art Museum in Whistler, or the Maya civilization exhibit at the Royal BC Museum in Victoria. In Steveston, on select Sundays from October through April, visitors can visit the Cannery Farmers’ Market and browse the work of local artisans inside the Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site. A trip to the Okanagan in winter is perfect for wine lovers. Visit during Light up the Vines, held on certain nights in November and December, when 18 wineries, three cideries, a brewery, and a distillery get festive with twinkling lights, live music, outdoor firepits, wine pairings, and cuisine tastings along Summerland’s Bottleneck Drive.

Barkerville | @mary.mclay

Join Small-Town Holiday Celebrations

Holiday celebrations at Butchart Gardens in Victoria and the Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver are staples to get into the festive spirit, but there are lesser-known events in BC worth discovering. The eclectic town of Nelson holds a Winter Kickoff from November 21-December 1 with markets, live music, events, and carnivals to welcome the season. On December 1, downtown Kelowna is host to a Winter Street Market with outdoor skating and firepits, live entertainment, food, and artisan vendors. In Kamloops, a long-standing tradition continues through December on the Spirit of Christmas holiday train. Travel through a wintery landscape and enjoy onboard carols, hot chocolate, festive décor, and a surprise from the jolly man in red. Go back in time at Barkerville’s Old-Fashioned Victorian Christmas, running December 14-16, and celebrate in this historic gold rush town. Or head to Sun Peaks for their annual Holiday Kick-Off Weekend, December 14-15, with an artisan market, caroling, sleigh rides, and more.

The wide-open spaces, massive old-growth trees, and the powerful nature of Canada’s West Coast in winter is an entirely new experience—one worth discovering for yourself.  

 

Featured image: Ucluelet | Boomer Jerritt

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