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5 Best Natural Ice Skating Rinks

Photo: Craig Douce

Photo: Craig Douce

By Breanna Temple & Niki Wilson

Feel a rush of fresh air as you whirl around these magical mountain outdoor ice rinks.

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise: Skate into an ice castle on picturesque Lake Louise with Victoria Glacier as the backdrop. Partake in impromptu shinny action at the adjacent hockey area.

The Pond, Canmore: Tranquility only three blocks from Main St. Find a gazebo with heaters, lighting to 10 pm and lots of family events.


Hot Dates: Viva Voyageur

This original winter festival is back to celebrate its 45th year. Explore Winnipeg’s French pioneer history with the whole family, during this interactive extravaganza. Try traditional treats, like maple taffy, marvel at magnificent snow sculptures, toboggan, or catch live music performances happening by day and night. Feb 14-23.

Ice Skating in Toronto Offers Frosty Fun

Nathan Phillips Square Toronto

The Nathan Phillips Square skating rink is a popular spot for cold-weather revellers.

There may not be a lot to like about sub-zero temperatures, but one positive that Torontonians all agree on is that cold weather makes for some great outdoor skating. Long a favourite winter pastime for young and old alike, heading out for a spin around the ice is easy to do in this city, especially at two popular spots: Harbourfront Centre’s Natrel Rink offers lakeside views and special DJ skate nights, while at Nathan Phillips Square you can glide beside City Hall. Both rinks offer skate rentals so there’s no excuse not to hit the ice with the whole family.  —Ana Taveira

>> Natrel Rink at Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W., 416-973-4866; harbourfrontcentre.com, map and reviews
>> Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen St. W; toronto.ca, map and reviews

Hot Date: Enjoy a Bright Night in the Big City

(photo: City of Toronto)

NOVEMBER 17  As winter weather arrives, there are few better ways to keep warm outdoors than by gathering with thousands of revelers to enjoy the Cavalcade of Lights. For the 45th year in a row, Toronto’s official kick-off to the holiday season decks City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square (100 Queen St. W.) with thousands of festive bulbs and a massive, beautifully decorated Christmas tree, and celebrates their inaugural illumination with musical performances and a fireworks display. The lights will remain aglow through the end of December, while public skating draws crowds so long as there’s a chill in the air. Free admission; dial 311 (within Toronto) or visit here for more information.  —Ana Taveira

Chatting with Vancouver Rollerblader Extraordinaire Leon Basin

Leon Basin has a message: rollerblading is back, and he wants you to try it

By Sheri Radford

Leon Basin enjoys the challenge and creativity of rollerblading. Photo by KK Law

It was 1994 and Leon Basin was 12 years old, growing up in Tel Aviv, when the rollerblading craze swept the world. He wanted a pair. His parents, having watched Basin lose interest in swimming, chess, martial arts and handball, were hesitant to buy shiny new skates that might end up mothballed under the bed, so he saved every cent until he could afford to purchase a pair of his own.

It was love at first skate.


Hot Entertainment: Kurt Browning Directs the Stars on Ice Canada Tour

Canadian skater Kurt Browning is the choreographer of this year's Stars on Ice Canada tour

He’s been skating with Stars on Ice Canada (May 18 at Rogers Arena) since it began 21 years ago, and now Kurt Browning (pictured) is finally in the driver’s seat. This year marks his first as show director, leading an all-star line-up that includes recently minted World Champion ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. Browning, himself a four-time World Champion and the first skater ever to land a quadruple jump in competition, says he’s excited to end the tour in Vancouver, where he once hiked Grouse Mountain. “If I didn’t think my 45-year-old legs would hate me during the show, I would do it again!” —Kristina Urquhart

Hot Dining: Where to See Skaters on the Rideau Canal

We round up the best spots to grab a bite with the added enjoyment of watching skaters on the Rideau Canal.

Skaters take a snack break at the BeaverTails counter.

BeaverTail Shacks
Located on the Rideau Canal Skateway, you can skate up to the window, order one of these delicious Canadian treats, and grab a spot on a picnic bench without ever leaving the ice. Be honest: isn’t one of the main reasons you go skating here to have a BeaverTail and a hot chocolate after?
Several locations along the Rideau Canal. www.beavertailsinc.com

Canal Ritz
This Italian restaurant boasts one of the most scenic views of the canal and is located right near one of the entrances to the skateway, so after you’re done your meal it’s easy to lace up your skates and join in on the fun. Rather watch? Snag a seat by the big windows and curl up with a specialty coffee.
375 Queen Elizabeth Dr. (at Fifth Avenue), 613-238-8998. www.canalritz.com

Canal Oak
Part of the Royal Oak Pubs chain, this unique two-storey location is situated near the Pretoria Bridge, which crosses over the canal. Order a pint, relax by the fire, and enjoy some colourful people watching. It’s also a top spot to head after you’ve traversed the ice and need to refuel.
221 Echo Dr., 613- 234-3700. www.royaloakpubs.com