Pandemic pastimes: 8 things to do in Edmonton during the holidays

Classes are out, but in the midst of a pandemic, what do you do with the kids? Here's eight inexpensive, even free, ideas to help you get through the holidays in a safe, socially-distant way.

From outdoor ice, to little-known public parks, to virtual visits to museums and galleries

Len Chambers, a senior horticulturist and curator of the Kurimoto Japanese Garden at the University of Alberta Botanic Garden, shows off the lights of Luminaria. (Rick Bremness/CBC)

Classes are out, but in the midst of a pandemic, what do you do with the kids? Here's eight inexpensive, even free, ideas to help you get through the holidays in a safe, socially-distant way.

Nice Outdoor Ice

With arenas closed if you're looking to take a turn on the ice, then there are a few City of Edmonton outdoor rinks worth considering. Victoria Park skating oval and iceway, the Meadows Community Recreation Centre outdoor rink and at the Rundle Park iceway, Castle Downs and Jackie Parker parks are all open for the season. Check with your local community league about rinks in your neighbourhood but note there are limits on the number of people that can be on the ice and other changes as a result of the pandemic. 

The iceways at Victoria Park and Rundle Park are open for skating along with the Meadows Community Recreation Centre outdoor rink. (Adrienne Lamb/CBC)

You can see more from Victoria Park Skating Oval and Ice Way on Our Edmonton at 10 a.m. Saturday, noon on Sunday and 11 a.m. on Monday on CBC TV and the CBC GEM. 

A Virtual Visit to a Museum, Gallery or Science Centre

Normally, places like the Telus World of Science and the Royal Alberta Museum would be bustling with patrons and activities. Instead many of these cultural institutions, closed due to COVID-19, are offering virtual experiences. With facilities just a click away, you could also drop in at the Royal Tyrrell Museum or Calgary's Glenbow Museum.

The Children's Gallery at the Royal Alberta Museum would normally be filled with families during the holidays, but you can visit online as well. (Adrienne Lamb/CBC)

Library Take Out 

Branches of the Edmonton Public Library are closed to in-person visits over the holidays, but 13 of their locations invite you to select something online and they'll have it ready for pick up. 

Park Play 

If you're looking to get out to play in the snow or get a bit of fresh air, consider visiting one of the lesser-known and lesser-frequented public parks in Edmonton. Check out the above map for locations, details and amenities.

The grounds of the Alberta Legislature is just one of the many spots to catch holiday lights at this time of year. (Adrienne Lamb/CBC)

Outdoor Light Displays

From drive-thru to walking, viewing light displays is a long-standing Edmonton tradition. Visit the University of Alberta Botanic Garden, the Castrol Raceway or the Edmonton Valley Zoo. Checking the website and booking tickets ahead online for many of these events is a must. 

Creative Crafting

If the video game console is working over time and movie marathons, puzzles and board games just aren't doing it, how about a creative craft or adventure? Maybe a blanket fort, a backyard scavenger hunt or building a metropolis left over from those holiday boxes. Here's a list of supplies and ideas that might spark something for you. 

A six-storey creation by Spanish artist Okuda San Miguel on the north wall of the Crawford Block is just one of the murals to be seen in Old Strathcona. (Adrienne Lamb/CBC)

Outdoor Art and History Tours

In Edmonton and area we have dozens of outdoor murals and historic tours like the Edmonton Commonweatlh Walkway available year round. Admittedly more popular in the summer, they are on display year round. There are online guides to walking tours in the downtown and Old Strathcona neighbourhoods as well as towns like Stony Plain, west of Edmonton. 

Season of Sliding

Ski hills in Alberta remain open under the new provincial guidelines, while hitting the nearest sliding hill might be another option. The City of Edmonton lists six toboggan hills that might give you some new spots to slide. 


Adrienne Lamb


Adrienne Lamb is the host and producer of Our Edmonton featured weekly on CBC TV. She served for several years as CBC Radio's national arts reporter in Edmonton. Prior to moving to Alberta in 2001, Adrienne worked at CBC in Ontario and New Brunswick. Adrienne is a graduate of Western University with a degree in English and Anthropology and a Masters in Journalism.


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