A Winterlude

If you look at Indian movies of the past, every time they wanted an exotic location, they would have a dance number in Kashmir. India being a hot country, Kashmir was our fairyland. People would be entranced by the sight of snow. They probably grew up thinking of snow as a luxury, which you visit. Nothing has changed. The sight of snow still fascinates us, Kashmir is still our paradise. However, there are number of destinations around the world you could visit if you find snow alluring. Canada is on top of that list. Canada is beautiful to say the least. Come winter and the country transforms into picture-postcard.

A country of contrasts, Canada is packed with a punch. One of the major countries in American continent, it is filled with unexpected wonders that are sure to awaken your inner explorer. The second-largest country in the world, Canada is a land of vast distances and rich natural beauty. Renowned worldwide for its vast, untouched landscape, its unique blend of cultures and multifaceted history, Canada is one of the world's wealthiest countries and a major tourist destination.

Winter in Canada may be chilly, but it has plenty to offer both the adventure seeker and city slicker. What's the weather like in Canada in winter?

The height of winter is cold in most places in Canada except for the BC coast, where winters are moderate. Whistler, two hours inland from Vancouver, on the other hand, gets loads of snow and is a major ski destination through May. All you have to do is dress up warm & you are ready to enjoy this winter wonderland. Canada has so much to offer the snow lovers that you would need to make a revisit to experience it all. From the stunning Northern Lights to skiing, snowmobile trails, fun-filled dogsled rides, icewalks, snowshoeing, getting as close as possible to the frozen Niagara Falls in a helicopter ride and relaxing in hot springs in Canadian Rockies, winter in Canada is fascinating.

Some winter vacation ideas in Canada include a visit to the Quebec Ice Hotel or Hôtel de Glace, located just outside of Quebec City. The only ice hotel in North America is open from January 5 to March 22, 2015. Made entirely of snow and ice, this architectural marvel is a wonder to behold. Explore the beautiful Great Hall, Chapel, ice slide, exhibitions and Ice Bar. You can spend the night in one of the themed suites and get to use the outdoor spa and sauna or try a delicious cocktail served in a glass made of ice. The Hôtel de Glace is perfect for a wintry romantic retreat. Quebec is also home to the world's biggest winter carnival, the Quebec Winter Carnival.

The country's capital, Ottawa puts on Winterlude, a winter festival that takes place over three weekends every February. A major highlight is skating the Rideau Canal, a 7.8 km (just under 5 miles) waterway that becomes the world's largest skating rink in freezing conditions.

If you want a winter vacation without the skiing activities, we have put together a list of destinations that are full of adventure for the non-skier.

1. Whistler, British Columbia: So much more than skiing
Yes, the ski capital of Canada is quickly becoming the go-to-spot for non-skiers as well. Many of the resorts offer non-ski activities that run the gamut. They include everything from dog sledding, ice climbing, ice-skating and snow cat tours, to snowmobiling, snowshoeing, sleigh rides, winter fishing and bald eagle viewing. There’s also the thrill of zip lining (up to 100 kilometres per hour) 600 feet above the forest floor in the British Columbia's backcountry.

2. La Mauricie National Park, Quebec: Rough it in the bush in an Otentik
An Otentik is a cross between a rustic cabin and a tent, offering outdoorsy adventure with the comforts of home. It's the ideal type of accommodation while visiting La Mauricie National Park. You and your family can enjoy cozy nights, while your daytimes are busy with Nordic walking, winter hiking and snowshoeing adventures along Riviere a la Peche.

3. Peterborough and the Kawarthas, Ontario: The winter wonderland
The Kawarthas, just east of Toronto, comes alive with the arrival of cold weather. Ice-fishing, snow-shoeing, polar plunges, skating on canals, winter hiking and pond hockey are popular and accessible activities for everyone in the family.

4. Lake Louise, Alberta: Enjoy a cold cocktail and a breathtaking scene
Lake Louise needs no introduction for folks seeking winter sports. For the non-skiers, there's ice-fishing, snowshoeing, skating, dogsledding, horseback riding and so much more.

5. Montreal, Quebec: Fill up on the food, and frolic in the snow
This French-Canadian city has plenty of outdoorsy daytime pursuits within city limits, such as ice-skating on Parc La Fontaine or on top of Mont Royal, where you can also toboggan, join a snowman-building competition, and cross-country ski. Old Montreal is a standard restaurant area, but consider timing your winter visit to coincide with Montreal en Lumiere, a culinary festival that runs through February and March.

6. Winnipeg, Manitoba: Celebrate the ice
At the heart of downtown Winnipeg, the Assiniboine and Red Rivers, when frozen over, form one long skating rink called the Red River Mutual Trail. In fact, the ice path holds the Guinness World Record for the longest naturally frozen skating trail, stretching for almost six kilometres. One is apt to see ice-skaters, hockey players, broomball games, as well as impromptu curling competitions.

And when you've had enough of the cold, bundle the kids into the car and head to Kingswood’s Family Entertainment Centre in Fredericton. It's a 7,432 square-metre facility offering 30-candle-pin bowling, laser tag, a seven-metre high playclimber and more energy-burning diversions.

Apart from all these winter activities, the real allure to Canada lies in witnessing the spectacular Northern Lights, a natural phenomenon that has to be experienced at least once in your life. Created by solar winds interacting with charged particles in the Earth's magnetic field, the lights appear as otherworldly streaks of green, red, yellow, and purple dancing across arctic skies. Areas around pristine Lake Superior in Ontario and Northern Canada's tundra back-country are prime viewing spots. Head to the town of Whitehorse within the Yukon Territory to best see the swirling lights. Sometimes, the glowing sky can be seen as far south as the American border, but stick to Canada's vast wilderness for your front row seats.

With so much to see & do, Canada is definitely a winter wonderland. So get planning your Canadian Icecapade this winter.

Team Veena world