Winter Activities & Festivals

As fireplaces roar with flames and frost crystallizes on windows some of us are content to stay indoors. Then there are others that can’t wait to wrap up and run outside and breathe the wild crisp air. Despite the sometimes dramatic weather conditions, there is a plethora of indoor and outdoor winter activities on Vancouver Island North. From thrilling winter sports to more gentle endeavours, let us help you fall in love with winter. In no particular order here are just of the some activities to choose from.

Steven Fines photo

There is something surreal about wandering forest trails or strolling beaches in the winter. Solitude and stunning views. Space to roam. Feel the call of pristine wilderness while: fishing, hiking, beach combing, winter storm watching or for the hardiest among us cold water surfing at Raft Cove. Feel the sheer adrenaline rush of skiing or snowboarding at Mount Cain Resort, the epitome of a dazzling winter wonderland. One of our true gems, Mount Cain is renowned for perfect powdered snow and a welcoming community spirit. Weather permitting, opening day is scheduled for December 9th or 10th. Check back with us in a few months for a more in-depth look at skiing and snowshoeing.

Visit one of the local museums chronicling the fascinating culture and history from First Nations to logging, fishing and mining. This time of year there are public skating sessions at the arenas in Port McNeill, Port Hardy & Port Alice. Join a local crowd and cheer on men’s women’s and youth hockey teams as they take to the ice at one of many tournaments. Swim a few laps in the indoor pool at the recreation centre in Port Hardy, drop into a yoga class or watch a movie on the big screen at Gate House Theatre in Port McNeill. And for the next few months all Vancouver Island North communities will be showcasing their artistic talents at winter & Christmas festivals. This is not a comprehensive list of all activities but a brief snapshot. Check with each communities website and calendar for holiday concerts, plays and events.

Alert Bay
Find unique one-of-a-kind items created by local artists and artisans as Alert Bay dives into holiday mode at the Christmas Bazaar Saturday December 2 from 4-8pm at Lawrence Ambers Memorial Recreation Centre.

Port Alice
Christmas Creations Craft Fair is this small but spirited community’s kick off to the holidays. Sunday November 19th at the Community Centre. Admission is free with balloons for the littles. December events include a waffle breakfast and pictures with Santa.

Port Hardy
Sunday December 3rd Santa has his own parade that starts at Thunderbird Mall and winds through town ending at Carrot Park. Warm your hands with a free hot chocolate, to go with cookies and goodies while admiring the decorated downtown.

Port McNeill
Make a dent in your Christmas shopping or treat yourself to handmade treasures at the Christmas Arts & Crafts Showcase Saturday November 26th from 11am-4pm. More than 50 vendors will be showcasing original art, jewelry, soaps & candles, clothing, baked goods and more at The Old School and Community Hall. And don’t ever let anyone tell you you’re too old to have your picture taken with Santa who will be at the Scout Hall Noon from Noon to 3pm.

Celebrating their 48th Annual Winter Fair everyone is invited to browse the craft tables, Saturday November 25th from 4-7pm at the Heritage Hall. Stay for a snack or lunch as several food vendors will be serving up sweet and savoury treats.

This year mark’s Sointula’s 41st Winterfest. The three day festival held November 17-19 is an eclectic mix of art, food, crafts, workshops, comedy and music. Dare we say just another one of our festivals that gets better with age.
At the end of each high octane day of activity there is always a warm pub or restaurant serving warms drinks and food and plenty of options for cozy accommodations.
Whatever you choose to do, make sure to dress for the elements and enjoy !! Discover the inventive ways we’ve found to spend shorter days and make the most of the chilly season. Come embrace winter with us on Vancouver Island North !!

Karen Stewart – Freelance Writer
Karen is the author of a blog titled This is Port McNeill

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