There are few experiences more classically Canadian than outdoor ice skating. Watching your breath fog in the crisp winter air while gliding across a pond or backyard rink with friends or family is just one of those things that everyone should do in their lifetime. And this winter in Whistler everyone can, for free, when Skating at the Plaza returns to the Whistler Olympic Plaza on December 20, 2012.
“We’re thrilled to see Skating at the Plaza become an annual activity,” says Whistler Mayor (and pretty hot skater) Nancy Wilhelm-Morden. “The permanent rink is a great addition and really adds to the Whistler Olympic Plaza, which is a much-loved public space.”
Whistler has been talking about a free ice rink forever but after the success of last year’s trial rink (rough estimates are about 20,000 users over the winter) the foundation has been laid for skating to become a permanent winter activity for guests and locals alike. And this time around there’s more ice to play on, with 11,300 square feet of ice spread over two mini rinks.
After the official opening on December 20, the free ice rink is open to everyone from 11 AM – 4 PM and from 6 PM to 9 PM. Skating is free and skate rentals are available for $5. Lace ‘em up kids, winter is here. (Anyone not into skating might enjoy the “snow mound” built near the rink that offers plenty of opportunity for climbing, sliding, jumping and just being a kid.)
Of course, younger children can only hang out in the cold and snow for so long and more than a few well-intentioned family outings have been sandbagged by cold hands and frozen feet. Luckily, the Whistler Holiday Experience also kicks off on December 21 offering an indoor family fun zone that includes multiple bouncy castles, mini golf, games, balls, video games, crafts and more. And it’s all totally free.
Spanning three large rooms of the Whistler Conference Centre, the Whistler Holiday Experience can be a real day-saver. Even the crankiest kid can’t help but be overjoyed and there’s plenty of seating for parents to rest up while the little ones burn off some of that youthful energy. The Holiday Experience is open daily from 10 AM – 6 PM and Santa will be in the building December 22 from 12:30 PM – 4 PM and again on December 23 from Noon to 4 PM. (Note: the Holiday Experience is not open on Dec 25 or 31 and the last day to enjoy it is January 6, 2013.)
With the snow and twinkling lights Whistler really is a winter wonderland and these free family activities like skating and the Holiday Experience can only make the good times better. Just make sure to remove your ice skates before you jump into the bouncy castle.
Here’s a video of some kids enjoying Skating at the Plaza last winter.