Formerly known as the Jack Frost Festival, Charlottetown’s Ice City Festival is one of the best ways to embrace a Canadian winter in Prince Edward Island!
I’m a firm believer that visiting Prince Edward Island during the winter should be on anyone’s Canadian bucket list. With proper attire (seriously, this weather is no joke!), there’s no reason why you can’t get out and experience what downtown Charlottetown (and the entire island!) has to offer.
This five week event runs from the late January through to the end of the first week of March (January 27th – March 5, 2023), and there are a variety of events and activities to take part in!
If you love the winter and all of the outdoor activities that come along with it, the Charlottetown Ice City Festival is for you and is a top reason to visit PEI during the winter.
Downtown Charlottetown is decked out with art installations, wintery decor, and a number of outdoor activities. Ready to take part in some winter fun in Charlottetown? Let’s check out some of the best ways to experience the Ice City Festival!
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Things to do during the Ice City Festival
1. Go skating at Founders’ Hall
The skating rink at Founders’ Hall is not only huge, but it’s also free! This large rink has tons of space for everyone, and is in a great location to grab a hot drink or snack afterwards.
There are a few benches here to sit down and lace up, or for spectators, and is central to two parking lots.
You can even go disco skating under the stars every Saturday from 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm with live music!
2. Take part in Sugar Shack Weekends
Patio season isn’t only for the summer!
Cozy up next to fire pits at the Charlottetown Beer Garden, the Merchantman Next Door, the Old Triangle, or the Pilot House during the Ice City Festival Sugar Shack Weekends!
With amazing photo ops, maple sugar sticks, seasonal and hand-held food for reasonable prices, warm drinks, and entertainment, and more, all you need to do is bundle up and enjoy the atmosphere!
My favourite spot was the Charlottetown Beer Garden. Their adirondack chairs and benches with firepits, heat lamps, blankets, and live music was the perfect spot to get cozy and warm up during a chilly winter evening. Food was priced at $2-$3 (hot dogs and chilli) and adult beverages (hot chocolate and mulled apple cider) were priced at $7.
You can also book an igloo for $65 which includes a two hour booking and charcuterie board.
On every Friday from 5:00 – 9:00 pm and weekends 12:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Entrance is free!
3. Indulge at Winter Dine
One of the best things about Charlottetown’s Ice City Festival is WinterDine! Over the course of three weeks (January 16th – February 5th 2023), you’ll be able to take your pick from any number of incredible participating restaurants in Charlottetown for a 3 course prix-fixe meal for $35 – $55!
There is a new lunch option this year too at restaurants throughout town, ranging from $12-$20!
Menus change every week and it’s an incredible value for money with tantalizing dishes created using local ingredients.
Sim’s Oyster Bar and Steakhouse was incredible with its lobster bisque, 10 oz striploin with garlic mashed potatoes, and apple cranberry crumble!
Vote for your favourite menu online for your chance to win a $75 gift card at participating restaurants. I guarantee you’ll have a hard time picking out a restaurant or two to dine at! This is your chance to dine at a restaurant you’ve always wanted to try.
4. Go on a horse and wagon ride
Enjoy a horse and wagon ride through the historic streets of downtown with Great Northern Adventures and Emerald Isle Carriage Tours on Fridays 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm and every weekend from 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm!
Rides are available walk-up only, $5 per person (cash only) out front Founders’ Food Hall.
5. Do Yoga in the Snow
You’ve heard of hot yoga, but have you ever done yoga in the snow? This free yoga session is located out front of Founder’s Hall and is taught by certified yoga instructors.
Take part in active yoga poses to keep your body warm during these colder temperatures! No mat required. Warm up after your refreshing yoga class with a hot drink from Receiver Coffee Co. after!
6. Go snowshoeing across the city
During the Ice City Festival, you can rent snowshoes for free at City Hall downtown on Queen Street (first come, first served) to take all over the island! There are a number of snowshoe trails in PEI to explore during the winter. Whether it’s your first time snowshoeing or you’re used to the mechanics of it, there are trails ranging from a short loop to upwards of 20 km through provincial parks!
Rentals are available at City Hall between 8:00 am – 4:30 pm. Phone reservations are recommended by calling 902-368-1025. You can also rent snowshoes on Sundays at Victoria Park from 1:00 until 3:00 pm. You can use them for the day as long as they’re back by 3:00 pm the following day!
Looking for an added twist? Go snowshoeing after dark at 6:00 pm on Fridays at Victoria Park (Ball Field Clubhouse) during the Ice City Festival and guide your snowshoe trek by flashlight!
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