There’s something magical about Kelowna in the winter. The air is crisp and pure, and on a clear day, you can see the surrounding snow-dusted mountains reflected on Okanagan Lake’s glassy surface.
There’s something magical about Kelowna in the winter. The air is crisp and pure, and on a clear day, you can see the surrounding snow-dusted mountains reflected on Okanagan Lake’s glassy surface. The city has a reputation as a summer destination, but locals know that Kelowna's mild enjoyable winter climate shines, too.
Not only does the frosty city enchant with its looks, but its mild winter temperatures also encourage visitors to embrace the season. Downtown, you can stroll along the waterfront boardwalk or skate lakeside at the outdoor rink in Stuart Park, then warm up by the fire pit with some hot chocolate. The city’s Cultural District buzzes all season long with new exhibits at museums and galleries, WHL hockey games at Prospera Place, live music and winter markets, and plays and musicals at community theatres. Comfort food abounds, too. Pop into a cozy café for a cappuccino, sip a hearty stout at a craft brewery or dig in to warming, seasonal fare at one of the many restaurants in the core.
Ski or Snowboard
Nothing feels quite like cutting loose from gravity as you zoom down a mountain atop a downy blanket of snow. At higher elevations, the light Okanagan powder really accumulates at nearby Big White Ski Resort and SilverStar Mountain Resort, less than an hour’s drive from town. The feathery flakes settle seductively in open bowls and between perfectly spaced trees in shaded glades, to entice riders of all abilities to come out and play.
Besides the main attraction of downhill skiing and snowboarding, these winter playgrounds offer every snowy pursuit you can imagine, from fat biking to snowmobiling and tube parks, and at Big White try ice climbing on a 60-foot ice tower, ride on a horse-drawn sleigh, or book a dog sledding trip.
Winter in wine country
Winter is a wonderful time for a wine tour in Kelowna. Not only is it less crowded inside tasting rooms, but you also have a better chance of meeting the winemaker. What’s more, the vineyards are absolutely beautiful covered in a light dusting of snow.
One of the best ways to experience Kelowna’s wine scene is to join a wine tour. A knowledgeable driver will take you around to four or five wineries for an afternoon of sampling everything from oaky Chardonnay to robust Zweigelt. Tours run year-round.
Hiking & Snowshoeing
Hiking is a year-round reality in Kelowna thanks to mild winter temperatures in the valley and iconic trails that take in lake views. At higher elevations, rent a pair of snowshoes to navigate paths that stay covered in snow from November to April.
Go to Bear Creek Provincial Park in West Kelowna to see spectacular frozen waterfalls. The Bear Creek Nature Trail is a 2.1-km loop that passes multiple viewpoints over Bear Creek, where the crashing waterfalls of summer morph into frozen torrents of ice in winter.
You can tackle trails in Knox Mountain Park, adjacent to downtown Kelowna, all year. Some flat paths, like the trail to Paul’s Tomb, can be enjoyed in regular hiking boots.
For guaranteed snowshoeing head to one of the nearby areas with dedicated snowshoe trails. Telemark Nordic Club has 60 km of trails that vary in length and ability; the club also rents snowshoes. Bring your own gear to the Kelowna Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Club, where 24 trails marked with orange tape indicate paths for snowshoers.