Turning cold weather into hot times is one of our fortes here in Winnipeg.

And we’ll let you in on a little secret – it’s not exactly alchemy, although you could say that we always manage to make gold out of all that snow and ice.

Red River Mutual Trail Skating at The Forks

Let’s start with The Red River Mutual Trail at The Forks, which surely Freddie Mercury would have called “a kind of magic.”

The former Guinness World Record-holder for longest naturally frozen skating trail in the world (hey Lake Windermere Whiteway, just because you are the new champ in this category it doesn’t mean we won’t drop the gloves… along with our friendly Manitoba slogan), The Red River Mutual Trail surely would take gold for most-original with its 5 kms of icy glory.

On no other rink in the world are you going to find intermittent rest stops designed by some of the world’s foremost architects and designers. Many of The Forks’ stylish Warming Huts are the result of an annual international design contest, meaning we have structures representing firms from Norway, Nebraska, Russia, Argentina and Israel, while international luminaries like Frank Gehry, Anish Kapoor and Tanya Tagaq have also had Warming Huts out on the trail.

On top of that they have several kilometres of on-land trails – you can even skate across the Historic Rail Bridge while people skate underneath it on the Assiniboine River (so many layers!). The grandest of all shinny rinks lies on the other side of The Forks surrounded by the amphitheatre stage and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

And that’s just a sampling of what you’ll find at The Forks this winter, so click here for more details.

We tell you, there are few sounds more enjoyable than the crunch of snow underfoot while traversing in snowshoes, or the light rustle of a gentle winter breeze through barren trees. Couple that with a few white tail deer sightings, some snorts and jostling from the world’s largest urban bison herd along with stellar bird watching, and you have yourself one dandy of a day at FortWhyte Alive.

This nature lover’s dream is located right inside the city and among its 640 acres you can also go ice fishing and skating on several lakes, tobogganing, cross-country skiing and so much more. Heck, you can even do an outdoor yoga class where you can turn your final savasana into a snow angel.

FortWhyte Alive really has it all too. After spending your time outdoors you can warm up in the Interpretive Centre and enjoy a meal at the Buffalo Stone Café (where many items come right from FortWhyte’s farm), while rentals, guides and interpreters are all available onsite.

Winnipeg is also home to one of the world’s finest winter festivals. Festival du Voyageur, which takes place this year from February 15 to 24, and celebrates Winnipeg’s storied fur trading, Francophone and Métis history with all manner of music, fashion, jigging, beard growing, and above all, eating maple taffy, tourtiére, poutine and sugar pie. (And on that culinary note, be sure to check out our culinary guide PegCityGrub.com to find out more about Winnipeg’s fabulous food scene).

During FDV, you’ll encounter massive snow sculptures carved by international artists, party tents serving up delectable French fare while live bands play all day and night, and costumed interpreters – like the trapper, blacksmith, and cooper (who is a barrel full of laughs) – telling tales about life during the 1800s when you visit their little abodes inside Fort Gibraltar.

Word to the wise: if you are looking to fit in at FDV order yourself some Caribou in an ice glass, get yourself a ceinture fleche, and finish most sentences with an exuberant shout of “Hé Ho!” You’ll do just fine.

Nothing is going to exemplify how to do winter right quite like a polar bear. So on that note, you must head to Assiniboine Park Zoo to experience all the award-wining glory that is the Journey to Churchill (JTC) – the world’s most comprehensive Arctic exhibit.

For starters, we’ve seen grown men shed tears of joy (okay, it may have been us) after getting nearly nose-to-nose with JTC’s group of rescued bears who swim, frolic, and dive right over your head in the Sea Ice Passage. The underwater ballet these bears perform is simply jaw dropping, and is something that you can watch for hours on end. But the incredible array of Arctic animals does not stop there.

The whole 10-acre exhibit mimics northern Manitoba’s landscape — running from forest to tundra to ice – and houses some amazing species like muskoxen (whose new baby is cuter than an otter eating off its own belly), movie star wolves (they shared the screen with Liam Neeson in The Grey), seals, Arctic fox, snowy owls, caribou, and more.

Now please consider this as just a snippet of all the awesomeness that is a Winnipeg winter. For more on what to see an do in Winnipeg this winter, visit TourismWinnipeg.com.

Written by Mike Green of Tourism Winnipeg.