Winter Adventures – Snow Tubing

Blog Winter Adventures Snow Tubing

You could win a Family 4 Pack for Snow Tubing at Calgary’s Acura Snow Tube Park courtesy of WinSport. Enter here

Snow Tubing is a fabulous outdoor winter activity that has taken many ski resorts by storm! This exhilarating concept of cruising down the snow covered hill on an inner tube is not only fun but a great family activity.

A secondary activity to the toboggan, snow tubing originated sometime back in the 1800’s. The concept of cruising down the hill in a tube slowly gained popularity over the years and really took off in the 1990’s when many ski hills decided to offer an alternate outdoor activity for the increased non skiers that were coming to the hill.

snow tubingAnd let me tell you snow tubing is an absolute rush! We had the pleasure of trying snow tubing for the first time at Winsport’s Acura Tube Park here in Calgary. Boasting 9 lanes and Western Canada’s largest tube park, it is quite different than hopping on the toboggan and zooming down the hill. First off, it is safer as the tube park is set up with lanes, so when you go down the hill you have your own wide space to zip through. Plus it is staff supervised and they moderate when people go, making sure the lane is clear before the next person zooms down.

Second, you can save those legs going up and down the hill with your tube each time because you ride the magic carpet to the top. This allows you to stop and enjoy the ride up as well.

snow tubingThird, the lanes are groomed and maintained. So though you may experience some dips and curves they are none of the bumps or bare spots that you might run into on the traditional toboggan hill. Easier on the tailbone and the rest of the body!

The kids were super excited to give it a try. Children have to be at least 42″ to ride by themselves but children 36″ or more can go if they ride with an adult. Chloe was a little trepidatious but totally wanted to go by herself regardless. Luke, as he does, just watched everyone else go first, getting the lay of the land, seeing what to expect, and was quite confident to go on his own once it was his turn.

snow tubingWhen it’s your turn the staff actually give you a push and launch you down the lane. Either giving you a spin or sending you straight – which they ask you what you’d prefer before they do. Being a little cautious myself I asked for straight the first time I went, but honestly you want to spin! (Just remember to wait a minute or so when you get to the bottom cause you might be a little dizzy). It is so much more fun. Spinning and zooming safely down the hill really is exhilarating. I screamed every time and loved it!

You can also go down in groups of up to 4, where each person is in their own tube but you are all holding onto another tube in your group. This can also be lots of fun and another way to share the experience.

snow tubingPasses for the park are quite reasonable, starting at 18.99 for youth and can be purchased in 2, 3 or 4 hour rides. You also have the ability to reload your cards at a reduced rate for future rides!

The only downside is even though the park has 9 lanes it can get quite busy at the top and hard to determine which line for which lane you are in. Since they are newly opened, they are still working out some of the kinks in the running of the park so that it is smooth and efficient. But they are doing a great job! the staff are so fun and friendly and most people are pretty understanding about being patient and waiting their turn.

Snow tubing is a fabulous alternative to tobogganing and I feel a bit safer as it’s more controlled (you also don’t need to bring any equipment). And with the new bylaws here in Calgary only allowing toboganning on 22 designated hills it provides another great option for kids and families. I also love that it’s local! There are other snow tube parks in the mountains outside of Calgary like Norquay, Nakiska and Lake Louise but if you don’t want the addition of the longer drive then this is perfect! So zip down to WinSport and check it out before the season ends.

Want to experience Snow Tubing at the Acura Snow Tube Park for yourself? Enter here to win a Family 4 Pack courtesy of WinSport. Contest closes March 5.

Light Up the Night – Magical Musical Christmas Light Displays

IMG_2549Lights sparkle and shine as they dance with the music. Delight in the twins eyes as they wait in anticipation, the music building, wondering what will come. Then, in a crescendo of light and music together the spectacle really begins. Movement and rhythm, flowing and moving as their eyes follow the dance. This wonderful light display one of many that light up Calgary this holiday season.

I’ve always enjoyed those videos on youTube with the houses all decorated for Christmas and the musical accompaniment that goes in time with the light display. I always thought how cool that would be to see some of those live instead of just online. Little did I know that in Calgary there are a number of houses that do have such a light display. When my friend told me this a couple of years ago I was quite excited! So one night we went out and did a tour. It was wonderful! We enjoyed the light display from the comfort of our car, tuning into the posted radio station, which plays the music in time with the lights.

People are quite creative, incorporating all kinds of things with usually about 4 or 5 different songs before the show repeats. This year I took the kids out to see the lights for the first time. We made an evening of it, bringing hot chocolate and snacks to enjoy while we watched the lights. Luke and Chloe loved it! Dancing and moving it in the van while watching in wonder. We stayed at each house until the full set had run and then moved on to the next one.

IMG_2544The neat thing is that there are tons of them in Calgary and you can view as many or as few as you like. The site Lighten Up Calgary lists and maps out the houses that have such displays and you simply go to the site and create your route. We visited 3 houses when we went out last week but that was just the right amount for Luke and Chloe. And I thought it was great that they knew their limit and knew when it was time to go home. I would’ve have gone to one more, but they had seen, enjoyed and were ‘full’.

They fell asleep on our way home, tummies full of hot chocolate, and dreaming of dancing lights. Next year I’m sure we’ll go out again, as it’s another great free family activity to enjoy over the holidays. Most of them play every night in December and up until New Year’s. Who knows maybe one year we’ll even create our own display and be on the route – apparently it’s as simple as buying a kit. How fun will that be!

Banff’s Santa Claus Parade

IMG_6729The main street is lined with people, children and adults alike. Lights all aglow, shops closed and waiting in anticipation for what’s to come. Snow glitters on the sidewalks and the majestic mountains surround us. It’s beautiful.

Excitement is in the air as children peek out from the crowd to look down the street to see if it’s begun. To see if Santa and his parade are coming. Waiting patiently, yet continually asking Mom and Dad if it’s time yet. This is Banff’s annual Santa Claus parade, held at night with the beauty and magic of Christmas lights all around.

IMG_6700We attended this beautiful event for the first time this year, and it is well worth the trip out to Banff. Currently run by Banff Lake Louise Tourism for the past 7 years, this event has been hosted by the Town of Banff for many years prior. The parade itself is actually the finale of a day filled with kid friendly and family activities such as face painting, balloon twisting, Christmas carols and a visit and photo with Santa down at the train station. There’s also horse drawn wagon rides, tasty treats and of if you’re up for it, a nice soak in the hot springs (which is available every day of the year but is always lovely).

I love touring Banff Avenue and spending time in the Christmas Shoppe. My youngest two, screaming in delight at the grand display of Christmas houses and towns. The ornaments are many, the options are delightful and there is no shortage of Christmas anywhere.

IMG_6723The parade itself is only half an hour long, which I feel is the perfect length for children, who remain engaged and excited the whole time. The floats were gorgeous, creative and unique all lit up as they moved down the street. From the Girl Guides to Sunshine Village there was an excellent representation of the town.

Of course I loved that it was at night. It just added to the atmosphere and excitement with all the floats magically lit up. Even my oldest son, who is 12 and I was unsure if he would like it, expressed that he did enjoy it and said it was “cool”, which meant we had success.

IMG_6677I think Santa Claus parades are such a fabulous idea and up until recently only knew of the big ones in Toronto and New York. I didn’t realize that many of the local towns in and around Calgary host their own Santa Claus Parades and they are quite well done! Parades are held in High River, Okotoks, Airdrie, and Cochrane (which if you still want to attend a Santa Claus Parade this season is this Saturday, December 12th). I think it’s a great way to celebrate the season and your community. And everyone has that little flare and does things a little differently, distinguishing themselves from the rest.

You can go to any of the town’s websites for details and pick the ones you want, or even do a tour! of Santa Parades – how fun would that be? We are already planning for Banff again next year, hoping to take full advantage of the day and all the activities they have to offer. We might even take the plunge and stay overnight!

IMG_6696It creates such great memories an event that I hope every family has the opportunity to enjoy.

Have you attended a Santa Claus parade this year? Share with us your memories and experience.

The Lions Festival of Lights – A Free Calgary Light Display

This weekend I attended the kickoff of the Lions Festival of Lights, a free drive by light display housed at Confederation Golf Course, and has been on in Calgary for 29 years.

IMG_6657Located along 14 St. NW, just south of 24 Ave., this light display has over 115,000 lights and is Calgary’s largest drive by display. Set up by over 3000 volunteer hours, this year the display is completely green with all LED lights.

Each year they kick off the event with family activities, concert and treats and this year was no exception. They were ice sculptures, Singing Santa and Mrs. Clause (who really got the crowd rocking) as well as free hot chocolate and cookies. I was having a great time enjoying the tunes and bee bopping with the crowd (Santa really was good and quite creative in his singing).

IMG_1355At 6 pm, the mayor of Calgary, Naheed Nenshi, threw the switch to officially open and light up the park for the 2015 season. And to top it off a beautiful display of fireworks lit up the sky for everyone to enjoy. People were then invited to stay and enjoy the lights and the park.

In my 17 years in Calgary, this was the first time I had ever gone to see this lights display. I had heard of it but never attended. And this was the first time that I was aware that they did any kind of official kickoff – and honestly I was impressed. Not only with the event itself but the reasons why the display existed.

IMG_6650The Lions Club does this display every year as a way of thanking Calgarians for all their support and generosity throughout the year. The Confederation Golf Course supports the display as part of their mandate is to provide other activities than golf for Calgarians, which is why they not only open up their grounds for the Christmas display but also for cross country skiing and sledding in the winter months. I think this is a fantastic way for everyone to give back to the community and benefit!

IMG_1348 - Version 2Even though this is largely a drive by display, it is just as enjoyable to park and take a walk through the park enjoying the lights in a more intimate way. The display really is quite phenomenal and the best part about it is it’s free! I find there are so many additional costs at this time of year that is it pleasant to be able to enjoy something at no cost.

So pack up the family, friends, significant others, even grab some hot chocolate and take a tour down to Confederation Golf Course and check out the Lions Festival of Lights! They are open nightly from 6 pm to midnight until January 8.

RAK your Brain – Celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Week

How often do you go down the street and someone says hello to you? or holds the door open as you enter or leave a building? How does that random act of kindness make you feel? I bet everyone reading this is thinking how nice that is, or how they really appreciate it. Some of you are even smiling and starting to feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

random acts of kindnessThey may be little things but they are things that can totally make someone’s day. Paying someone a compliment, helping them carry groceries to their car, or shovelling the neighbors walk. Just because, with no expectation of anything in return.

Random Acts of Kindness are one of the easiest ways to make someone’s day and you’re own. You feel good doing it and people feel good receiving it. I remember one day recently I was having a tough day with the kids and I ran into my neighbor at the Y. We chatted for a few minutes but the conversation ended with him praising me as a mother. Telling me how he admired what I did and how tough I was. It was exactly what I needed to hear and it did make my day. Lifted me up and helped me to get through the rest of the day on a happier and lighter note.

RAK’s (random acts of kindness) are a wonderful and easy way to create more love, peace and happiness in our world. Many of us do these things every day and it usually ripples out into other people’s lives and makes our world a better place.

This week February 12-18 is Random Acts of Kindness week, where people are challenged to amp it up. Increase the number of RAKs that you do, to make a conscious effort to do a little more.random acts of kindness

I think this is a fabulous idea and so easy to do! In fact I have been doing this with my kids and my youth leadership group this week. There is an entire website devoted to this that has ideas, lesson plans, and places to share your stories with others.

Some of the ideas they have are:

  1. Saying Good Morning to a stranger
  2. Buying the person in line behind you their coffee
  3. Thank the bus or taxi driver
  4. Lend someone a pen/ pencil
  5. Offer your seat on the bus/ plane

And many more… I think sometimes we underestimate how far an act of kindness can go and what it really does for people. So get out there this week and amp it up, get the kids involved as it is important to teach our younger generations about kindness and love towards others. Go out of your way to do that extra act of kindness and make someone’s day, as well as your own!random acts of kindness

Share your random acts of kindness below in the comments. Let’s see what kind of wave we can create and get ideas from others. Moving towards a happier community and caring world.