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7 of the Craziest Things Canadians Do in Winter

Stay inside where it's warm? No way, Canadians celebrate winter in crazy ways.


Best Winter Festivals | Temperatures in Canada | Canada in Winter

Winter brings out the crazy in Canadians. When sub-zero winter temperatures hit, our love of a challenge - or possibly just our sincere love of freezing our tushies off and risking our lives kicks into high gear.

1. Pay to Sleep in a Block of Ice

Photo credit: ©Xdachez.com

OK, the block of ice is an artistic, beautifully detailed hotel, but it's still made of ice and freezing cold.

Every year, when temperatures drop, a newly erected Quebec Ice Hotel invites guests to pay 4 and 5 star hotel rates to forgo the comforts of a regular hotel and sleep on blocks of ice in sub-zero temperatures. If a full night in this arctic accommodation does not appeal, stop by for a drink. It really is something to see.

2. Charge Down a Hill of Ice on Skates

Photo © Quebec Tourism

For those athletes that don't find ice hockey perilous enough, there is the extreme sport of downhill ice cross. The Red Bull Crashed Ice world tour winds up in Quebec City every March to crown its champion. Skaters blister down the steep streets of Old Quebec in groups of four, battling for the lead around hairpin turns and sharp verticals. Tens of thousands of cheering spectators contribute to the mania.

3. Canoe across a River of Ice

A canoe may not be the most likely mode of transportation for crossing an ice-hardened river in mid-winter, but that's what teams of audacious athletes attempt during the Quebec Winter Carnival in Quebec City.

Once a legitimate form of travel across the St. Lawrence River, today ice canoeing is a sport in which several brave athletic souls don wetsuits and negotiate their canoe across an often patchy waterway - alternating between carrying and paddling the canoe. The suspense comes in watching each team decide on the best path in the ever-shifting sub-zero maze.

4. Plunge into Freezing Cold Water

Photo © 2012 Getty Images

Every Janurary 1st, brave Canadians take a numbing dip into lakes and bays across the country as a way to usher in the new year.

Known as a Polar Bear Dip, some communities see up to 1,000 brave swimmers take to wintry waters, usually for the sake of a local charity.

5. Fish

Photo © Lenora Gim / Getty Images

Well, it's true I may think fishing is a bit crazy no matter what the time of year or temperature. However, to drill a hole into a frozen lake and then sit for hours waiting for a fish to bite seems particularly bonkers. No doubt though everything that makes me dislike the idea of ice fishing is alluring to fans of the sport: Man against the elements, autonomy and all that Survivor Man / Moby Dick stuff.

Northern Pike, walleye and yellow perch are just some of the species of fish on the Canadian ice fishing menu.

Be sure to read all all about staying safe when ice fishing and don't go alone.

6. Scale Sheer Ice Cliffs

Ice climbing
Digital Vision/Getty Images

Ice is tough enough to negotiate directly under foot; it's slippery and very hard when you fall on it. But make that ice a vertical and try to scale it. What a great idea! Ice climbing is a winter activity practiced not only in mountainous regions of the country - especially British Columbia and Alberta - but also where waterfalls freeze, such as Tiffany Falls, a popular ice scaling spot in Hamilton, Ontario.

Watch as BBC correspondent Brandy Yanchyk tries ice climbing for the very first time in Jasper, Alberta.

7. Bobsled or Skeleton When You Are Not an Olympic Athlete

Maybe you haven't seen the headlines about bobsledding accidents and crashes. Perhaps screaming down a slide of ice - head first in the case of skeleton - at up 120 km/h (75 mph) is your idea of fun? Well, Whistler is the place for you because ordinary people (crazy people?) can get the bobsled or skeleton experience on the same tracks built and used for the Whistler 2010 Winter Olympics.

Just so the sliding experiences aren't too ridiculously crazy, helmet fittings and full safety instruction from the track crew are included.

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