The Best Places for Calgary Public Skating

Canadian winters bring loads of opportunities for sledding skiing and snowshoeing. In Calgary, public skating is also a fantastic way to beat the winter blahs. Whether you’re making laps indoors or getting rosy cheeks on a community rink, skating is a lovely way to embrace the season and socialize with others, with the added bonus of getting some exercise in.

ice skating in Calgary
Could there be a more romantic outdoor activity? I don’t think so…. (Credit: Travel Alberta/ Roth and Ramberg)

Calgary Public Skating

In Calgary, public skating options are plentiful and you really can’t go wrong with whatever rink you choose. Nearly every city-owned indoor arena has an option for public skating. Calgary even has several wild skating options so you don’t have to drive all the way to Banff to skate

Admission costs are affordable, making it a worthwhile family activity, date night destination or solo workout. Skate times, costs and rental information for every arena is available on the City of Calgary website, but we’ve listed some of the best options below.

Calgary Public Skating
Calgary’s Olympic Plaza is a must visit destination for skaters. (Credit: Travel Alberta/ Roth and Ramberg)
Note: All indoor facilities are currently closed due to COVID-19.

Southland Leisure Centre 

Southland Leisure Centre is a large rec facility in SW Calgary. Within the leisure centre, you can access the wave pool, diving pool, gymnasium, gymnastics area and of course, the skating rinks.

This is a City of Calgary arena, so their prices and schedule are easy to find on the city website Hockey isn’t allowed during public skating times and helmets are strongly recommended. The facility also has vending machines, skate rental and pro shop and a hot concession, located near the swimming pool. If you plan to skate more than once in the year, check out the 10x punch card to get a discount.

Village Square Arena 

Another City of Calgary run leisure centre, Village Square is a large rec centre located in the NE. There are two hockey rinks at Village Square for public skating, as well as cold vending machines, a Coco Brooks Express Café, pool, gym and childcare. Prices are the same as other city rinks, but unlike Southland Leisure Centre, there’s no pro shop or skate rental area. 

Westside Rec Centre 

Westside Rec Centre just might be the coolest place in the city for indoor skating. Unlike most of the indoor public skating arenas that host public skating on their hockey ice, Westside has its own leisure skating area. The main leisure skating rink has lots of room to skate, a fire pit and a cool hill-like area that looks like a waterfall.

For the less experienced, there’s a flat, pond-like area away from the main skating zone. Westside has a set price for admission, but once you are in, you can use any of the facilities inside. This rec centre doesn’t rent skates and requires a CSA-certified winter sports helmet for all ice skaters.

Rocky Ridge YMCA

When Shane Homes built the Rocky Ridge YMCA, they included both a leisure skating rink and an NHL rink. This means that you don’t have to wait for hockey games to finish in order to enjoy a twirl on the ice.

Public skating is free with a YMCA membership and once you pay to get in, you can access many of the other amenities in the facility. You must show photo ID, so be sure to bring that along. Rocky Ridge YMCA is located at 11300 Rocky Ridge Rd NW.

Olympic Oval Public Skating 

Known as the fastest ice in the world, the Olympic Oval is one of Canada’s premier training facility for speed skaters. We civilians can also skate on this amazing ice during the Olympic Oval public skating hours. The facility offers more than 50 public skating sessions per month on this 400-metre, oval-shaped ice.

The oval goes around two regulation sized hockey arenas, so you might get to take in a game or two while you skate. Rentals are available on-site for both helmets (which are mandatory) and skates. The rink also has skating aids for beginners.

Everyone skates in the same direction and hockey sticks aren’t allowed. Best is, you can rent speed skates to experience first hand how this ice was designed to be used.

speed skating olympic oval
International speed skating competitions are still held at the Olympic Oval. (Credit: Dave Holland/Canadian Sport Institute Calgary)

Winsport Public Skating 

The rinks at Winsport are extra-special as they’re home to Team Canada! Heading to Winsport for public skating allows you to enjoy some top notch ice and perhaps even skate alongside an Olympian.

Located at Canada Olympic Park, public skating takes place at the Markin MacPhail Centre. No hockey is allowed during public skating and helmets are mandatory. Beverages and food are also not allowed on the ice.

Public skating prices tend to be a bit higher here then at leisure centres, as Winsport is a private facility.

Calgary Outdoor Skating Rinks 

Outdoor ice surfaces are only increasing in popularity due to COVID-19 restrictions. If you’re looking for an easy fun way to get a double whammy of fresh air and exercise, you only need to head to one of our recommended Calgary outdoor skating rinks.

Note: With COVID-19 restrictions, each rink has a limit of skaters at a time. Be sure to follow the rules and wait your turn to keep everyone safe.

best outdoor rinks Calgary
Skating solo shouldn’t be overlooked, either! (Credit: Travel Alberta/Cooper and O’Hara)

Olympic Plaza 

A Calgary tradition, skating at Olympic Plaza is something everyone should try. The rink was built in 1988 when Calgary hosted the Olympics and is the only outdoor refrigerated ice surface in the city. Skaters can enjoy free, outdoor skating right in the heart of downtown.

Rentals are provided by Skate Hut and public washrooms are available. There’s no hockey allowed on the ice, so you won’t have to dodge any rogue pucks. Olympic Plaza is perfect for date night, family time or even some alone time.

Olympic Plaza ice skating
Skating at Olympic Plaza at night is enhanced by dramatic light. (Credit: Tourism Calgary)

Bowness Park Lagoon 

Bowness Park Lagoon is one of the best-known skating spots in the city. This year, the city decided to give the park another boost by creating a new ice trail! The lagoon is a beautiful place to skate and is so large it can accommodate 600 skaters.

The new ice trail is 1.6 km long and is anchored alongside the Bow River. Skate rentals are available on-site. As per usual, no hockey nets or sticks are allowed and helmets and masks are encouraged. Bowness Park has been quite busy lately and there’s limited parking, so be sure to get there early.

calgary outdoor skating rinks
The fires! The lights! It’s a wonderful winter experience at Bowness Park come dusk. (Credit: Travel Alberta/ Roth and Ramberg)

Barb Scott Park

Newly opened in 2021, this outdoor rink situated at 12 Ave and 9 St SW is but a three block walk away from the ice at Thompson Family Park. If one rink appears too busy, simply walk a few blocks for another option.

While the location is trendy (there’s a public art light installation here, too) it’s not the largest of ice surfaces. It used to be challenging to put on your skates, but the City finally added thick rubber mats so you can get from the benches to the rink without having to walk on concrete. We’re pretty happy the City of Calgary opened up a new surface and hopefully they’ll add a few more each year.

beltline skating rink
This new skating surface at Barb Scott Park is pretty and popular at night.

Thomson Family Park 

Located in Calgary’s Beltline just off 17 Ave, SW, Thomson Family Park has a lovely little great skating rink right next door to a playground. The space is open from 5 am to 11 pm each day, and at night twinkling outdoor lights get turned on, plus there’s usually a fire going. You’ll find plenty of seating and a few tables, so it’s possible to have an outdoor picnic here. No public restrooms, though.

North Glenmore Park 

Another new ice-skating trail is located at North Glenmore Park. Here, you can skate over 730 meters of connected track and visit the attached skating rink in the center.

The trail is open from 11 am – 10 pm daily, but is only open to 82 skaters at a time. Be sure to go early or be prepared to wait. On the weekend, the Skate Hut is open for skate and helmet rentals, so you don’t even have to own skates to enjoy this beautiful area.

Hockey sticks and nets aren’t allowed, but skating tools are allowed for those who need them. As it’s located in North Glenmore Park, the area has benches, picnic sites and portable washrooms.

* Remember, only skate on marked areas. Other areas may not be frozen and can be dangerous to skate on.

Outdoor Community Rinks in Calgary 

Some neighbourhood community associations offer an outdoor ice skating surface residents can use for free. Some community rinks only have pleasure skating rinks and some have a second rink for hockey with boards and nets. These rinks are usually looked after by people in the community, so make sure to thank your community members and respect the space.

Some of the nicer ones in the city include:

  • Hamptons Community Association has a ‘zambonied’ hockey rink and pleasure skating rink
  • Haley’s Rink in Silver Springs has four ice surfaces.
  • Valley Ridge sports heated change rooms.
  • Canyon Meadows offers two rinks with boards, a pond style rink, a toboggan hill and is lit at night.
  • Shaganappi Outdoor Rink features a skating loop, hockey rink, practice area and fire pit.
  • Wildwood Community Association has an ice trail, heated change room, hockey rink, pleasure skating rink and an outdoor fire pit.

Carburn Park 

Carburn Park is a large, natural area park located along the Bow River. Stunning in both the summer and winter, the park has a lagoon that freezes over for skating. You can find the large lagoon in the SE quadrant of the park and it has room for 155 skaters. The rink is open from 11 AM to 10 PM every day and washrooms are available on site.

Big Marlborough Park 

Located in the Marlborough community, Big Marlborough Park is a large family gathering spot. The park has a good sized rink located next to the west parking lot. The rink has a limit of 53 skaters, which seems to be an average limit at local parks during COVID restrictions. No hockey sticks, nets or sleds are allowed on the rink and as always, helmets and masks are encouraged.

Prairie-Winds Park 

Prairie-Winds Park is a destination park located so close to the airport that you can’t even fly kites there! During the winter, it sports an ice rink for free public skating.

There’s a limit of 26 skaters at a time, so be prepared to wait your turn for a few minutes. The rink is open from 5 am to 11 pm every day, which gives you plenty of time to get your skate on. Like at other city rinks, no hockey nets or sticks are allowed, and neither are toboggans. Face coverings and helmets are strongly encouraged.

Bowness Park Lagoon ice skating Calgary
One of the advantages of Bowness Park is the number of benches to put your skates on. (Credit: Travel Alberta/ Roth and Ramberg)

Skate Rentals Calgary

Don’t own a pair of skates? There’s plenty of spots where you can score skate rentals in Calgary for the day – or longer if you like. Some of the rinks mentioned above have skate rental options, so check before you go. Most rentals have both hockey skate and figure skate options, so you can wear whatever feels comfortable. Below at some popular spots to get rentals.

Rapid Rent

Located in the SW, Rapid Rent is a great destination for any kind of winter rental, including ice skates. Rapid Rent has great hours and are open 7 days a week. It can be a busy place, so call ahead or go in early.

Sports Rent

Another popular winter rental destination in the city, Sports Rent is located on 16th Ave NW. They carry all sizes of skates, plus helmets and hockey sticks.

For kids looking to try out hockey for the first time, Sports Rent also offers goalie and forward sets for rent, including all the equipment necessary for the sport. Sports Rent is open from 6 am to 9 pm every day.

U of C Outdoor Centre

At the U of C Outdoor Centre, you can rent hockey skates and use them anywhere in the city. However, they also offer a skate shop location at Bowness Park to provide rentals for the lagoon and ice trail. That skate shop is located near the Season of Bowness restaurant by the lagoon.

Skates can be rented for a maximum of 2 hours and are only usable in Bowness Park. Helmets are free, so there’s no reason not to protect your head. You must be 18 years and older to rent skates here.

Skate Hut at Olympic Plaza and North Glenmore Park

The Skate Hut at Olympic Plaza has expanded to include the North Glenmore Park ice trail. You can rent children’s skates, adult figure and hockey skates, skating aids and helmets at both locations.

Be sure to note the time and day you’re planning to go because it’s NOT open 7 days a week. Visit the Olympic Plaza Skate Hut from Wednesday to Sunday and the North Glenmore Park skate hut on weekends. And it’s cash only.

Skate Shop (Olympic Oval)

Located at the Olympic Oval, you can rent both hockey skates and speed skates at this Skate Shop. It’s an ID rental service, so make sure to bring your ID to leave behind the desk until you return.

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Skating Calgary

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