5 truly Canadian ways to celebrate the New Year

It’s the biggest party of the year, but that doesn’t mean that New Year’s has to be celebrated at a bar with a bunch of strangers. In fact, if you’re looking to ring in 2018 like a true Canadian, you could be more likely to find yourself surrounded by stars, trees or polar bears than overly spirited revellers. (Although those are never in short supply.)

Whether you choose to celebrate in the company of people or nature, here’s hoping 2018 brings renewed hope and positivity, and that you ring it in with a glass (or a mug) of something festive and bubbly.

Go ice fishing

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There’s been a renewed interest in the cold-weather sport in recent years — probably because it’s been upgraded from its origins as a freezing ramshackle hut in the middle of nowhere. Today, ice fishing typically involves a heated hut and some companies even provide equipment. High-end add-ons can include a guide and a cooking session where you get to enjoy the (gourmet) fruits of your labours. The World Fishing Network lists a number of spots in Canada among the best places to go ice fishing.

Strap on some skates

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A truly Canadian pursuit no matter what day of the year, ice skating is equally fun if you’re out with friends or the whole family. If you choose a major rink, like Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square, Bannerman Park in St. John’s or on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, you’ll also get a spectacular fireworks display, as well as live music and maybe even a steaming cup of hot chocolate.

Take in the aurora borealis

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Sure, a fireworks display is pretty spectacular, but nothing compares to nature’s version of one. Instead of huddling with crowds of strangers and straining for a good view of the light show, why not soak in an outdoor hot tub and let the aurora borealis do the entertaining? It’ll make for a New Year’s Eve to remember. Check out Blachford Lake Lodge just outside Yellowknife, Fogo Island Inn in Labrador or Arctic Haven Wilderness Lodge in Nunavut.

Get down to a local band (or DJ)

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If there’s one guarantee on New Year’s Eve, it’s that everyone will be in a great mood — especially when there’s a rockin’ band playing. Whether you’re partying down on St. John’s’ George Street, Halifax’s Grand Parade, Montreal’s Old Port, Calgary’s Olympic Plaza or Vancouver’s Harbour Event Centre, you’re sure to get down and drink up with fellow music aficionados.

Take a polar bear plunge

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A New Year’s Day tradition, a polar bear swim, which involves plunging into freezing waters in the name of charity, is maybe the best way to shake off any remaining 2017 doldrums (or champagne). The event started in Vancouver in the early 1900s, and today takes place across the nation, inviting brave souls to don crazy get-ups and bring their nerves of steel. Proceeds generated from the event are donated to a number of local and national charities.

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