How to Winter #ExploreVernon



Vernon, BC makes it easy to get into winter with downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, apres and festivals.

Learning how to ski, learning how to cross-country ski or learning how to make new connections comes with a lot of questions. Vernon, in BC’s Okanagan Valley, has answers to all of these questions and more.

Riabi Lingao, a first-generation immigrant to Canada who has settled in Vernon, has been exploring winter since she arrived (pictured above, centre). Here, she shares her learnings on “How to Winter” in this very winter connected city.

Here are the three top things Lingao learned on how to make the most of winter in Vernon:

  1. Tour the ski resort with SilverStar's Mountain Hosts.
  2. Take a Nordic ski lesson. 
  3. Head to the Vernon Winter Carnival—Canada's longest running winter festival—for some apres fun!

1. Tour the ski resort with SilverStar Mountain Hosts  

Unlock the ski hill through a local’s eyes. Thirty minutes from downtown Vernon, SilverStar Mountain Resort offers a great learning environment and ease of access for those new to chairlifts or gondolas. The mountain has a team of volunteer guides who will take you for a tour – they are simply there waiting for you in the morning and off you go. It’s free and offered every day!


Riabi and her guy Lem Canlas’s experience with SilverStar’s mountain host Debley, meant a more “fulfilling” day on the slopes and made for the best use of time on the mountain with someone to show them around. 

“As first-generation immigrants,” explains Lingao, a 17-year resident of Vernon, “exploring what SilverStar has to offer year-round gives us exposure to a whole new world of winter and summer culture. Having quick access to the many activities helps with our physical and mental well-being.”

Skiing at SilverStar, Vernon BC Niall Pinder
Photo: Niall Pinder
Riabi Lingao and friends get to know SilverStar's ski terrain with a mountain host.

2. Take Nordic Ski lessons at Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre

That New Year’s resolution to get active this winter just came true and could never be easier. One of the world’s top Nordic/cross country ski venues, Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre is 25 minutes from downtown Vernon and five minutes down the road from SilverStar and offers Nordic (cross country) ski lessons every day.

“Nordic skiing is a new sport to us that we can definitely learn to appreciate,” says Lingao, “especially having some of the best and experienced guides/instructors around. This sport has a short learning curve and lighter gear which means it's faster to hit the trails.”


“Personally, I live and breathe Nordic,” says Sovereign Lake instructor Pat Pearce. “I love winter and I enjoy the aerobic experience that nordic (cross-country) skiing offers. I’ve found a strong community of folks that share those values and I've become part of the fabric. My physical and social well-being are tied to the Nordic experience and I can’t say enough times how much enjoyment I’ve had through cross country skiing.” 

Pearce lives up at SilverStar Mountain Resort, noting how unique it is to share the Nordic Centre’s mountain location with a world class ski hill; the resort offers housing and restaurant facilities so people can holiday up here for a nordic experience.

Cross-country ski lesson at Sovereign Lakes Nordic Centre, Vernon BC
Photo: Niall Pinder
Nordic skiing instructors like Pat Pearce share their expertise and their love of cross-country skiing at Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre.

3. Connect to the community through après fun and festivals

And for the final how-to-lesson, how to après in downtown Vernon – and perhaps volunteer for one of Canada’s biggest winter carnivals! Vernon got the winter party started in 1893, and (as Vancouver blogger Miss 604 recently uncovered) it has a wealth of community connections and some wild fun awaiting you.

Window shop under the influence of a few Bonnie Henry lagers from Marten Brewing (paired with stellar fish tacos) and take in a winter carnival that is now in its 63nd straight year. Five hundred people will volunteer in 2023 for Vernon’s Winter Carnival. As Winquest suggests, if you ever wanted to unlock the glory of a community, volunteer for one of its festivals or events, especially if it celebrates winter in the way this one does. 

Downtown Vernon BC
Photo: Niall Pinder
Downtown Vernon is full of après-ski options.

When You Go

To help plan your trip, visit Tourism Vernon’s website for accommodation specialsplaces to eat and even more winter fun.

Calgary to Vernon can be done in a day's drive that will take you through spectacular scenery. Drive right through the Canadian Rockies to Vernon and enjoy views of the Okanagan Valley on the way up to SilverStar Mountain Resort.

Share your experience, use the #ExploreVernon hashtag and tag @ZenSeekers so we can engage with you while on the road and possibly feature what you uncover. 

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