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Canada is a charming, diverse country to visit, and if you love winter scenes or are ready to battle the cold (Canada in January tends to be chilly), then it is the place to be! Cold temperatures, frequent snow, and vast natural regions make the country a haven for winter sports fanatics. From the majestic Niagara Falls to the quaint, historic Quebec City, Canada has something to offer everyone, from adventure-seekers to city strollers. Just remember to wrap up warm!

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Weather in Canada in January

January is the coldest month in Canada and as you keep going north, the temperatures keep getting colder. You can expect plenty of snow in most places (but not all!), with average temperatures usually around -15.5°C, although this can vary according to where you are visiting. For instance, eastern Canada has average highs of 7°C in January and lows of -6°C, coastal areas being warmer than inland. Vancouver is also milder with averages highs of 6°C and lows still above zero, at 2°C, with generally much less snow. Toronto, on the other hand, lies further inland and has a minimum temperature of -8°C and a maximum of -1°C in January. Western Canada with places such as Calgary is also cold and sees temperatures generally a bit colder than Toronto.

For a seasonal overview of weather in Canada, take a look at our guide on the best time to visit Canada.

Weather in Canada in January - Rainfall and Temperatures

Avg Daily (°C)100
Avg Nightly (°C)-3-5-5
Avg Daily (°F)343232
Avg Nightly (°F)272323
Avg Rainfall (mm)204040

Why Visit Canada in January

Northern lights illuminating trees on a winter’s evening Canada in January.
Watch the winter skies dance with northern lights in Canada in January.

January is a good time to take a trip to Canada if you love winter in all its glory. Explore the country by visiting heritage sites, hitting the slopes and discovering local festivals.

  • Fewer crowds and better access to heritage sites: Although it is peak season in the ski resorts, it’s the low season almost everywhere else. Canada is currently home to 20 World Heritage sites, such as Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta or Miguasha National Park in Québec, and prices to visit these sites may be lower in January.
  • Winter festivals: Winter festivals are a source of great pride in Canada, and they brighten up the wintry, cold landscapes. Quebec City’s Winter Carnival is the largest winter festival in the world, and Winterlude in Ottawa has awe-inspiring attractions.
  • See the Aurora Borealis: See the Aurora Borealis, better known as the Northern Lights, shine in all their glory at Canada’s most renowned parks. You can watch the winter skies dance at Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies, Churchill in Northern Manitoba, near the city of Edmonton in Alberta, or anywhere northern!  
  • Niagara Ice Wine Festival: Niagara Falls is certainly a sight to see, so stop there in January to make the most of their Ice Wine Festival. Discover Niagara’s on-the-lake vines, taste their finest wines, and dig into some delicious food. It’s perfect for any foodie!

Where to go and what to do

A woman snowboarding in the snowy mountains in Canada in January.
Enjoy winter activities such as skiing and snowboarding while traveling to Canada in January.
The Chateau Frontenac in Quebec covered in snow in Canada in January.
Explore Quebec City in its winter glory on your trip to Canada in January.

Popular tourist destinations such as Quebec City, Montreal and Vancouver tours offer a plethora of activities to do in Canada in January. You can enjoy indoor activities such as a shopping spree at International Village Mall or visit museums and galleries to explore the country’s history. The Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec has over 42,000 works of art for you to see. Don’t forget to check out Musée de la Civilisation, which celebrates the achievements and progress made by humans throughout the years.

Old Québec is a World Heritage site that shouldn't be missed. Stroll along the oldest cobblestone in North America and explore the birthplace of French Canada. Visit Montreal – Canada’s second-largest city – and marvel at Old Montreal, with its Notre Dame Basilica, one of the most atmospheric places to be.

Winter sports lovers will relish visiting Canada in January. Enjoy skiing, snowboarding, sledding and ice skating, or discover the Ice Magic Festival that takes place at Lake Louise in gorgeous Banff, where ice sculptors from all over the world show off their skills. Lake Louise also becomes an outdoor ice-skating rink, perfect to try out some new ice-skating moves. However, as January is the peak season for winter sports, book your accommodation in advance and make sure to bring the right gear.

Banff National Park covered in snow in Canada in January.
National parks such as Banff and Miguasha are great attraction spots in Canada in January.

If hitting the slopes does not appeal to you, don’t fret! There are still plenty of things to do in Canada in January. The west coast city doesn’t usually see the freezing temperatures and hordes of snow like inland areas and boasts stunning parks like Stanley Park, where you can visit the Bright Nights event, where multicolored lights adorn the park. Another stop on your itinerary should be Saskatoon, where you can find the Winter Shines Festival. Everything is, of course, winter-themed! You can explore an Ice Park, admire the Ice Sculpture Garden and even enjoy a Winter Camp in the city.

What to bring

Make sure to pack winter clothes on your trip to Canada. Bring thick sweaters, jackets, hats, clothing made from wool or other woven fabrics, gloves, boots and scarves. Pack proper gear if you plan to try winter sports.

Although winter in Canada is in full swing in January, don’t let that put you off traveling. As well as winter sports, there are World Heritage sites, galleries, restaurants and shops for you to explore. Read more about a trip to Canada on our travel guide on how many days to spend in Canada. Look into our a tailor-made trip to Canada for a personalized holiday trip.

Published by Swechhya S, updated on December 21, 2023

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