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3 must-visit events in Canada for sports fans

Sport is ingrained in Canadian culture, and the country is perhaps best known for its love of ice hockey and other winter sports – which with a long, cold and dark winter that lasts for many months, likely comes as no surprise.

By LLM Reporters  |  January 18, 2022
Sunset over Calgary's skyline with the Scotiabank Saddledome in the foreground
Image Credit: ronniechua/Bigstock.com

When it comes to the world’s most exciting travel destinations for sport, the USA has long been a popular choice for those seeking court or field-side action. Thanks to its numerous famous basketball, baseball and hockey teams, a lavish jaunt across the pond to take in some edge-of-your seat games and matches is a natural move for those who just can’t get enough on home soil. But another nation offers a sports scene that is just as thrilling, and with its breath-taking scenery, vibrant cities and interesting culture, Canada offers up plenty of reasons to swerve the obvious choice and add the ‘Great White North’ to your travel list for 2022 instead.

Sport is ingrained in Canadian culture, and the country is perhaps best known for its love of ice hockey and other winter sports – which with a long, cold and dark winter that lasts for many months, likely comes as no surprise. Some of the most successful ice hockey teams are from Canada, including some notable NHL and Winter Olympic champions. But the nation has also spawned more than its fair share of gold medallists in the sport of curling, which continues to grow in popularity amongst players and viewers and has won the nation some extra attention of late from sports fans.

Recent changes to the law regarding betting in Canada have opened up a world of new opportunities for those who enjoy a flutter on their favourite teams, players and athletes, and both residents and visitors can now combine their love of sport with a passion for gambling. This can be done on-course or using the Bodog Canada app on your smartphone. 

The drama and passion of watching live sport combined with the thrill of boosting your betting balance by backing a winner makes for a great combination, so it’s perhaps little wonder that the nation’s number of sports tourists is growing. While some come as tourists, taking in an NHL match while visiting, others opt to plan their entire trip around taking in as many sports events and fixtures as possible. 

If you’re wondering how you could possibly combine a thrill-seeking sporting adventure with the utmost in luxury, then look no further – because these three events offer a perfect balance of both and their opulent hospitality packages will tick all the right boxes and more. And, with a plethora of lavish five-star hotels and high-end eateries scattered across the nation, you’ll have little trouble finding your fix.

The Stanley Cup

Stanley Cup MVP, Jonathan Toews hoisting the cup at the Stanley Cup Parade in Chicago, Friday June 11, 2010.
The Stanley Cup remains the only professional sports trophy where the name of every member of the winning team is inscribed. Image credit: iwantitall/Bigstock.com

If you’re looking for the glitz, glamour and excitement of the biggest sporting event in Canada then a trip to the Stanley Cup is the perfect choice. An annual event organised by the National Hockey League, it features some of the biggest names in the sport, and being amongst the major heavyweights of ice hockey, it’s no shock to learn that Canadian teams often compete for this trophy – which has a rich and interesting history.

The Stanley Cup is in huge demand every season, as you can imagine, but if you apply early enough then you might be lucky enough to snag some tickets. Always buy from an official source such as the NHL website. You may also find some tour guide packages that provide Stanley Cup tickets and accommodation. 

The Montreal Canadians are, by far, the most successful team in Stanley Cup history, winning the trophy 24 times between 1916 and 1993. They did appear in the final in 2021 but ended as runners up on that occasion, after being beaten by Tampa Bay Lightning by a 4-1 score.

The Tim Horton’s Brier

curling
The Tim Horton’s Brier is an annual curling event contested by 15 teams

It’s possible you never expected to find yourself at a packed out stadium supporting a curling match, but this game is almost as big as ice hockey to the Canadians. Taken very seriously by enthusiasts,  the nation has produced some fantastic curling champions over the years. Canada won gold at the 2018 Winter Olympics, an achievement which helped raise the profile of the sport even more – and it has been seen as a favourite national sport ever since.

The Tim Horton’s Brier is an annual event contested by 15 teams. It is the world’s most iconic curling event, and in addition to the thousands of supporters from Canada, draws a global audience – so if you can time your trip to Canada to tie in with this sporting spectacular, you’ll never forget it. The chances are, if you have an interest in curling, you may have seen this event before on TV, but there’s nothing like getting up close and personal and experiencing the competitiveness and excitement of the crowd.

Ski Jumping Nordic Combined National Championships

A jumping skier in the mountains. Mountain ski, winter extreme sport.
British Columbia often hosts the Ski Jumping Nordic Combined National Championships

Think of Canada and the chances are, as well as ice hockey, you’ll conjure up images in your mind of skiing and downhill or alpine skiing. The Ski Jumping Nordic Combined National Championships allows visitors to go a step further, moving from the fun of the slopes to watching the competitiveness of the professionals every spring. 

British Columbia often hosts this event, but it does move around, so planning ahead is essential to avoid disappointment.

After seeing how the professionals do it at the National Championships, you can give winter sports a try yourself at the Olympic Park. This modern venue offers members of the public the chance to experience the white-knuckle ride of bobsledding and skeleton, feeling the tension and thrill of flying down a 1,500-metre course. Other winter sports that you can try during your visit to the Olympic Stadium include skiing, shooting, electric fan biking, snowshoeing and tobogganing.