We all have fond memories of getting dressed in our best holiday outfit and taking a picture with Santa at the mall, but Canada’s largest shopping mall takes the venerable holiday tradition a few steps further. Since its opening in 1981, West Edmonton Mall has pulled out all the stops for the holiday season, spending over $1 million on intricate decorations in 2013 alone.

From private appointments with Santa at North Pole Place to meeting the mall’s roaming princesses, here are some must-see West Edmonton Mall attractions this holiday season.

West Edmonton Mall Santa

Santa’s Village at West Edmonton Mall

Best known for its massive indoor theme parks like Galaxyland and World Waterpark, West Edmonton Mall has a suitably impressive Santa’s Village called North Pole Place. Featuring gorgeous, silver fir trees and hanging lights, it’s a magical place to first introduce your child to Santa Claus.

You can make that fateful moment extra special by scheduling a private appointment with West Edmonton Mall’s Santa, where small groups of families can get some extra facetime with the big guy, as well as access to the mall’s attractions.

The mall also holds a variety of fun workshops and events for children, including a petting zoo on Sundays and a chance to meet storybook characters at the Fantasyland Hotel. You can make fun souvenirs with your kids at the Colour Me Mine workshop, which might include a certain guest who hails from the North Pole…

West Edmonton Mall Skating Rink

The Ice Palace at West Edmonton Mall

One of the most popular West Edmonton Mall attractions, the Mayfield Toyota Ice Palace, is a regulation-size skating rink underneath a gorgeous glass dome. Take a break from retail therapy by hitting the ice or just enjoying some hot cocoa on the sidelines.

Christmas at West Edmonton Mall starts with the Ice Palace. The rink is the scene of Santa’s arrival every year, where he and his coterie of elves go on a parade from the ice rink to their temporary home of North Pole Place. The sight of West Edmonton Mall’s Santa procession will delight children of any age.

West Edmonton Mall World Waterpark 1280x767

Entertainment for Grown-Ups

While younger children will adore meeting Santa, taking pictures with princesses and partaking in finger-painting classes, the older children and their caretakers can zoom down massive roller coasters at Galaxyland. 

With 27 rides and attractions, the park’s crown jewel is the Mindbender, the world’s tallest and longest indoor roller coaster. The park’s other major attraction includes the Galaxy Quest 7D Theatre, a combination 3D movie, shooting gallery and roller coaster.

Enjoy some summer fun in the depths of winter at the World Waterpark, a massive indoor facility loaded with waterslides, wave pools, and splash pads. The waterpark features a massive wave pool with 12.5 million liters of water called Blue Thunder. 

Older children will also love traversing the depths of the Crystal Labyrinth Mirror Maze, an intricate hall of mirrors attached to a medieval themed mini-golf course.

West Edmonton Mall Santas Chair

West Edmonton Mall Holiday Traditions

No matter how old your children are, there will be plenty for them to enjoy at West Edmonton Mall. From meeting Santa, to zooming down roller coasters and waterslides, to skating at the Mayfield Toyota Ice Palace, Christmas at West Edmonton Mall is a truly unique experience. Plus, you might even be able to sneak in some last-minute holiday shopping between attractions.

Need a break from the kids? Adults can enjoy fine drinks at these bars and clubs in Edmonton.

Special thanks to the staff at the Comfort Inn West in Edmonton, AB for contributing to this piece.

Choice Hotels in Edmonton