Snowy cabin with lanterns and trees

How to get hygge outdoors (and more)

Let’s start with the hard part: it’s pronounced hue-gah. Now that that’s out of the way, what the heck is it? Hygge is the Danish word for good times and nice feelings when you’re enjoying food, drink and warmth with good company. So even if this is the first time you’ve heard of hygge, chances are you know precisely what it’s all about.

Enter our own little tribute to hygge. Whether you’re looking to share a hygge-filled afternoon with friends, or to want just get outside more this winter, we’ve put together a handful of activity based ideas for gettin’ hygge with your favourite activities this season (sorry, we had to).

First, a few hygge essentials:

Lights: The image of friends and family huddled around a fire or candles while lost in conversation is quintessential hygge. Whether you’re indoors or outdoors, consider lighting a few extra candles – lanterns do the trick too – to create extra ambience.

Cozy things: This one’s a given. Nothing says hygge like sweats fresh out of the drier on a cold afternoon, or your favourite pullover fleece in a packed coffee shop before heading to the hill.

Warm drinks: Cocoa, apple cider, hot toddies, mulled wine, tea, you name it. Hot drinks = hygge, so plan your mug situation accordingly.

Say hygge all the time: Seriously. Just saying the word feels cozy. Do it, and bask in the warming power of language.

Skiing and snowshoeing

Few activities match the hygge-potential of skiing or snowshoeing. Picture this: you and your pals return from cross-country skiing to an A-frame cabin amidst snow-sprinkled pine trees, where a woodstove burns bright and hot drinks are steaming. You clomp inside to warm your chilly feet and bask in it all. Perfection!

But most of us don’t have regular access to picturesque cabins; instead, the only thing we’ll be cozying up to after skiing is our friend’s butt as we’re packed into the backseat of someone’s car.

Luckily, you can still create hygge on the trail and the ride home. First, step up your trail-snack game by packing a picnic: crackers and fancy cheese, some baked goods and hot beverages (enjoy these delicious suggestions). Then, pick a quiet spot near the trail and make a bit of a fuss: lay out a blanket, hang some lights up like a crazy person, or – provided no one’s around – bust out some hygge-friendly jams. Sure, these items will make your pack significantly heavier than normal. But whatever, hygge is all about creating a special, memorable atmosphere with good people.

For post-ski hygge luxury on the drive home, pack your favourite pair of cozy sweats or flannel, and bring a blanket for the backseat crew. Between that and a blazing car heater (or a fireplace if you’re lucky), you’re in for good hygge times.

Ski or snowshoe hygge checklist:


Group of runners running at night

When the holiday season kicks in, weekly workouts often get disrupted and you might not see your go-to run buddy or run crew as much.

Ready to buck that trend? Hold a run-hygge party! Bamboozle your running pals to bundle up for a brisk jaunt. Pick a route that end at your place. Make sure simmering mulled wine and treats are waiting. Simple, sure, but it’s amazing how satisfying classics like good food and drink can be after a workout. Combine that with a solid-gold group dynamic, and you’ve got a recipe for hygge success.

Or organize a solstice night-run with headlamps, lanterns and hot drinks in your running pack to kick-start the hygge vibes. Because when it’s dark and cold, friends and a gaggle of bobbing headlamps provide a world of warmth.

Run hygge checklist


Practicing yoga at home with candles

With parties and vacations, there’s a chance you’ll get behind on your practice at this time of year. To keep your yoga hot streak going, create a makeshift home yoga studio – hygge style. Choose a room or corner, set up some moody lights or candles, and turn up the heat for a bit (if you’ve got a fireplace, all the better).

To keep the spirit of hygge strong, invite a friend of yours who’s been hesitant to join you at yoga. Sure, a session in front of the fireplace while talking your pal through a few poses won’t present the most challenging class ever. But the feeling of sharing something meaningful with good people will stoke some hygge vibes.

Yoga hygge checklist

Indoor climbing

Because climbing’s so social, simply heading to the gym around the holidays feels special. To boost the good vibes, say hello to someone new, bring goodies from your favourite recipe, or take a family member or friend climbing for the first time. Or, be the chalk fairy: sprinkle a bit of chalk in everyone’s chalkbag. (You can never have enough chalk.)

Got a hangboard at home? Invite your climbing friends over and bring climber-ly flare to the affair. For every steaming mug of mulled wine poured, make encourage your friends to hop on the hangboard and do a dead-hang, pull-up, L-hang or whatever. Oh, and tell your guests to bring candles. Because hygge.

Climbing hygge checklist

Just being outside

At a certain point, long days of relative inactivity and indulgence are going to happen in winter. Why not shake things up a bit and share the great hygge outdoors? Keep it simple – bundle up with friends and go skating, bring along a beverage or two to the sledding hill, go stargazing on crystal clear nights, convince your whole family to go for a walk as the snow falls – whatever! Part of hygge is creating meaningful experiences fueled by the warmth of good company. Somehow, getting outside together always seems to make that happen.

Jumping people on a dock
MEC Staffer

A Canada-wide crew of adventurers, thinkers, doers, writers, photographers and people who love the outdoors.