By many standards, 2022 was a difficult year not only for Saskatchewan residents, but for all Canadians.
From rising interest rates, to skyrocketing grocery prices, to illness — it can seem like the hardships keep coming.
While nothing actually changes at midnight on New Year's, many take the fresh calendar year as an opportunity to change their outlook. For some, that means finding more joy in everyday life.
There are many ways to find joy through events and other offerings this year in Saskatchewan.
Chris Attrell plans on enjoying many of them.
Attrell, a photographer and traveling photography teacher based in Shaunavon, said the last three years have been very difficult for people in creative fields like himself.
"They've really suffered a lot since COVID, because nobody wants to go take lessons because it's usually indoors in a classroom. So in 2022 it didn't really quite recover, but it did better than the previous two years," Attrell said.
However, Attrell says meeting room bookings nearly doubled in 2022 and hotel room prices went up about 30 per cent. Add to that high gas prices and you have a challenge, he said.
Attrell said he plans on finding reprieve from those challenges by visiting many Saskatchewan provincial parks in 2023.
"I actually want to get out and be able to hike more than just five or six kilometres before I'm tired. So this is the year I'm going to make an attempt to actually try to get those 15- and 20-kilometre hikes," he said.
Attrell, who moved from Banff to Saskatchewan in 2006, said he loves the province because of its sparse population, which means a lack of lineups and crowded parking lots. He said its the perfect way to "naturally social distance."
"I think the one thing that I'm going to do to experience the most joy is visit parks at night to do stargazing and night photography. Just because it's so peaceful and there's such little noise pollution. Unlike when I lived in Banff, there really isn't a lot of people out there. So you really get a a blissful, joyful experience."
For those who want something really special, Saskatchewan Parks has partnered with Engelheim Tours to offer overnight and day trip bus tours to Echo Valley, Duck Mountain and Buffalo Pound Provincial Parks. The tours include unique winter adventures, accommodations and meals for each guest.
First up is Skate the Park at Echo Valley Provincial Park on Jan. 27. The A-maze-ing Getaway at Duck Mountain Provincial Park takes place Feb. 11 to 12, and Explore More at Buffalo Pound Provincial Park takes place on March 4.
For those who want to head to the parks on their own, winter camping is available.
Meanwhile, Regina is getting ready to host the 2023 Skate Canada Challenge. The pre-novice and novice event takes place at the Co-operators Centre at REAL District from Jan. 25 to 28 and is a perfect outing for the whole family.
The new Wascana Pool is expected to open in Regina soon. Facility testing is taking place now in the off-season. The city says the pool will be open for the 2023 season.
Then … let's go girls.
On May 12, Shania Twain is set to make dreams come true by performing in Saskatoon. Generations of fans who have donned leopard print catsuits and belly shirts while singing karaoke to Man I Feel Like a Woman will flock to the SaskTel Centre for a night of beloved tunes with the Canadian country icon.
Finally, Hockey Saskatchewan is introducing a new under-22 female junior league for the 2023-2024 season.
More than a dozen communities in the province have shown interest in the league. Hockey Saskatchewan hopes to field four to eight teams for the inaugural season, with Regina and Saskatoon being hubs.
A Hockey Saskatchewan task team is working on a process for communities/teams to apply to be a part of the inaugural season. An announcement regarding this initiative is expected this month.
So, get out, get active, get entertained and get joyful this year.