Edmonton makes its winter attractions big
Take a stroll through the 22 kilometres of bike trails that wind their way through Edmonton’s majestic river valley on a crisp winter day and you’ll discover an awe-inspiring sight: the big blue sky that Alberta is famous for. But that’s not all that’s big in Edmonton. In this northerly city, winter seems to inspire some pretty gargantuan ideas. Case in point is the inaugural year of Metropolis, the Edmonton International Winter Festival, which started on New Year’s Eve and runs every weekend through the Family Day weekend, ending on February 20.
Held in downtown’s hub, Sir Winston Churchill Square, this festival’s sights are hard to miss: four huge, free-standing temporary pavilions made of scaffolding covered with white shrink wrap. Each of these pavilions features a multi-media light and sound show using 21st Century new media. Each features a different theme. There’s the Community Centre, featuring a showcase of different arts and community groups; the Taste of Winter, which includes succulent samplings from many of Edmonton’s best dining establishments; the Polar Brewhouse, sponsored by the Canadian Brewhouse (a licensed venue, open nightly); and for great family fun there’s the Children’s Pavilion, sponsored by ATB Financial.
“We invited aspiring artists from school across the Edmonton Capital region to participate in our Electronic Mural Art Contest (sponsored by Safeway),” says Giuseppe Albi of Events Edmonton, the creators of the event. “We’re projecting their drawings on the south wall of the Children’s Pavilion.” That’s not all. The pavilion also features a 44-foot inflatable slide for the kids as well as arts & crafts and activities zones.
Designed by local architects, the pavilions of Metropolis have to be seen to be believed. And because they’re heated, you’ll be toasty-warm while you’re busy gawking at this amazing winter spectacle.
Sometimes there’s nothing cooler than the outdoors, however. Take a trip to Edmonton’s historic Old Strathcona district this January and you’ll find a lot more than funky local shops and restaurants. From January 12 to 22, experience the Ice On Whyte Festival. It’s a must-see – especially this year, which celebrates the 30th anniversary of two of the world’s coolest sister provinces: Alberta, Canada and Heilongjiang, China. Ten ice and snow carvers from China will be working with Alberta artists to create ice and snow carvings during this much-talked-about international ice carving competition. These ice sculptures are utterly beautiful: especially when you see them at night, lit by glorious coloured lights.
This year, Ice On Whyte is bigger than ever. It’s so big, in fact, that it expands well past Old Strathcona and onto the Alberta Legislature Grounds downtown in the river valley. And there are free streetcar rides from Old Strathcona to the Legislature Grounds.
The outdoor fun continues into February with Edmonton’s longest-running winter festival, the Silver Skate Festival & Winter Celebration, February 17 to 22 in the magnificent Hawrelak Park in the river valley. There are no shortage of activities for families: family snow sculpting, figure skating demonstrations, horse-drawn sleigh rides, a multi-media extravaganza, two evenings of fire sculptures, and the Edmonton Winter Triathlon, which requires athletes to ice skate, cross country ski and run during one of the coldest months of the Canadian winter.
Of course, life is every bit as magical if you experience Edmonton indoors! A day trip to the city’s famous West Edmonton Mall is good for starters, but you’ll need more than a day for everything you’ll want to see and do. There’s glow-in-the-dark Cosmic Bowling in Ed’s Rec Room, an 18-hole miniature golf course (Professor WEM’ Adventure Golf), the National Hockey League-sized Ice Palace, and for the truly adventurous in spirit, West Edmonton Mall also has Ropes Quest, a three-level aquatic-theme obstacle course, and World Waterpark, which boasts three new, incredibly thrilling waterslides.
At Edmonton’s Telus World of Science, meanwhile, you can experience a trip into the past, with Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition (on now until February). Each visitor receives a replica of the same boarding pass passengers used to board the Titanic in 1912. From there, your journey into the past is complete with a display of almost 200 real artifacts recovered from nearly four kilometres below the ocean: the Titanic’s whistle, china etched with the logo elite White Star Line, perfume from a maker who was travelling to New York to sell his samples, and more.
There’s another fascinating exhibition at the Royal Alberta Museum that allows you to experience some of the most beautiful Canadian rivers from on board a canoe. A River Runs Through It runs until February 5. Its interactive activities even give you the chance to experience a salmon's adventure as it makes its way up the mighty Fraser River to spawn.
Whether you’re outdoors or indoors this winter in Edmonton, there’s a lot to see and do… all of it as spectacular as a big Alberta sky.
Communications Manager, External Relations
Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC) provides leadership in economic development, markets Edmonton as a must-see destination, manages the Shaw Conference Centre and Edmonton Research Park, and acts as a stakeholder in TEC Edmonton, a joint venture with the University of Alberta. For more information, visit www.edmonton.com Learn more about Edmonton through the stories of people who've experienced it at www.edmontonstories.ca