I was really excited to attend the kick-off event of this year’s Winter Light festival, Mispon Gala (mispon is “it’s snowing” in Cree). Based on last year’s evening of entertainment and food, I thought things could only get better, with Winter Light now in it’s second year.
Before entering City Hall, I walked past Churchill Square, expecting to find some outdoor activities similar to the previous year such as fire pits, light and lantern installations, or a snow maze. Unfortunately, the Square was bare.
All of the evening’s activity was concentrated at City Hall. Three fire pits had been set up around the ice rink, with some braving the cold playing around on the ice as we were leaving, but for the most part, everyone was indoors.
Outside City Hall
The ceremonies had just started when I arrived, with several festival event organizers taking their turn at the microphone to introduce their respective projects. After that, the audience was treated to a performance by Kristine Nutting’s Warm Up Burlesque – a cheeky, reverse burlesque that had the dancers pulling on layers of clothing. It was somewhat amusing, but not my cup of tea.
Krstine Nutting’s Warm Up Burlesque
To end off the night, Johnny Quazar and the Swingbots provided the musical backdrop as NAIT catering dished out comforting plates of food, including Big Rock Winter Spice Ale glazed meatballs and maple baked beans with sourdough crostini. Our favourite actually turned out to be the honey-scented bannock with Saskatoon marmalade – the bannock was sweet, with a lovely consistency similar to a scone.
Johnny Quazar and the Swingbogs
Bannock and Baked Beans
I was a little disappointed festival organizers didn’t go the route chosen last year – offering free hot chocolate to those who brought a reusable mug (I realize I should have brought a container for the food samples as well). I do think, however, that the more festivals remind us to bring containers with us, the better – it will eventually become habit.
In the City Room
As a whole, I was expecting more of the gala – more people, more excitement, more festivities. The tone seemed restrained this year, and as Mack noted, the lack of outdoor activities (for a festival that celebrates the cold season) was unfortunate. I am still looking forward to some of the upcoming events though, such as Ice on Whyte and the Silver Skate Festival. Check the website for more details.