Mack and I braved the cold conditions tonight to take in Ice on Whyte. Had we known in advance exactly how cold it would be (-32 with windchill!), we may have thought better of it, but ignorance is bliss, right? So, with our warmest socks and thermos mugs, we were off.
First, we walked over to the Legislature to check out the special displays north of the river, which celebrate the twinning of our province with Heilongjiang, China.
Some signage would have been helpful, both in reaching the festival grounds as well as to guide us to the non-descript entrance. No admission was required for this portion of the event, and in spite of the weather, there were a number of people touring the snow and ice sculptures, and more in the heated tent where the Cygnets were performing on stage.
Heilongjiang Provincial People’s Congress Building and our Legislature (I loved the columns on the congress building)
The Cygnets (we loved the dance party to the side of the tent – with people in full parkas on, of course!)
We knew about the free High Level Bridge Streetcar rides available for festival goers to connect to the main site, but it wasn’t as evident in the signage as the Legislature grounds or where we caught the streetcar at Grandin Station. Although we missed the in-car entertainment for the evening (how cool would that be?!), it was still a neat experience to take the streetcar in the winter, after dark.
It was frosty inside the High Level Streetcar
We departed the streetcar at the Arts Barns, and walked over to the End of Steel Park. We’d never seen the festival so empty before (especially compared with last year), though I’m sure there would have been more patrons during the day.
End of Steel Park
The warming tent was a welcome reprieve from the chill, where hot beverages were being served for a donation. Some were less affected by the cold though – there was a little boy who was happily playing with snow blocks, oblivious to the swirling winds around him.
There seemed to be a number of photographers out tonight too, with tripods trying to capture the best shots of the gleaming ice sculptures.
My favourite (you can even see the flower stems in the pot!)
End of Steel Park is noticeably larger than the usual location of the festival, which allowed for a lot more space between sculptures. It also meant a larger ice slide could be accommodated – with four chutes! On fairer days, the line can be quite prohibitive, so we grabbed this opportunity to take a turn down the slide.
Thanks to festival organizers for another great event – and a special kudos to the volunteers who staffed the festival, especially on a night like this.