After work on Friday, I met up with Mack and Hannah to take in the first ever Winter Shake-up Festival and Market at Churchill Square.
A public event, it capped off a two-day conference all about winter: design, marketing, business opportunities, and of course, how to encourage more people to embrace the season. Although it ended up being unfortunate timing that the festival coincided with the coldest evening this January, it resulted in a true winter experience – one the organizers had to plan for, and attendees had to dress for.
We loved the overall feel of the Square – they kept the layout tight, and the welcoming light installations and scissor-lifted lights added some magic.
Given nature’s unpredictability, organizers had a number of ways for folks to warm up. Our favourite was through their selection of hot drinks, including apple cider, spiked coffee and mulled wine.
There were also three brave food trucks on hand, and the even braver souls who ordered from them. I’m sure a topic for future conferences could be designing winter al fresco-friendly food – most people ducked into tents to consume their fare, while others huddled under heat lamps to keep their exposed fingers warm.
Over forty market vendors participated, either in large heated tents, or in the individual huts we’d first spied at All is Bright. On this cold night, this set-up seemed to put those in the huts at a slight disadvantage, as they were on the periphery of the action, but the aesthetics of the covered stalls are closer to the European-style markets organizers wanted to emulate. It will be interesting to see how this aspect might be improved for future events.
I really loved that several dynamic activities were also being offered on the Square. Attendees could try out segways, fat bikes, and a snow slide built on top of the steps of the amphitheater.
Although I recognize the liability the slide presents if unattended, it was unfortunate the structure had to be demolished the day after the event. I know maintaining it would require a cost, but something as simple as a slide can bring so much joy to children and adults alike, and would provide a reason to interact with the outdoors in a space otherwise pretty barren in the winter.
Kudos to the organizers for a great first time event – let’s hope the momentum continues!