Thursday, January 8th, 2009 at 11:33 pm

Winter Light 2009

When I first heard about the new Winter Light Festival, an initiative to make the most of our longest season, I was skeptical about the interest that a cold weather festival would generate. But as more details were released about some of the events that would take place over the ten weeks, I started to get excited – the Fringe started off small, didn’t it?

Churchill Square

Mack and I headed down to Churchill Square this evening for the opening ceremonies. We missed the blessing fire, but wandered through the Square to see what other outdoor fun was to be had. We wandered past a warming tepee, a spiral maze built with mounds of snow, a number of warming stations, and a tent distributing hot chocolate. The latter required that a reusable mug be presented, or else one could be borrowed for $4 – I liked this environmental acknowledgement.

Outside City Hall

As it was –30 with windchill that night, it wasn’t surprising that the most lively place was in fact inside City Hall. Of course, free samples of comfort foods, cooked up by students from the NAIT Culinary Arts program, didn’t hurt matters either.

The samples they distributed were quite generous, and really, it was probably a shame that we had eaten dinner just before. Four items were up for grabs: medley of three perogies with traditional garnishes, chipotle bison chili, Alberta pulled pork slider with slaw, and bannock with local honey. The chili was definitely my favourite (so much so that I went back for seconds) – I loved the sweetness of the corn added to balance out the spiciness. Mack loved the moist and tender pork sliders.

Pork Slider and Bannock

My only disappointment was that disposable plates were used. Though NAIT was likely responsible for the food, the organizers still could have alerted them to the pro-environment ideal, and at least have encouraged people to reuse their plates and cutlery.

We stayed and watched some of the entertainment for a while, including Andrea House and Le Fuzz. Though it was a cold night, I think I expected the attendance to be higher. Understanding that the festival kicked off on a Thursday to make the most of the Friday news cycle, the hours probably made it difficult for families with school-aged children to attend.

City Room festivities

Based on the opening ceremonies, I’m cautiously optimistic about the rest of the schedule. Up next: the Deep Freeze on 118 Avenue, and Ice on Whyte. Go check it out!

Mack’s post on the opening ceremonies is here, while his photo set is here.