Today marks the start of Winter Light 2009, a new festival designed to “usher in the winter season” and “enjoy Edmonton’s winter spirit.” The opening ceremonies were held tonight in Churchill Square and City Hall. It couldn’t have happened on a day more representative of winter than today – temperatures were around –22 C (and –32 C with the wind chill) and we received a fresh dump of snow during the day!
Sharon and I made our way to Churchill Square at about 7:45pm and found it mostly empty except for the volunteers. Despite having a number of warming tents and fire/heat displays, most people were inside City Hall enjoying the free food (provided by NAIT) and the entertainment of Le Fuzz and others.
We wandered around the square for a bit and eventually found the information tent where they were offering free hot chocolate to anyone who brought their own cup. Great way to be a little more environmentally responsible! The hot chocolate tasted great and allowed us to stay outside a little more before heading indoors.
Sharon was excited to see what culinary delights NAIT was offering so we headed straight for the tables of food. Unfortunately the good feeling we had by bringing our own mug for hot chocolate disappeared when we found the disposable plates and spoons being used for the food! Ah well – everything was very tasty!
We spent some time enjoying the performances, and managed to catch the official “welcome” to Winter Light with one of the organizers and Councillor Ben Henderson (Councillor Kim Krushell was also in attendance):
Next up for Winter Light is Deep Freeze on 118th Avenue, which takes place this weekend on January 10th and 11th. Activities include outdoor curling, free hay rides, snowshoeing, snow sculpting workshops, and of course, free food! On January 15th the sixth annual Ice on Whyte festival gets underway.
Although there were far more people out for the much colder New Year’s Eve than there were tonight, I wouldn’t call the festival’s success into question just yet. The main events are what will really draw people in, and tonight was basically just free marketing for those events.
UPDATE: Sharon posted her thoughts and a bit more about the food at her blog.