Edmonton’s Winter Lights Festival – Details Please!

Back in September, plans for a new winter festival called Winter Lights: A Celebration of Edmonton’s Winter Spirit were released. Almost immediately city council allocated $450,000 to the event. Today, the festival received an additional $300,000 from council:

The money comes as councillors try to make cuts to the proposed 2009 budget to avoid homeowners getting stuck with the double-digit tax increase that was originally projected in October.

Festival chairperson John Mahon said he appreciates people’s concern for how their tax dollars will be spent.

The event would run from January 8th until March 21st, right during the heart of winter. In addition to including three existing events – Ice on Whyte, the Deep Freeze on 118th Avenue, and Silver Skate in Hawrelak Park – new events such as a star-gazing party in Elk Island National Park are being planned. I like the idea, and I think it will be great for Edmonton to make that time of the year more enjoyable!

Holiday Lights at the Alberta Legislature
Photos of Light Up at The Alberta Legislature

I am concerned about the budget and timeline for the festival, however. I completely understand that arts and culture make up a relatively small amount of the city budget, and I absolutely agree that a winter festival is a great idea for a northern city like Edmonton. What I don’t get is how $750,000 is going to be spent on a festival slated to start in about a month?

Where is the website? What does the marketing look like? Is there a logo? Why are the only results in a Google Search news articles about the funding? Why isn’t the event listed in the Festival City calendar? Why don’t the existing event websites mention the new festival? And just what are these new events, anyway? A star-gazing party doesn’t sound like a very expensive production. And finally, why are they already planning for 2010? Shouldn’t we see how 2009 goes first?

According to the Edmonton Journal, more details will be released next Wednesday. I would really love for this festival to be successful, so I hope the plans don’t disappoint.

In the meantime, check out this thread at C2E for some more context and history. And some interesting ideas from Edmontonians!

UPDATE (12/12/2008): A website launched on Wednesday, December 10th: http://www.winterlight.ca – thx to Joel in the comments for letting me know.

UPDATE (1/8/2009): Here are notes, photos, and video from the opening ceremonies for Winter Light 2009!