When people think of winter celebrations in Canada, Carnaval de Québec and Ottawa’s Winterlude readily come to mind. The Grande North Winter Festival is quickly making a name for itself in the Peace Country.
The Jan. 13 to 15 event in Grande Prairie is filled with family fun spread between three locations within walking distance – Bonnetts Energy Centre, Montrose Cultural Centre and Muskoseepi Park. It launched last winter, and organizers already have visions of bigger things to come.
“Being the largest major centre north of Edmonton, our goal is to create one of the best winter festivals in Western Canada, eventually establishing Grande North Winter Festival as a stop on the Canada Cup of Ice Carving Tour,” says Jade Nyland, Event Manager with the City of Grande Prairie’s Bonnetts Energy Centre & Montrose Cultural Centre. “After the success of last year’s event, we were thrilled to announce the 2023 Grande North Winter Festival.”
The festival has something for everyone, including new additions from last winter’s debut. It’s situated within the downtown core in the heart of the city. There’s a wide array of free and ticketed elements.
“Outside at Montrose Cultural Centre we have free components of the festival, which include the Aquatera Ice Slide, The Office Snow Maze and the Greenpath Skating Oval, and Crokicurl Rink,” says Nyland. “At Bonnetts Energy Centre we have the ticketed portion of the festival with the Ice Gardens, featuring world-renowned carvers, maple taffy pulling, live entertainment – a DJ and music by 54-40 and Steven Lee Olsen with guests Don Amero, The Northbloods, and McKindred – and two Grande Prairie Storm games. “Down at Muskoseepi Park, there’s skating on the pond, horse and wagon rides and more maple taffy, all free of charge. Each festival location offers a different experience for the whole family to enjoy.”
Complete details can be found at www.cityofgp.com/winterfest
As the festival name indicates, it’s meant to attract visitors from across the region and boost tourism.
“We cannot wait to welcome winter festival goers back to celebrate the beauty of our unique northern winters. Everyone is encouraged to bundle up and come check it out,” says Nyland. “We want to provide residents from throughout the region with an event to look forward to and encourage community involvement.”
The City of Grande Prairie’s efforts are augmented by contributions from community partners. “The broad theme of the festival invites an array of activities and potential for engagement and partnerships, which help us bring new components to the festival for the community to enjoy,” says Nyland. “We’re grateful for our community partners and their support and would not be able to deliver the same experience without them. It’s fantastic to have organizations in the community that are so eager to be part of things like Grande North Winter Festival that really make our city a great place to live.”