By Laura Keil, Publisher/Editor
The Goat’s events section is packed this week with some fantastic events leading up to Christmas.
Many events are at the nexus of socializing, shopping, and entertainment. Despite the wicked colds, flus and COVID, people are still managing to get out, visit with friends and spend some dollars locally.
While the valley never shies away from November and December events, January looms like a stormcloud on the horizon.
It can be hard to entice people out of their homes in January, but the lack of broad community events becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. So here’s my proposal: why not create a new annual tradition that breaks up those gloomy dark winter days? Think Jasper in January or Carnavale in Quebec City. Something that gets us into our never-used-enough winter gear and admiring those late sunrises and early sunsets. That encourages us to explore our local retail outlets instead of spending our evenings browsing Amazon. And that ensures we have a way to break up that cabin fever.
Here are some ideas from elsewhere to get us inspired (Canada’s top 10 winter festivals as per canadianbucketlist.com)
Carnaval de Quebec, Quebec City
Quebec’s Winter Carnival is the largest winter festival in the world. Some 475 tons of water is used to create snow sculptures and an ice palace. Competitions include dog sledding, canoeing and sleigh racing. The night parade is something to behold, making use of lights, movement and the guest of honour the Bonhomme Carnavale.
Ottawa’s 8km long ice rink along the Rideau Canal lends itself to ice-skating shows, while Winterlude also hosts a triathlon and an annual Bed Race (where people race metal bedframes outfitted with bike tires). Other highlights include a snow sculpture competition where each entry must be five metres high, three metres long, and weigh 40 tons.
Winter Festival of Lights, Niagara Falls
Niagara becomes a winter wonderland with over 125 animated light displays and three million tree and ground lights including coloured lights on the waterfalls. Concerts, performances and fireworks add to the festivities.
Toonik Tyme, Iqaluit
In April Nunavut residents celebrate the return of the sun by gathering for a week of games, music and feasting. With temperatures still well below zero, the Toonik Tyme festival showcases Inuit traditions and skills. Events include seal hunting, igloo building, dog team races, fishing and traditional outdoor games. The event also includes snowmobile climbs and a craft fair.
Festival du Voyageur, Winnipeg
This annual festival celebrates the history and culture of the fur traders known as the voyageurs, who used canoes to carry furs and supplies to various outposts, including one called Fort Rouge, which eventually became Winnipeg. Held in the French Quarter (Saint Boniface), the Festival du Voyageur includes various events, music, a torchlight walk, beard growing contest and celebration of Cajun culture.
Jasper in January, Jasper
This two-week festival boasts music, sports, arts and culinary events. Marmot Basin offers reduced lift tickets and special events include an art exhibit, wine and whisky tastings, and a multi-day pond hockey tournament. Daily events include wildlife tours, cook-offs, concerts, sports, demonstrations and pub crawls.
Caribou Carnival, Yellowknife
Since 1955, the Caribou Carnival has celebrated life in the Far North, evolving from a trappers gathering into a spring celebration that attracts thousands. Originally, only the toughest competed to be Bush King. Today, survival games and competitions take place at the Snowstage. You can also catch dogsled derbies, feast on pancake breakfasts, and dance away at fiddle parties.
Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous, Yukon
A sourdough is the name given to a person who has lived through a full Yukon winter, from freeze up to spring thaw. The gold rush-inspired festival includes some interesting events to watch and participate in such as the Flour Packing Competition, Axe Toss, Chainsaw Chuck, Log Splitting, and separate activities for the Kids Fest. You don’t have to be a sourdough to take part.
Montreal High Lights Festival
Montreal’s celebration of “light, food and culture” includes more than 100 performing arts events – music, dance and visual arts – in the city. Top chefs and winemakers host a wine and dine experience while fireworks pop over a bustling funfair. Old Montreal turns into an all-night, outdoor art gallery, complete with performances and installations. Many art galleries stay open through the night during what’s known as Nuit Blanche.
World Ski and Snowboard Festival, Whistler
During this 10-day festival, the world’s best ski and snowboard riders compete while famous musicians perform on free outdoor stages and at clubs and bars throughout Whistler. There’s also fashion shows, film and photography exhibitions, a dog parade, a skate zone and skiing on some of the world’s most spectacular runs.
Anyone in the region who is interested in organizing something in January or February please contact the Goat. We’d love to partner with you in making it a success.