Ice sculptures take over Whyte Avenue as the annual Winter Festival returns to town

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The Old Strathcona Business Association’s “Ice on Whyte” festival is back on the avenue after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

Internationally renowned ice sculptors from across Canada were invited to share their work, creating 11 ice sculptures to transform Dr. Wilbert McIntyre Park into a winter wonderland.

“We’re just trying to provide a really enjoyable outdoor experience so people can get out of their homes,” festival producer Jill Roszell said. “It’s been a long winter and it’s been a long pandemic.”

The festival has been held in the city for nearly 20 years, and its first official event began at Dr. Wilbert McIntyre Park in 2003. Since then, it has brought together sculptors from around the world to compete with their ice-sculpting skills. .

“It really is a world-class competitive sport and also a competition for artists,” Roszell said. She says that while this year’s event won’t feature international competitors due to COVID-19, the artwork is some of the best in the country.

“These are really some of the best Canadian artists you’re going to see here,” Roszell said.

Visitors can admire the ice sculptures and have the opportunity to try this cold art form for themselves. The festival will hold an ice sculpting workshop for all ages and Roszell says it’s the festival’s most popular attraction so far.

“It’s harder than it looks, but also a lot of fun,” Roszell said. “There’s a bit of satisfaction just in scraping the ice, and anyone can do it.”

The event participates in the provincial government’s restriction waiver program, and masks are encouraged when keeping a two-metre distance is not possible.

Ice on Whyte runs until February 6. Tickets can be purchased in line or at the door.

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