Now 17 years running (at the original time of upload), the Ice on Whyte Festival is one of the premiere winter events of Edmonton. Whereas Deep Freeze was a celebration of multiculturalism, this two-week festival is a celebration of art, more specifically sculpting. This was another interesting first for me, as I don’t usually go this far out by myself during winter. I wanted to post this the weekend before it ended so I could encourage you to check it out yourselves, but I caught the flu, so yeah…
Anyways, the festival site moved to Dr. Wilbert McIntyre Park. I can’t really comment on how the move affected things (I will, however, point out that Ice on Whyte is a misnomer now), but it’s still a nice location in close proximity to the many businesses of Whyte Avenue. It isn’t free entry, but the ticket cost is still pretty fair at $7 per adult and $5 per child.
Of course, the highlight of Ice on Whyte is the ice. What good would an ice festival be otherwise? Across the festival grounds were a bunch of ice and snow sculptures, and in the big tent was a contest where you could vote for your favorite professionally-made sculpture! The 2020 winner was Melody of Autumn Skies by Team Sakha (which you can find on the festival’s social media platforms), but the ones shown above were my personal favorites.
There are also demonstrations of professional techniques/equipment, and as you can see above, you even have the opportunity to try making your own ice block sculpture! Mine’s a bit rough around the edges, I know, but I think this may be the first time I’ve worked with ice like this. Ice is a really fun art medium to work with, it just takes some patience and precision.
When you inevitably get tired of looking at ice, there are still a few more things to do! You can sit by the fireplaces to warm yourself up, grab a marshmallow and make s’mores as well! There’s also a hot dog stand and a beer tent, as well as all the Whyte Ave restaurants close by if you fancy something else. The kids can also watch a show put on by the Edmonton Public Library, which has a location right by the site!
I did volunteer here as well, but I’m not at liberty to discuss that, given that there’s a confidentiality waiver involved. Don’t want to get into any legal trouble, ya know? I will say that all volunteers are treated well, and we received fair benefits for our time.
Also, quick disclaimer: all images used in this post were taken off-shift as a visitor. I do not represent the Ice on Whyte festival, nor do I claim to represent any views other than my own.
Overall, it’s a pretty fun day event. There aren’t enough activities to justify multiple trips, but it doesn’t really need to be a huge multi-day expedition anyways. It’s perfectly fine to just drop by, have some outdoor fun with your friends/family, and have a nice evening back at home.