Silver Skate Festival in full, cold swing this weekend

Music, mushing, skating and sleigh rides: Edmonton’s longest-running winter festival, Silver Skate, is back for another year.

The festival runs at Hawrelak Park through Monday 21, February which is Family Day. Silver Skate is rooted in the Dutch tradition of the love of outdoor activity. The festival’s anchor events, the Edmonton Winter Triathlon (skate, ski, and run); long blade skate races; and the Kortebaan, a traditional Dutch long blade sprint race, take place on the pond at Hawrelak Park.

Off the pond, Silver Skate has h an ice slide, horse-drawn sleigh rides, roving performers, figure skating, and, new this year, dog sled demonstrations by the Northern Alberta Mushers Association. There’s also face painting,snow and fire sculpture, and  you can try various winter activities for free, including snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and sledge hockey. The Heritage Village, meanwhile, features presentations and workshops.

Silver Skate includes the Cessco Snow Sculpture Garden, where snow sculptors from around the world compete for the top prize. And at night, the park transforms with the multimedia extravaganza Night Works in the Park, featuring performances by local musicians, dancers and comedians, including Jason Kodie, Colleen Brown, Leo Letendre, Viajante, Neko Rei, Donovan Workun, V.I.N.E. and Vibe Tribe.

Each night also features the dramatic blaze of fire sculpture, Art Burn, where artists compete for the fire sculpture title, and Fire in the Belly, a communal fire sculpture by and for Silver Skate visitors.

Visitors can also support the Children’s Ability Fund, the official charity of choice of the 2011 Silver Skate Festival,  by making a donation on-site or purchasing a shining star necklace from Festival volunteers. An ETS shuttle service from the Century Park and University of Alberta transit centres to Hawrelak Park is available, as on-site parking is extremely limited.