Winterfesthiver (Winterfest NB): History and Vision
Winterfest NB Inc was inspired by a family's visit to Winterlude in the mid 1990's in the Nation's Capital Region. Three generations of extended family had a ball for an entire weekend - together. Everything was free, except for snacks. They hopped on a SnoBus to go from the ice sculptures in Downtown Ottawa to the ice slides in Gatineau, Quebec and hopped back on again to get back to their cars and hotels. They skated on the canal in the morning, slid in the afternoon and marveled at the sculptures in the evening enjoying throughout varied cultural presentations of dance and song; participatory sporting activities such as rock climbing and foosball; and related contributions from museums, galleries, the military and the international host of the year, Australia. Fireworks signaled the end of each night.
With over 60% of Winterlude visitors coming from outside the region, they joined the masses of tourists who flock to family and hotels during three weeks every February. During Winterlude visitors eat at restaurants, rent cars, buy gas, go shopping, stock up on hand-warmers and toe-warmers, and dress in parkas and ski pants, even in the museums. To do otherwise would make you stand out from the crowd, notwithstanding the cold!
The idea came that this same atmosphere could be cultivated in Fredericton. Others began to share the vision and came together to present the inaugural Winterfest NB in 2002. What a success! Over 20,000 visitors in 13 hours in -29oC windchill spent the weekend riding the ice slides, wandering the huge maze, eating Bear-paws and sipping hot chocolate. For two days prior, countless school children enjoyed a field trip to the Winterfest Kingdom with additional games coordinated by school district physical education mentors. If you build it, they will come.
Of course, the slides which were the highlight of the family's trip to Winterlude, are the glory of Winterfesthiver also. No less impressive is the snow maze, an adult version of the three foot high children's maze that captivated them at Winterlude. Each year brings the goal of building bigger and better. Together with the slides and the maze, Winterfesthiver has brought together other activities to make a day in the snow truly worthwhile for all who attend.
But we didn't stop there! Winterfesthiver 2015 saw the vision expanded to two new and exciting INDOOR components, the Artisans' Village and Rocks the Night! Just steps away from the Winter Kingdom, the Artisans' Village is a great place to recharge and warm up while enjoying artists, artisans, musicians, dancers and all sorts of other entertainment.
Celebrate winter with Winterfesthiver - carry on a tradition, or start a new one - there's Winter Fun For Everyone!