The Silver Skate Festival at Edmonton’s Hawrelak Park is looking a little different this year (as are so many events). And while the normal winter experiences were adjusted to fit this year’s health restrictions, there is still no limit on the amount of fun provided by Silver Skate, and many other winter festivals in Edmonton.
The 31st Silver Skate Festival, February 12-21, entails creating your own winter fun, experiences, and challenges. While you take in the best of Silver Skate Festival, don’t forget to combine your day (or weekend) with some of the other winter events taking place throughout the city. And peek below at 14 things you can enjoy through the Silver Skate Festival.
Walk Along the Folk Trail
You can partake in a lot of sport and winter activity at Silver Skate, but you can also take in some relaxation, unwinding, and casual strolling. Take a walk along the Festival’s Folk Trail, where you will experience a retrospect of all Folk Trails to have come and passed in Silver Skate’s 30+ years in Edmonton. This path is usually dotted with artistic performers, actors, and dancers, but received a revamp: instead of live actors, enjoy clips, photos, and displays of Folk Trails of yore.
See the Snow Sculptures
A walk through the Festival’s garden of Waiward Snow Sculptures could be just what you need for your photo contest inspirations! A group of talented snow sculptors will put their best work on display next to the pond and Park Pavilion- marvel at the sculptures themselves, but also at the artists hard at work packing snow, shaving ice, or completing their masterpiece.
Catch the ‘Crystal Lanterns’
Thanks to the creative mind of local artist, Steven Teeuwsen, you can take a magical walk through Hawrelak’s paths, dotted with his Crystal Lanterns. These metal and wood art displays are inspired by the pop-up look of paper lanterns and are lit in a way which creates beautiful shapes and patterns of light on the snow. Let the Crystals light your next walk or snowshoe through the park.
Get Lost in ‘The Space Between’
Enter the space between two different worlds projected on four different walls, and get lost in the art of Kalli Melenius, Ritchie Velthuis, and Daniel St-Pierre. The group of artists set to create an interactive experience with video projection which exhibits Edmonton life, abstract art, geometric patterns, and “whimsy.”
Skating on the Hawrelak Pond
It wouldn’t be the Silver Skate fest without a little pond skating! This is the biggest pond rink in the city, and offers tons of room for learning, zipping by at your fastest speeds, or for just a leisurely stroll around the trees. Enjoy the rink at sunrise or sunset for beautiful skies and backdrops to your East and West, or closer to noon at the warmest possible times. No matter what time of day you choose to enjoy Hawrelak Pond skating, we guarantee space for social distancing, plenty of room for lacing up, and ample parking.
Cross Country Ski Two Trails
There are many great spots for cross-country skiing in Edmonton like Gold Bar Park, and Capilano Park. But if you’re in the area for the festival, you can take to the two Hawrelak Park Trails. Both offer different difficulty levels, and a ton of winter exercise. The Inner Loop Trail is up to 2.6km around and is recommended for beginners. The Emily Murphy Link will take you over gentle terrain from the west end of Hawrelak to Emily Murphy Park.
This popular Edmonton sport can be enjoyed by all ages and skill levels, and you can prepare by renting yourself a pair at these Edmonton spots:
Snowshoe Around the Park
The flat land and gentle hills surrounding and within Hawrelak Park are perfect for snowshoes. Trek through the various art displays or follow along next to the cross-country ski trails. Snowshoeing around the Hawrelak Park pond will allow you to enjoy the music playing at the Park Pavilion- Silver Skate curated a playlist of local artists to showcase, so enjoy some tunes with your walk.
If this is your first time on snowshoes, or you’d just like to try before you buy, there are a couple of places in Edmonton with snowshoe rentals:
Compete in the 2021 Winterscapes Photo Contest
Grab the cameras, tripods, selfie-sticks, and ring lights! The 2021 Winterscapes Photo Contest is in search of the best-looking winter displays in the city. Simply snap photos of your favourite wintery and snowy scenery in and around Edmonton and submit via the site’s form. There are three categories in which to win: Winter Art, Winter Garden, and Winter Play. For your winterscapes, you are encouraged to get decorative and creative, and to only use snow, ice, and mostly natural materials. See previous entries here for a little inspiration.
Skate the Victoria Park Oval to Local Tunes
The Victoria Park Oval is a large recreational skating area right in the heart of downtown Edmonton, and just about a 10-minute drive from Hawrelak Park. Both skating areas will feature a soundtrack of local Edmonton musicians who pre-recorded some feature work to be showcased at the Festival. Victoria Park also offers a colourfully lit iceway for taking a quieter skate through the trees of the park (adjacent to the skating oval). Get the full list of musicians here, many of whom are on Spotify, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter.
Support Local with a Gift Bag and Date Night
The annual Silver Skate Festival always make a perfect date night. Between the winter sports like skating and snowshoeing, the scenic walks covered with art installations, other winter festivities around Edmonton, and the Valentine’s Surprise Bags, the Festival offers plenty of chances for romance. The Gift Bags are an especially sweet touch, as they come in different price points, and offer a collection of locally sourced goodies. Order your Gift Bag soon, as sales close February 9; your bag is available for pickup or delivery February 11-12.
Explore Heritage Village
Connect to the Indigenous history of Alberta in the Festival’s Heritage Village. This art installation is interactive, self-directed, and is a representation of “the four cardinal directions:” Maskwa Bear in the West; Ahasiw Crow in the South; Wihkaskwa Sweetgrass in the East; Kinosew Fish in the North; and it all centres around Iskotew Fire, in the centre.
Night Skyᐋᒋᒧᐃᐧᐣ Winter Stories
Stop and listen. While you walk along the colourful and snowy art installations of the Festival grounds, keep your ears open for the Night Sky Winter Story Series. This series of stories centres around surviving the winter months and comes to us courtesy of three local Indigenous Elders, and a group of talented sound engineers. The stories will also be available for download shortly.
Explore the River Valley Next to Hawrelak
This February in Edmonton calls for a lot of snow. This will make the River Valley a beautiful place to explore with the tall trees topped with snow, the frozen North Saskatchewan, and the various public art works throughout our city’s parks. The North Saskatchewan River wraps around the west side of Hawrelak Park, and can take any number of paths leading to the River.
Fill up at Culina on the Lake
After all of this winter activity, you’re probably going to be hungry. Culina on the Lake is a local café/restaurant who offer to go and pickup services for their tasty treats. Enjoy a filling brunch or lunch and pick it up on your way out of the park, or warm up next to the pond with one of their coffees and hot chocolates.
You can also rent a picnic site nearby for a private winter picnic and fire at Emily Murphy Park and Victoria Park.
By: Bernadette Gallagher