News / Edmonton

Warm weather could mean less action at Edmonton's Ice on Whyte winter festival

The continuing January thaw may be making puddles of the ice and snow around town, but organizers at the city’s premier winter festival aren’t sweating it.

“Everything goes ahead according to plan,” said Ice on Whyte festival producer Wanda Bornn, who is putting final touches on the End of Steel Park in Old Strathcona before the festival opens Friday at 2 p.m. “There’s tons to do, whatever the weather.”

Festival artistic director and carving competition judge Delayne Corbett is less welcoming of the balmy weather.

“The sun just burns through the ice—if it’s above zero and overcast, that’s okay. But perfect conditions are about minus 5 and cloudy,” said Corbett. “We can build snow blocks for shade and work after dark and through the night, but ideally there would be a lot more shade trees in the park, and colder temperatures. Come on— it’s January in Edmonton.”

Bornn said the artists will likely be carving at night, an idea carver Sandis Kondrats doesn’t relish. “These are dangerous tools—I’ve cut my head with a chain saw and been in hospital more than once, so you don’t want to be carving when you’re tired,” he said.

Ice on Whyte's best attendance has been about 62,000 in one of its past 12 editions.  Producers say more people attend when the weather is warm.

The Ice Carving Competition runs this weekend, with eight international teams competing for top honours. About 550 blocks of clear ice are shipped from an Ontario manufacturing plant for the event.

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