Byzantine Winter Festival hopes to break another attendance record

Dave Carels/Global News

A prairie homestead has been added to the outdoor family fun at this weekend’s Deep Freeze: A Byzantine Winter Festival, in the Alberta Avenue neighbourhood.

“This year, we brought in a historic piece to Alberta Avenue,” artistic director Christy Moran said. “We are actually having a homestead prairie village. So people can come out and watch a blacksmith working [Tim Moreland], or you can see Naomi Pahl whose doing pickling and canning, or some weavers, some wood workers and just having more engagement with the community and the old homesteading movement.”

This is the 11th year for the festival, which Moran says will also have the usual signature pieces like deep freezer races, an aboriginal village, curling, pond skating, three-on-three hockey, knife and axe throwing, along with ice and snow carving.

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“Saturday, we celebrate the French-Canadian tradition on the Avenue, so you’ll see all things winter and a huge influence of the French-Canadian/French-African tradition. And on Sunday, we celebrate the Ukrainian New Year, so you will see a huge influence of performances and art that are all influenced by the Ukrainian culture.”

There will also be an Enoch Cree Nation Round Dance on Saturday night, inside the Alberta Avenue Community League with everyone welcome.

The winter festival set a new attendance record last year with 45,000 people, and Moran is sure this weekend’s warmer weather will help them do it again.

“I think we’re going to have 50,000 plus easily. The weather really dictates so much of the setup of our site. It held us back somewhat with the -35s, with the crews trying to keep warm and equipment breaking down. But this weekend, we know it’s going to be beautiful and I think everyone gets itchy feet to get outside and enjoy our warm sunny days.”

118 Avenue will be closed for the festival over the weekend, from 90-94 Street.

WATCH: Deep Freeze: A Byzantine Winter Festival 2018 about to get underway

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