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Calgary unveils new six-week winter festival slated to begin January 2021

A file shot of the 2020 GLOW Winter Festival.
A file shot of the 2020 GLOW Winter Festival. GLOW Winter Festival

The City of Calgary announced a new event Monday to help boost the local tourism sector amid the city’s colder months.

In partnership with 55 community organizations from the arts, non-profit, tourism and sports sectors, the city will be hosting its first-ever six-week winter festival.

The Chinook Blast will premiere in the city starting mid-January 2021 and will run until the end of February.

“Chinook Blast is our way of putting a stamp on the winter weather as a badge of pride,” Mayor Naheed Nenshi said.

“These six weeks are going to be something special, whether you’re from here or coming to experience the best of Calgary in the winter.”

Read more: Calgary’s Stephen Avenue to light up with 2020 GLOW Winter Festival

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The festival will work to highlight the best attractions and programming the city has to offer, while transforming venues in downtown Calgary to host new and existing events for all residents and visitors to enjoy, officials said.

“Downtown is the perfect backdrop for Calgarians, local business and visitors to gather in celebration of our winter city,” general manager of the Calgary Downtown Association Jennifer Rempel said.

“Chinook Blast will help drive support for our local businesses and keep Calgary’s creative spirit thriving into the future.”

Officials said winter usually brings with it a downturn in the city’s tourism sector and hope this festival will drive more residents and visitors alike to attend Calgary’s many events and attractions during its colder months.

Click to play video 'Major Calgary events postponed or in jeopardy due to COVID-19 crisis' Major Calgary events postponed or in jeopardy due to COVID-19 crisis
Major Calgary events postponed or in jeopardy due to COVID-19 crisis – Mar 31, 2020

The announcement comes after many events in the city were cancelled or postponed this summer due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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Since the city hit pause on these events, officials said residents have looked to the arts sector as a source of escape and entertainment. President and CEO of Calgary Arts Development Patti Pon said she hopes Calgarians will continue this trend into the new year.

“Research shows that 93 per cent of Calgarians engage with the arts in one way or another, and that was pre-COVID[-19],” Pon said.

“We also know people are really leaning on the arts during the pandemic, whether it’s picking up that dusty old guitar or attending an online concert.

“Chinook Blast is something we all need — a great opportunity to participate in a festival of arts and sports programming in a safe way in the heart of downtown.”

Read more: 2020 Calgary Stampede cancelled for first time in over 100 years amid COVID-19

Officials noted the ongoing pandemic has heavily impacted Calgary’s tourism sector and hope this new festival will help kick-start the industry in the new year. However, as uncertainties surrounding the novel coronavirus continue, officials said the festival will be adjusted accordingly to accommodate any health and safety measures needed in the new year.

“When it’s safe for us to gather again and we launch Chinook Blast, it will be a fantastic opportunity for Calgarians to invite their friends and family to our great city to participate in Calgary’s winter cultural showpieces,” Tourism Calgary CEO Cindy Ady said.

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