Winter Festival Season

February tends to be the month when Canadian towns, both big and small, celebrate with various winter festivals.  These celebrations have been historically important for communities to thumb their nose at the dark and cold for outdoor fun, games, and attractions.

It’s not any different for a city like Toronto.  Like all large cities, Toronto is actually made up of many small communities, each with their own personality.  This past weekend, the Yorkville area celebrated with their 5th annual Ice Fest.

It was my first.


All week the city had been basking in unseasonably warm temperatures – more reminiscent of April than February – but I worried about whether my first Ice Fest would be a bust.

I worried for nothing –  temperatures plummeted back into the freezing zone just in time for the artists to display their handiwork.


The theme for this year’s Ice Fest was Canada’s 150th Anniversary being celebrated this year.


There was a party atmosphere throughout this high-end ritzy neighbourhood.  Dance music was already blaring, food stalls were open, and crowds were starting to gather in spite of the early morning hour when I made my way downtown.



I found myself smiling happily – in spite of the cold wind.  I had zero expectations, and was wonderfully surprised.


Canada’s having a birthday party this year and you’re all invited.


  1. I love these things. One day, Imma go to one! I have a friend in Alberta who goes to several every year and I love her pictures as much as I love yours. Thanks for sharing!


  2. There are so many talented people in the world and in so many different fields. Ice sculptures seems to me to be about as difficulty as sand sculptures. Both are unbelievably detailed. Me? All I can do is take photos. (And I’m not looking for comments on that last statement so please don’t even bother.) 🙂


  3. Lovely, Joanne! Whodathunk we’d be worried about temps being too high for an ice sculpture festival in February?!?!?


  4. Wow. Magnificent ice sculptures, Joanne.I’m absolutely blown away. I had no idea had one of these. Huh. I thought only Quebec was famous for it. Well, I live and learn. Thanks for sharing. See, I learned another new thing today and it’s just a wee bit past eleven a.m. 😀 😀


  5. I wonder if the ice sculptors had been frost dancing on the lead up to the big day. I believe it’s similar to rain dancing, just more slipping over. Lovely post, Joanne, this sculptures are highly impressive. 🙂


  6. Now this was a nice surprise. I have seen sand sculptures but not ice ones – there are such clever people around. I thought Canada was older than 150 years, but there you go. Shows I know nothing about Canada! And your pancakes with the maple syrup jar has reminded me that it is Pancake Day here tomorrow (Shrove Tuesday) time to use up all those eggs and milk and what have you ready for Lent. 😀


  7. Yay for Canada! So much for us to celebrate. I love ice sculptures and so enjoyed seeing these. The moose is my top pick. It amazes me at the skill of the ice carvers to create such beauty out of a block of ice.


    • I was happy to see the moose too. They are so iconic for Canada, it would have been wrong to exclude it 🙂

      I’m still waiting for my National Parks passport to arrive. I’m hoping to get to 4 of the 5 parks in Ontario this year 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hey! You saw the sculptures without the crowds! You were there Sunday morning? I’m glad to see that the sculptures lasted overnight. I also heard that they looked great after dark since most of the sculptures are lit from behind. A lot of the smaller ones (on the east side of the park) were carved on site on Saturday between noon and 3. I was there on Saturday afternoon when they were just finishing up and it was quite crowded. I was going to post my pictures this evening but I’ve been too tired…. because we saw the sculptures under different circumstances (people vs people) are photos are quite different.


    • I was there Sunday morning. I like to head downtown early on Sunday mornings when it’s really quiet. I enjoy the peaceful streets and sometimes I feel like I practically have the city to myself.

      Yorkville was already buzzing when I got there. Since I rarely (ie never) go into Yorkville, in fact it might always be that busy. Just enough people to give a party atmosphere without feeling crowded and overwhelmed.

      A couple of the sculptures had actually been damaged. I don’t know when or how it happened. I didn’t think it was vandalism though, otherwise I would have expected to see a lot more damage.


    • Thanks Joe. I was rather proud of myself because this was the first time I went out and shot everything in ‘Manual’ mode. I figured it was time to graduate from ‘Auto’ mode.

      Afterwards, I got a commentary from Gilles on what I should have done, but overall I was quite happy and I guess it’s all part of the learning 🙂


    • I had heard once that artists – whether a painter, sculptor, musician, etc – are compelled to create. It’s inside them and needs to be expressed.
      For someone like me who doesn’t ‘get’ it, it looks like magic. Add in the temporary nature of sculpting with ice, and it elevates the magic 🙂


  9. Nice shots Joanne. Count me as another one fooled by those pancakes 😛
    These artists do amazing work. It was so cool to watch a number of them at work on their creations when we were in Ottawa a few weeks ago. And they do all this knowing full well that their art has a very limited lifespan.


    • The only thing I thought was missing was the results of the previous day’s judging. This was apparently a competition and it would have been nice to see who the winners were.

      Ice sculptures are a given in a winter carnival and I’m always amazed at the creativity that goes into some of the creations.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. The last one is so detailed. It takes so much time to make those, just to have them melt away. I always wondered why artists would do that. Once I asked a street artist, who draw 3-D paintings on the pavement why he “wasted” so much time. He looked at me and said, “You are smiling,” that means it wasn’t a waste. I will never forget that.


      • A customer asked me to reupholster and refinish 10 dinning room chairs before Christmas. It was one of those last minute deals they love to come up with.
        Only 9 fit in the truck when she picked them up, she had to pick up the last one the other day. That day a truck cut her off and the chair fell on the road and got damaged. She brought it back to me and I had to redo the same chair I just finished.
        I felt like crying.
        Yes, I could do ice sculptures, I would melt with them.


  11. These ice sculptures warm my heart. 💚 Seriously, all that artistic work and the masterpieces will melt away come spring. 😳 But these show a marvelous way to celebrate and live through the winter cold.


  12. Those are huge ice sculptures! How fun. I like the moose and the dragon (is it a dragon or a goose? or a goose-dragon?). Either way, I love it 😀 Thanks for the photos and Happy Birthday Canada!


    • I’m feeling pretty spry for my advanced years 😉

      Having come from the north, I was expected sculptures that were 6+ feet high. The majority of these were only about 3 feet high.

      Considering they bring in about 20,000 lbs of ice for this festival, I guess the size of the individual sculptures shouldn’t be a surprise.

      Liked by 1 person

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