Get ready for the first festival of the year in Edmonton. From Jan. 21-22, Deep Freeze: A Byzantine Winter Festival is back home on Alberta Ave. 

Since the pandemic started, festival organizers have adapted festival events to ensure they adhered to health regulations. In the past few years, Borden Park has featured art installations and Edmontonians were able to appreciate the festival in a different light. But now, organizers are happy to bring the festival back to its roots. 

“This year’s festival will be similar to what it was like in 2020,” says Christy Morin, artistic director of the festival. She explains that while Borden Park was a good location, they don’t have the funding to hold the festival in two locations. 

Morin says organizers are bringing back festival classics, such as the Deep Freezer Races, horse and wagon rides, ice and snow sculptures, the giant ice slide, cultural dance, and fiddle music.

Organizers are bringing back festival favourites, like the Deep Freezer Races. | Epic Photography

“We loved Borden Park and all the beauty that the night sky brings! This year, we are thrilled to be back on The Ave to share live performances, public art interactions, and the glitter and wonder of the enchanted forest in winter,” says Morin.

“It’s exciting to bring back the spirit of the nostalgic Deep Freeze Festival,” says Donna Yateman, festival manager.

As always, Deep Freeze is going to continue to celebrate cultural diversity and the cultural roots of the Alberta Avenue District. Ukrainian, French Canadian, French African, Asian, Indigenous, and Latin American cultures will be highlighted during the weekend with food, dance, music, and art.

While there is always an Indigenous component to the festival, Yateman says they’d like to increase representation of Inuit people and showcase their culture.

Morin explains that while the original Deep Freeze requires a lot of volunteer power, coordination, and strategic production, it’s important to build community through artistic interaction for both the business and residents on the Avenue. It showcases the strong business district and depth of community in the neighbourhood.

“We’re pretty excited,” says Yateman. And with a theme of “The Enchanted Forest”, there will be plenty of fascinating art to see. Yateman adds, “I can’t wait to see the imagination and creativity the artists incorporate into our ice sculptures and the Lamppost Cozy Challenge.”

The festival food is also back, with events like the tourtière challenge, and a new perogy challenge that features both sweet, savoury, and wildcard varieties. 

“In the years gone by, it’s around the kitchen table where laughter, food, and fiddle music are shared and memories made. We are so excited to see the same happen at the Deep Freeze Festival,” says Morin.

Make sure you stop in the dining room at Alberta Avenue Community Centre to taste the Francophone offerings on Saturday and Ukrainian food on Sunday. Bannock and other treats will be available both days at the Pipon Indigenous Village.

Festivalgoers can also venture indoors to find food, galleries, workshops, and more. 

“Put on a toque, come volunteer and enjoy the winter festival; see you there!” says Morin.