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    Categories: Entertainment

New Year’s kicks off new winter festival

Massive tents are transforming Sir Winston Churchill Square into winter-fest central.

Events Edmonton’s well orchestrated New Year’s Eve celebrations at Sir Winston Churchill Square is not only one of the city’s biggest winter festivals; the new year festivities will also kick-off Metropolis, a new winter festival that will run every weekend from Dec. 31 to the Family Day weekend in mid-February.

“The city wants to program a festival at the square all year round. Although there are winter festivals in different areas of Edmonton, there wasn’t anything downtown,” says Events Edmonton director Giuseppe Albi. “With winter events going on for eight weekends, you can pick and choose any number of different experiences.”

Four temporary, freestanding pavilions will provide food, a beer gardens, a kids’ area and entertainment. Ringing in the new year is a 12-minute fireworks display.

“We had been doing the festival for over 10 years and it was always weather dependent. A couple of years ago the mayor challenged us to do something with it after the square was developed,” says Albi.

“I came up with the idea of a geodesic dome, but it was a no go.”

Inspired by logos projected onto big tents at the Vancouver Olympics, Albi returned to Edmonton and tapped into his network of contacts in the construction industry.

Aluma Systems developed the four temporary pavilions devised specifically for cold climates. The tallest is 70 feet at its peak.

“They’re like giant open tents where you replace the supporting steel with scaffolding. The shrink wrap is wrapped around the scaffolding like a skin to contain the heat.”

Starting at 6 p.m., the Community Centre Pavilion features an eclectic mix with Breath in Poets; cellist Martin Johann Kloppers; circus performers Firefly; hip hoppers Rhythm Speaks; and Booming Tree, Japanese Taiko drummers.

The Children’s Pavilion is slated to showcase Ukrainian folk tales, dragon dancing, shadow puppets, music and craft activities.

Tantalizing food samplers from 10 Edmonton restaurants are available at the Taste of Winter Pavilion with accompanying drinks at the Polar Beer Brewhouse.

In addition to the square, the pyramid shaped city hall plays offers a platform to emerging artists including three St. Albert singers – country singer Daylin Jorgensen and pop-rock duo Stephen Lecky and Jessy Mossop.

Mossop and Lecky, known for their upbeat harmonies and electric stage chemistry, plan a series of originals and medleys of major hits.

“Come down for the experience and have a great time. We can do the countdown together,” says Mossop.

Festival info is available at www.metropolisededmonton.ca.

St. Albert Transit has extended its service until Sunday morning at 2 a.m. Rides will be free on Saturday after 4 p.m. For a complete schedule visit www.ridestat.ca.

Anna Borowiecki: Anna Borowiecki joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2000. She reports on local people and events in the arts, entertainment and food industry. She also writes general news and features.