Last night, we attended the Flying Canoe Adventure Walk and City of Light festival in Edmonton. It was a beautiful weekend to be outside, with the temperatures reaching +3 degrees Celsius. After having a cold couple of days where the temperatures dipped down to a chilly -42 degrees Celsius with windchill, this was a welcome spike.
Being a winter city, about half of our year has the potential to be snow covered and cold, there is a fair amount of time is put into implementing activities that citizens can participate in and encourage us to spend some of our time outside the warmth of our homes. The last 3 years saw the Winter Light festival, however that was not to be this year. The Flying Canoe Adventure Walk and City of Light festival was kind of an off-shoot of that, but with it’s own unique individuality. Combining French-Canadian and Aboriginal tales was the basis of this festival.
The wooded ravine was beautiful. There is already a natural beauty to the snow covered woods, especially at night, but to then add an assortment of lanterns to light the way… It’s a feeling of awe and hope and inspiration as you wander the woods, meeting the costumed players of the evening. There were men and women in their flying canoes, paddling along in their search for the City of Light while they shared their tale with passersby. There were also wolves to beware of, with their red glowing eyes and unrelenting howls. I shoved (playfully) my youngest daughter R toward one and let them know they could eat her instead of me!
A Metis camp was also housed in the ravine, where you could cook bannock over the fire, hear live music, and watch/learn different dances. When we first arrived, they were about to dance a jig, and later when we revisited the Metis camp, there was square dancing going on. The music was especially lovely. Following different paths, you came to different areas that were lit or housed fires where you could warm yourself. We made our way down the longest path, searching ourselves for the elusive City of Light. Up a hill we had to walk, my family uncertain if we were going the right way, but I insisted we press on. Finally we were out of the ravine and in a street, waiting for a wagon ride to take us to the City of Light.
The City of Light was located in the French quarter of town. Outside there was an ice slide for the kids to go down, once again a fire to warm yourself at, videos were being projected onto the building, music was going, and there were snow tables and chairs in which you could snap a photo. Inside, you could grab a hot chocolate, make a craft, and watch live performances. We watched some tap dancing before heading back down to the ravine once again.
We spent a good 3 hours at this festival. The weather was beautiful, the event was free, and I was very impressed with it overall. I like the fact that it was spread out, though not too far, and you had to travel to different areas of it. The different areas felt very distinct but still cohesive, still very much a part of the same festival. There was a lot to see and do, and it was good exercise – something we probably don’t always get enough of in the winter here. I will definitely be going back to this next year.
As we travelled home in our car, the sky dark, all of our hair and clothing smelling faintly like campfire, I felt relaxed and content. It was a perfect evening spent with my family. Time spent in our beautiful city, with the promise of our happy, quiet little spot in the beautiful country at the end of the night.