Edmonton Hosts Popular Winter Canadian Festivals in February: Birkebeiner Cross Country Ski and Silver Skate Festivals

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Festival City embraces winter sports with two February festivals offering fun for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages

“This year we’re very proud to be hosting three international snow sculpting teams from Argentina and Africa,” says Edmonton Festival Producer, Ritchie Velthuis.

Two annual Canadian festivals make Edmonton, Alberta the perfect destination for winter fun. The 22nd annual Birkebeiner Cross Country Ski Festival glides into action February 12 and 13. The festival’s spirit of skiing for the pure joy of it includes the Birkie’s legendary race events including the 31 K, a 55 K, and the 13 kilometre ‘Mini Birkie.’ For the kids, there’s a special Ole’s Tour, which includes a winter wonderland 2.5 K and 4 K.

Birkie-ites ski through three parks including Cooking Lake/Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area with 85 km of ski trails, making this experience a popular winter Festival City event. The Birkie is a rare opportunity to ski point-to-point through this park as well as through the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village and also along the east edge of Elk Island National Park enjoying hot chocolate, cookies, and soup at points throughout the course.

Prizes are awarded at Saturday night’s après-ski Vikings’ Feast Banquet at the Holiday Inn Convention Centre. As well as honouring winners from the day’s races, a special award will be given to all those who have accomplished the admirable feat of skiing the Birkie in Canada, the U.S. and Norway.

Warming Edmonton with more winter magic is the 20th Anniversary of the Silver Skate Festival, February 19 and 20. Close to 20,000 visitors will enjoy Edmonton sports, arts, and nature in Hawrelak Park, with festivities ranging from skating, skiing, snowshoeing, to snow sculpting and more. “This year we’re very proud to be hosting three international snow sculpting teams from Argentina and Africa,” says Edmonton Festival Producer, Ritchie Velthuis. The public is encouraged to sculpt their own imaginative works from blocks of ice and materials provided.    

This year’s Silver Skate magic includes Night Works, a giant outdoor movie screen made of snow. Also on ice is “24 Hours to Ignition”, a spectacular snow sculpting event wherein finished works are set on fire. The fire dancers, Vibe Tribe, will heat up activities.

Race events include a 20 K, a 10 K, and a Dutch sprint race. Members of the Edmonton, Alberta Speed Skating Association will help kids learn to skate on Saturday, and skates, skis and snowshoe rentals are free through the weekend.

For more information on the Canadian Birkebeiner Cross Country Ski Festival, February 12 – 13, 2010 at Cooking Lake/Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area, with Registration deadline of February 10, visit http://www.canadianbirkie.com/ or for the Silver Skate Festival, February 19 – 21, 2010, Hawrelak Park with Opening Ceremonies Friday, February 19 at 3:30 p.m., visit http://www.silverskatefestival.org/.

About Edmonton Tourism
Edmonton Tourism promotes Greater Edmonton as the destination of choice for tourism, conventions, major events and film production and is a division of Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC).

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Jenifer Christenson
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