To those of us in Fredericton, winter is nothing new. Try as we might, kicking and screaming for it to go away, it comes every year just the same. While it’s tempting to stay inside and curl up with the new season of whatever on Netflix, here’s a suggestion of something you can do instead: how about checking out Fredericton FROSTival? It’s Atlantic Canada’s largest winter celebration and saying that it has something for everyone is no exaggeration.
FROSTival began in the winter of 2013, when it was named by Reader’s Digest as one of Canada’s top ten festivals to watch. Since then, it has continued to grow every year, with over 100 events being included in the programming for 2015. “The concept for FROSTival came up about five years ago,” says Stacey Russell, Tourism Coordinator at Fredericton Tourism. “It was started as a partnership between Winterfesthiver and Fredericton Tourism to develop a winter project around Fredericton’s winter festivals as well as to create some critical mass and encourage visitation during the winter months.”
So what can one expect to find in Fredericton during FROSTival?
If live music is your thing, you’re in luck: between the Shivering Songs Music Festival and a wide variety of offerings at various venues in town, you’ll find something to satisfy your tastes. Not to be missed is Newfoundland folk-rock group Hey Rosetta!, playing Thursday, January 29th at the Playhouse. Enjoying the success of their most recent album Second Sight, Hey Rosetta! is going to fill the Playhouse with their unique sound of emotional string movements, upbeat synth tracks, and Tim Baker’s lyrical storytelling. The show begins at 7:30pm with Museum Pieces as the opening act.
If you consider yourself a foodie, you’ll want to check out Dine Around Freddy, happening this year during FROSTival! From January 23 – February 7, ten restaurants in Fredericton will feature special three-course menus for only $29+tax. In past years, Fredericton’s chefs have really outdone themselves with creating unique menus, and this year is no exception – TenResto is featuring bison meatballs with a blueberry sauce. Dine Around Freddy is also partnered with the Fredericton Food Bank and so a portion of the funds from every meal purchased will be donated to the food bank. Not only do you get to enjoy good food, but you also get to feel good about yourself, too.
If you’re missing long summer nights spent around the campfire, why not bundle up in your warmest coat (and hat and mittens and scarf and long underwear) and head to Officers’ Square every Saturday evening during FROSTival for a free campfire sing-along? Local musicians will be on hand to play some tunes, and take requests, and hot chocolate and snacks will be available by donation. The first performance of the series will be a special appearance by Owen Steel as part of Shivering Songs on January 24th from 5-6:30pm.
This year, the final weekend of FROSTival coincides with Valentine’s Day, and there are plenty of exciting dates to be enjoyed with your sweetheart. The Beaverbrook Art Gallery is hosting a series of Art Lover’s Tours, where you can get an intimate look at the gallery’s collection with docent Gerry Rymes. If you’re looking for a more outdoorsy date, the Mactaquac Provinical Park is hosting a Valentine’s Day skate with s’mores around the campfire. For an even more outdoorsy date, the Radical Edge is hosting a Silent Night Snowshoe Hike in the UNB Woodlot. Bring your own snowshoes or rent them ahead of time at the Radical Edge, downtown, at 386 Queen Street. Headlamps are strongly encouraged!
On a budget? Never fear – FROSTival has tons of great deals and free programming to get you through the winter. “The great thing is there’s something for everyone and a lot of free activities; it’s great for all ages and demographics,” says Russell. “This year we’ve got some new events and we’ve partnered with Shivering Songs for the first campfire sing-along. It’s really not a very expensive weekend when a lot of events are free of charge.”
No matter your interests, you’ll find something to do during Fredericton FROSTival. You can check out the full calendar of events on their website, where you’ll also find the exclusive menus for Dine Around Freddy, accommodations deals for the duration of the festival, and the full roster of nightlife programming taking place around the city.