Downtown Kingston’s winter carnival is back for its ninth year, and organizers have managed to jam each of the four days of Feb Fest with more cool attractions than ever before. From ice slides and public skating to sledge hockey, live music and a polar plunge, this year’s festival has something for everyone. Still need convincing? Read on for five reasons, in no particular order, to check out Feb Fest 2014.
1. Historic Hockey
One of the key features of every Feb Fest is its honouring of hockey’s roots. On Thursday evening at 7:30pm in the K-Rock Centre, the Carr-Harris Cup will be up for grabs once again. This annual hockey match pits the Queen’s and RMC hockey teams against each other for one of the most heated rivalries in the game today ($7). On Saturday at 7pm the two schools are back at it again, but this time they’re facing off in Springer Market Square for the 46th annual Historic Hockey Series, a celebration of the first game played in Kingston in 1886 (Free). Legendary Boston Bruins goalie Gerry “Cheesey” Cheevers will also be at Springer Market Square on Saturday from 12pm to 1pm and 2pm to 3pm to sign autographs (be sure to ask him how he got that nickname!).
2. Public Skating
Feb Fest isn’t just about being a spectator, of course. Dust off those old skates and head downtown for free public skating every day of the festival at Springer Market Square, one of the most beautiful settings for a skate in the country (Thursday: 9am-11:30am, 1pm-5:30pm, 7pm-10pm; Friday: 9am-10pm; Saturday: 5pm-6pm, 8:30pm-10pm; Sunday: 9am-12:30pm; 2pm-10pm). And don’t forget: on Saturday from 5pm to 6pm, you can skate with the Kingston Frontenacs. Go easy on the hip checks, though; the Fronts might go all the way this year.
3. Free Live Music
Another great reason to check out Feb Fest this year is the lineup of fantastic local bands playing the Market Street Stage. And other than the music itself, the best part about these outdoor concerts is that they’re free and you don’t even have to stop skating. Friday night’s country music headliner, Rudy & Saddle Up, should get you tapping your blades and grooving in your boots, while Saturday’s evening’s main attraction, The Roosevelts, a high-energy electric blues band, will have you gliding as smoothly as Paul Coffey.
4. Imagination on Ice
If figure skating is more to your liking than hockey, don’t worry—Feb Fest has you covered with Imagination on Ice, the festival’s annual figure skating showcase at Springer Market Square, this year happening on Sunday from 1pm to 2pm. But even if you’re a hockey fanatic, you might want to stick around for this because it features Battle of the Blades champions Amanda Evora and Scott Thornton, who played 17 years in the NHL. No word yet on the details of their performance but let’s hope it includes a triple twist and throw double lutz. When they let that twist fly on Battle of the Blades, guest judge David Pelletier called it “Olympic calibre.”
All of that skating, grooving and jaw-dropping might leave you a little hungry. If you just need a sugar kick, head to Confederation Park on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 3pm for maple candy demonstrations and tastings. But if you need something more substantial and want to warm up at the same time, head to one of the 17 restaurants participating in A Toast to Tapas. For just $9.95 on each day of the festival from 3pm to 6pm, you’ll get locally-sourced tapas paired with a glass of local wine or beer. Click here for a list of participating restaurants.
Visit febfestkingston.com for a full lineup of events.