The Ice Castles Are Here!

I don’t know about you, but ever since I heard that they were being built at Parks Canada Place on the Forks Historic Site, I’ve been excited to see the Ice Castles! Any trip to the Forks for the past month has involved me walking or biking past the fenced-off area, watching the castles grow as if by magic.

Finally, after much anticipation, the Ice Castles will open to the public on Friday, January 5th, and I got to have a sneak preview last night, along with my media, travel and tourism pals!

First off, let me say that it was a brisk -35°C with the wind-chill. I bundled up with thermal layers, massive cozy scarf, my favourite Hudson’s Bay toque, alpaca wool socks and some warm boots.  The “floor” of the Ice Castles is made of layers of ice and ice chips – which is much like walking on coarse gravel – so good, flat-soled boots are recommended.

Just approaching the Ice Castles at night is breath-taking.  I hadn’t even walked up to the entrance and was already snapping pictures of the towering ice walls, glowing with colour-changing LED lights.

As I entered, I was greeted by a couple of popular enchanted Ice Princesses.  The Ice Princesses will be greeting guests on Saturdays and Sundays between 1 to 4pm, weather permitting.

The most beautiful and adorable Polar Bears and Polar Bear cubs, painted by our own amazing Kal Barteski, are dotted  throughout the Castle walls and corridors.


There’s something so wonderful about watching a fire dancer with a backdrop of ice!  The fire twirler last night was as funny as he was talented, keeping up a running banter as he twirled, getting the audience involved in his act. On Friday and Saturday evenings, from 7 to 10pm, there will be fire performances.

What would an Ice Castle be without ice slides?  Young and old(er) alike will delight in whooshing though the icy chutes on magic carpets. So FUN!

My favourite feature was the colour-changing ice fountain.  I was mesmerized as the water danced and changed colours from dark red, to purple to pale blue, accompanied by music.

I had the chance to talk to Blake, who is the Site Manager of the Ice Castles. It’s really an amazing process where icicles are made and then hand-placed in location. The icicles are then sprayed with water to make the ice-walls and other structures grow.  The ice artists were able to start on building the structure at the beginning of December, working daily to grow icicles and create the astounding Narnia-esque structures.

Probably what I loved the most about the Ice Castles was how beautifully they frame two of Downtown Winnipeg’s iconic structures, the Esplanade Riel bridge and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.  Both lovely in their own right, they made a glorious backdrop to photos taken from within the Castles.

The Ice Castles will open officially on Friday, January 5,  from 4 to 9pm.  They will be open during the day on Saturdays from 12:00 to 10:30pm and Sundays from 12 to 8pm. They’re also open weekday evenings on Monday and Wednesday through Thursday from 4 – 9pm.  They will be closed on Tuesdays.  For more information, and to purchase your tickets, check out their website:

Until next time,



So…how’s that resolution going?

photo c/o The Fairmont Winnipeg

So you New Year’s resolution was to up your fitness game in 2015. I’m not here to comment on the originality of your resolution, but I am going to ask us all to be honest with ourselves and each other for one moment here.

How’s that working out for you?

I hope you’re reading this before you’ve completely exchanged your runners for fuzzy slippers and your water bottle for a wine glass bottle and your towel for a cozy blanket and the comfiest spot on the couch to hibernate until the snow melts and the puddles evaporate. Why? Because it’s not impossible! You can do this. You wanted to and you are going to! And here’s how.

The Fairmont Winnipeg Health Club

Maybe the incentive you need is a little luxury. This space is beautiful, clean, quiet and features all the workout equipment you need to tone-up…waaayyyy up – with a view of the iconic Portage and Main and The Forks heritage site from the top floor of the downtown hotel. Also take advantage of the 12-metre saltwater pool and hot tub, and unwind in the eucalyptus steam room for a bit to ease those hard-working muscles – all this for $65/month. Bonus: The Fairmont is connected to Winnipeg Square, so you might not even have to set foot outside to get there.

Walk the walkways

Maybe all you really need is to throw a pair of sneakers in your bag and take to the indoor walkways over your lunch hour. Did you know there’s over 2km of indoor walkways available for the trekking? This option is completely free and weather protected – no excuses! Just download a cool podcast and pop in your headphones – or better yet, grab your cubicle neighbour and get walking!

It’s fun to stay at the…

The YMCA, yes. Bonus points to me if I got you grooving in your seat just now with the mere mention of that one! The Downtown YMCA (301 Vaughan St.) offers all kinds of classes from Tae Kwon Do to adult learn to swim, to TRX to volleyball. And of course if you prefer to just hunker down and work out all by yourself, you can do that too. There are many membership options ranging from $45/month for adults to $79/month for your whole family.

Skate the Red River Mutual Trail at The Forks

The frozen river in the winter opens up a ton of active transportation and recreation options! Could you walk, skate, ski or snowshoe to work on the river? I say take advantage of that shortcut before it melts away for another year. Otherwise, hop the Downtown Spirit bus to The Forks after work, bring your skates (or rent a pair there for $5) and get your cheeks rosy and your heart rate up by skating the 2.5km of river trail! Bonus: free, family fun!

Power Plate training at Yoga Public

This brand new technology is the latest and greatest in getting an optimal workout in the absolute least amount of time possible. The vibrations of the Power Plate invigorate your muscles and get your blood pumping faster and harder than your body could on its own in the same amount of time, helping you to achieve a more worthwhile workout in less time. Yoga Public offers private, 30-minute Power Plate sessions, beginning at $99 for your first three sessions. Give it a shot – let me know how you like it!

What’s your trick for keeping on track? I’m sure we could all use a little inspiration from one another. Keep up the good work, friends! 🙂