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Warm weather melts the best-laid plans of winter festival planners


The spring-like weather has been great for dog owners, but unfortunately, it's taking a toll on a few winter events, even in the mountains.

What once was an elaborate sculpture of a moose in a kayak has now been reduced to a melty mess that was an entry in Lake Louise’s Ice Magic Festival, cancelled due to inclement weather.

Organizers were a bit concerned last weekend when the seven-day forecast showed some above-seasonal temperatures in the forecast when the carving took place.

“But it ended up being a number of degrees warmer than it was even forecast,” said Kristina MacDonald, director of events for Banff and Lake Louise Tourism.

That made work extremely challenging for ice sculptor Andrew Zoller.

“I haven’t seen ice change that fast in the entire time I’ve been doing this,” Zoller said.

Designs have to be submitted way in advance though, so sculptors have had to plow ahead with their plans no matter how spindly.

“A bunch of pieces fell and took out half our sculpture,” said one competitor. ”Luckily, we had a lot of it remaining and it was still beautiful.”

Ice sculptures at Lake Louise melted due to unseasonably warm temperatures

Judging actually took place Sunday. The melting art pieces were pulled down Monday for safety.

It took Zoller 27 hours to make his sculpture but due to the melting, it broke right before judging and he didn't podium like he'd hoped.

He did win Edmonton's ice carving festival a couple of weekends ago.

“You’re signing up for an odd game when it comes to ice and weather,” said Zoller. “And you just have to go with the flow.”

Kristina MacDonald adopted a glass-is-half-full attitude toward it all.

“We’re happy we at least got one weekend out of it,” she said.

Guests hoping to catch the frozen creations this weekend are disappointed but happy there’s still some ice to enjoy in the mountains.

“I’m saddened that the weather melted the sculptures obviously,” said one visitor, Jerry Kalmakoff. “Would have been nice to see them as well today – but we still get the opportunity to skate. So at least the weather held out for the ice on the lake to be frozen.”

Unseasonably warm temperatures didn't melt the ice on Lake Louise, however

Very little is left frozen in Banff town site, which is in the final days of its snow festival.

“Going from – 40 at the beginning of our snow days festival to plus 10!” said David Matys, vice-president of destination development for Banff and Lake Louise Tourism.

But instead of focusing on the sad remnants of sculptures and slides created out of snow, they’ve shifted gears, expanding their street festival to include more music, a patio and kid’s crafts.

There's live entertainment, games, crafts and firepits with marshmallow roasting going on Saturday from  3 to 8 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.

“Obviously we’ve had a short time to adapt,” said Matys,” but we’ve looked to make a very family-friendly experience: fire pits, marshmallows. It’s a really great vibe on Bear Street, particularly in this beautiful weather.”


Meanwhile, back in Calgary, another event affected by the weather is Nitrocross, which was scheduled to hold racing events over snow and ice in Stampede Park Friday and Saturday. Because of the unseasonably warm weather, they’ve slammed the brakes on for a few days.

Nitrocross, which sold out GMC Stadium in Calgary in 2023, has been rescheduled to Sunday, Feb. 4, due to warm weather. (Photo courtesy

Now, the plan is to squeeze all the races into Sunday.

Doors will open at GMC Stadium Sunday at 3, with races running from 5 to 9 p.m.

Anyone with a two-day ticket will receive an automatic partial refund on Monday. Top Stories

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