Nov
21
2012
Volume
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Events Wood Buffalo

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Maybe you’ve just moved here or maybe you’re a local. Either way, winter is inescapable and the coming of winter in this town sometimes takes on mythic proportions. A highlight of winter in the Wood Buffalo region is the annual Syncrude winterPLAY Festival, one of Events Wood Buffalo’s four major festivals, which offers the community a wide variety of events, both indoor and outdoor. Going on annually for over five years, winterPLAY has grown from a two day event to a two week event for celebrating winter.

WinterPLAY means pond hockey, snowmobiling, skiing, and snowboarding. These are just a few of the activities that contribute to a strong winter culture here that comes alive each season with a sense of adventure as people in this region take on the cold mano-a-mano.

There’s nothing like playing shinny down on the crisp ice of the Snye or playing in a poker rally while snowmobiling on some of the best trails in Alberta. The Wood Buffalo region boasts some of the longest and most pristine snowmobile trails in the province. Who needs summer for softball? Not Fort McMurrayites, who play in the wildly popular Sno-Pitch Tournament with more than 2,500 registered players. Some might call them crazy but sliding onto first base in the snow looks pretty fun. For the annual Snowdown on the Snye, the local snowboarders build a colossal jam rail. Grabbing some air, jibbing and jamming on pipes and tires, these freestyle riders are fearless.

All the traditional winter activities are offered as part of winterPLAY but it’s not necessarily what you’d think a winter-based festival would be. Shows and performances take place in and around the community featuring music, theatre, and dance. There are plenty of family-oriented activities and events combined with more adult-geared performances like the typically raunchy and always hilarious Comedy Night. A new event making a comeback this year is Hockey Shorts & Puck Bunnies, a hockey-themed night of trash-talk, competition, film, and celebrities that shows off everything great about Canada’s favourite sport. Last year’s Winter Burlesque was a huge hit and 2013’s edition will be every bit as humourous and risqué. These ladies definitely won’t be wearing winter boots.

The upcoming 2013 Syncrude winterPLAY kicks off on Valentine’s Day with the Lover’s Bonfire and runs until February 24. Keep checking winterplay.ca for more details. Here we work hard and play hard, regardless of the weather!

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BREA BURTON

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