Chinook Blast returns in 2023: New spectacles and old favourites
Annila Baigzada, Contributor
Now that the stressful Christmas holidays are over, many people have found themselves flying back home to Calgary or beginning to settle in for the new year. But if you are seeking a couple of nights of celebration and fun, Chinook Blast offers something to look forward to for the remaining winter months.
Chinook blast is set to return from Jan. 27 to Feb. 12 and aims to bring an array of new spectacles as well as old favourites from past years of the festival.
Initially an idea from November 2019, Chinook Blast hopes to gather people from Calgary during the cold winter months. Their goal is to introduce enjoyable winter experiences and expose Calgarians to sports, recreation, art and other offerings that Calgary provides.
The celebration will showcase live performances, music, art exhibitions, installations and other attractions the heart of Calgary has to offer. This year, the third annual winter celebration takes place in various parts of downtown Calgary.
Executive Director of Chinook Blast Franca Gualtieri, adds, “we want it to not only be in the hub of downtown, we want it to hit all the corners of our city that [becomes] our winter festival, just like we have a very iconic summer festival.”
The two-week event brings different organizations together to show off the best in the city while providing families, citizens, tourists and artists the opportunity to showcase and enjoy the winter season.
“Last year, we hired over 500 artists, local artists, for showcasing their very best, right in the City of Calgary in the heart of downtown,” said Gualtieri.
Many attractions, such as pop-up art, lights, displays and events will be taking place during this time. A new addition to the festival is the Nitro Rallycross. The electric car racing event will feature competitors going head to head at Stampede Park on Feb. 4-5.
Chinook Blast also adds emphasis on the night market happening on the weekends along with its popular displays and anchors from 2022.
Some iconic events from last year that you can expect to see this new year include the High-Performance Rodeo, BIG Winter Classic, Snow Rodeo and more.
This year will be the first year the festival will open in a post-pandemic world.
“We actually launched during a lockdown of a pandemic, we had over 1000 people come downtown,” Gualtieri noted.
This year, she’s excited to leave the lockdown behind. “It’s our first year that we’re able to actually have the lineup that was originally envisioned.”
To ensure a safe and healthy return, the Chinook Blast team has taken specific and appropriate precautions regarding COVID-19 since they launched in 2019.
“We work with the City of Calgary and Alberta Health Services, so safety is always our main caution,” Gualtieri says.
She also adds “a majority of our programming is outdoors, which provides for ample space and that comfort level of not being indoors.”
As for the future, Chinook Blast plans to grow bigger and extend throughout all of Calgary to increase diversity and an inclusive lineup. New events will be introduced which will attract people every year.
“In 2024, Chinook Blast will also be happening around the time of the Special Olympics as well as the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, an annual women’s curling championship,” says Gualtieri.
Gualtieri and her team aims to make “Calgary a destination of choice” for Calgarians and travelers alike.