A new festival in the Comox Valley promises to embrace winter through entertainment and other sorts of fun over the course of 16 days in January.
Dubbed WinterBites, the event combines concerts at various venues, an outdoor skating rink, ski package deals and minor hockey jamborees.
The festival kicks off Jan. 16 with a concert at the Filberg Centre featuring perennial Canadian act Chilliwack.
WinterBites is the first of a series of events in a tactical plan to help drive awareness, visitation and economic activity to the region, especially during the ‘shoulder season,’ as stated in Comox Valley Economic Development Society literature.
“WinterBites is a great example of what partnerships can create,” CVEDS executive director John Watson said Monday at Courtenay council.
CVEDS is partnering with Vancouver Island MusicFest, Mount Washington, the City and Comox Valley Minor Hockey. The latter will host three tournaments in January and early-February.
“I think that will perform a really neat anchor,” Watson said.
The musical lineup includes a West African dance night with Alpha Ya Ya Diallo, a ‘pianorama’ featuring Kenny (Blues Boss) Wayne and David Vest, and performances by Barney Bentall, the Grapes of Wrath, the Odds and Cape Breton fiddler Ashley MacIsaac. There will also be an acoustic blues doubleheader featuring Blind Boy Paxton and Suzie Vinnick. Venues include the Westerly Hotel, Crown Isle, the Filberg Centre and Native Sons Hall.
“We’re thrilled to be asked to take part in this,” MusicFest executive producer Doug Cox said. “We are targeting a baby boomer audience.”
Coun. Doug Hillian praised Cox for compiling an “amazing lineup,” recalling a past performance by Alpha Ya Ya Diallo.
Simms Park will be a designated ‘fun zone’ with outdoor skating on a synthetic ice rink created by BH Skating International. Watson noted difficulties associated with synthetic ice, namely the expense and the challenge of freezing things in the Comox Valley.
Hockey jamborees for various ages are scheduled for Jan. 18 and 19, Jan. 25 and 26, and Feb. 1 and 2.