Since its inception, Bloor-Yorkville Icefest has enticed approximately 500,000 visitors to the neighbourhood! An impressive number for an event that began in 2000, as a small ice sculpting contest at Bloor-Yorkville’s popular restaurant, Sassafraz.
Collaborating with the Bloor-Yorkville BIA, Sassafraz handed over the reins of the event, and in 2005 we had our first Bloor-Yorkville Icefest event. At the time, the event had an attendance of approximately 3,000 visitors. By 2009, the event grew with more sculptures added, bringing more visitors. A new record of approximately 15,000 people came to the icy event, and a road closure of Cumberland Street took place the following year.
Director of Marketing, Rick Kaczmarek helped grow the event to what it is today. “Icefest has evolved and now over 45 local businesses participate, in the event, with corporate sponsorships, ice sculpture sponsorships or by donating items for our draw held on-site at the event. We offer Kiddie Cubes, a Maple Taffy Station and an Icefest Lounge with DJ. The media has really embraced the Icefest, and we now attract over 35,000 people each year.”
Inspired by Heart Month and the Valentine’s Day season, a different theme is selected every year. This year’s theme is Medieval Times, and the neighbourhood is about to be transformed into a magical showcase of 70,000 lbs. of crystal clear ice, including an “11th Century Ice Castle with Knights on Guard” and a “Throne for Two,” Photo-Op Ice Sculpture.”
Keeping with the tradition of how Icefest began, the aptly-named “Sassafraz Ice Carving Competition” is held on the Saturday of the event. 12 carvers compete for the “People’s Choice” award, voted by visitors throughout the afternoon.
All Bloor-Yorkville events support charities and for Icefest, the BIA chose the Heart and Stroke Foundation to coincide with Heart Month in February. Icefest received the Heart & Soul Award from the Heart and Stroke Foundation, as a community-based program, for their commitment and loyalty in raising funds and awareness.
“Bloor-Yorkville Icefest is a one-of-a-kind event that takes place in the heart of the city. It’s a celebration of winter, where the whole family can come out and see ice carving demonstrations and displays that are themed each year,” said Mr. Kaczmarek. “We are proud that the event has become an anticipated event in the Toronto event calendar and at the same time, raised over $70,000 to date for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.”
Access to Icefest is free to the public, but the Bloor-Yorkville BIA encourages donations to support their fundraising efforts. Click here to donate today!