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Friday, January 20, 2017

Icy adventures await to embrace the winter season

   One-Tank Trip for Jan. 14-17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   If you don’t want to trade your snowsuit for a swimsuit, then it’s time for some icy adventures.
   There’s the Fire and Ice Festival in Bracebridge, Icewine Festival in Niagara and an icy trail at Arrowhead Provincial Park.
   A shortage of snow last year certainly didn’t repeat for the winter festival in downtown Bracebridge on Jan. 28.
A tube run is created downtown for the Fire and Ice Festival in Bracebridge. (Explorers’ Edge)
   There’s “more than enough snow” to create the amazing tubing run, said Jordan Mulligan of Muskoka Tourism.
   At midweek, the town already had “up to four feet (122 centimetres) of snow, which has been amazing for our winter tourism,” he added.
   Even so, fest workers will bring in 50 truckloads of fresh, fluffy snow to make their epic tubing hill, he said.
   The festival had its debut last year and was a huge success as people took to Manitoba Street for wintry fun.
   Starting with a pancake breakfast at the fire hall at 8:30 a.m., the fest runs until 9 p.m. and “pays homage to the glory of a Canadian winter,” the Bracebridge Business Improvement Area says.
A frosty scene as an ice carver gets sprayed at the Bracebridge festival.
   The fire aspect is represented by fire pits with Muskoka chairs to offer warmth and campfire snacks and a professional fire eater and juggler.
   Ice includes the tube run, snowshoeing, a warming igloo, skating trail, fat bikes and demonstrations by Ice Cultures, transforming blocks of ice into works of art.
   There’s ice skating at the Memorial Park Winter Village, roasting marshmallows on outdoor fire pits, a road hockey tournament and winter magic shows and the “Fire Guy.”
   Disney Princesses Elsa and Anna from Frozen will attend and there will be scavenger hunts, giant board games and drop-in kids’ crafts.
   They’ll be serving up chili and hot dogs at the Senior Activity Centre and there’s a beer tent hosted by the Griffin pub, Muskoka Brewery and Banff Ice Vodka.
Examining a frozen sculpture at the festival in Bracebridge.
   Muskoka is a veteran when it comes to “celebrating” winter.
   “Every year, we welcome guests who join us to ski or snowshoe the trails, skate the ponds, climb the frozen waterfalls, take a tour through the forests by dog or horse sled and just savour the incredible beauty that is ours,” the BIA says.
   Souvenir button passes are $5 for adults and $3 for children, ages six to 12, with free admission for children five and younger.
   Overnight accommodation winter packages are available throughout the town and nearby. www.fireandicebracebridge.com; (705) 646-5590

   Clink, clink toasts
   Sip and savour as the Niagara Icewine Festival pays tribute to the sweet, frozen nectar of the vine.
   Marking its 22nd year, there are “three weekends of globally sought-after Icewine experiences,” said Kimberly Hundertmark of the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival.
Vidal grapes frozen on the vine are destined to become Icewine. (Jim Fox photo)
   “From stunning formal affairs to outdoor ice village settings and wineries setting the stage with incredible culinary and Icewine delights, Niagara is the place to explore your senses,” she added.
   A popular pastime is exploring the Niagara Wine Route with a Discovery Pass ($40).
   This tasting program runs Fridays through Sundays now and on the next two weekends.
   It allows visitors to experience eight wine and culinary pairings from 38 wineries.
Sip and savour some Icewine along the Niagara Wine Route. (Niagara Grape and Wine Festival)
   Local chefs work with winery partners to create tasting experiences that are sweet, savoury and spicy – from hearty chili and savoury soups to sweet treats paired with VQA Icewines and tables wines. niagarawinefestival.com; (905) 688-0212

   Happy trails
   There’s more fire and ice at Arrowhead Provincial Park, north of Huntsville, along its 1.5-kilometre ice trail “amidst towering, snow-dusted trees” winding through the East River campground.
Torchlight skating is offered on the ice trail at Arrowhead Provincial Park.
   The park is open for winter activities through March 27including overnight stays in cabins and 30 kilometres of Nordic ski trails.
   Fire and Ice Nights are torchlight skating, weather permitting, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. tonight and on Jan. 26; Feb. 4, 18 and 19; and March 4 and 9. explorersedge.ca/the-ice-trail-at-arrowhead-provincial-park; (705) 789-5105


Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca

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