Charlottetown approves winter carnival spending

The City of Charlottetown will have a winter festival this year, but it will be a much smaller event than the Jack Frost Festival that filled hotel rooms for the last eight years.

"The key right off the bat here is that we don't compare it to Jack Frost," said Coun. David MacDonald.

"It's a different type of event than Jack Frost."

The three-day Jack Frost Festival was a big budget event, with snow sculptors brought in from Quebec to create large structures, major snow-making efforts and stage shows with characters from popular children's television shows.

It was organized by Tourism Charlottetown, costing about $500,000 a year. Last year it attracted 14,000 visitors. But Tourism Charlottetown regularly lost money on Jack Frost, and ultimately decided to get out of event planning all together.

No other group has stepped up to take over the festival.

On Monday night council voted to take the $15,000 it would have spent on Jack Frost and use it to create another winter festival in mid-February. This event will be free to the public, and spread out in venues around the city.

Coun. Stu MacFadyen, chair of the economic development committee, compares it to the New Year's in the Park festival the city has been running in Victoria Park for a number of years, with sleigh rides, skating and music offered in venues around the city.

"We hope to have activities for all ages," said MacFadyen.

MacFadyen said the city cannot hope to put on an event on the scale of Jack Frost on its own, but the return of that festival for 2014 remains a priority.

"It fills hotel rooms and it fills restaurants and it fills everything," he said.

"We have to have Jack Frost and we will have it. We'll work to try to find somebody to come forward and put that money in. No doubt about it."

More details on the city's 2013 festival will be released in early January.

For mobile device users:Are you looking forward to Charlottetown's winter festival in February?

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