Stephen Avenue aglow with winter lights

Capture the Moment: A festival goer records Shred Kelly’s set during the Glow Winter Festival in downtown Calgary on Feb. 15. The festival took place from Feb. 14 to Feb. 16 along Stephen Ave. in downtown Calgary. (Photo by Shelby Daughton/The Press)

Calgary isn’t known for winter festivals, but the Glow Winter Festival, organized by the Downtown Calgary Association, brought lights, music, and family fun to Stephen Ave. 

The outdoor festival was held from Feb. 14 to Feb. 16, 2020. 

The festival offered free entertainment such as musical performances, ice carving, a children’s train, and a large interactive Lite-Brite board. 

The festival also had fire pits and “warming igloos” to keep festival goers warm.  

Vicki and Gary Weslowski, from Red Deer, were pleased to stumble upon the festival while staying in Calgary on Saturday night. 

“We’ve been chatting all afternoon about how lucky we were that we just happened to be here on the weekend the Glow Winter Festival was on,” said Vicki Weslowski. 

The pair enjoyed themselves at the festival by looking at the lights and keeping warm by the fire pits. 

“Calgary knows how to have a really fun party, and get every age level involved, for sure,” said Vicki Weslowski. 

Shred Kelly, an energetic folk-rock band from Fernie, B.C., performed at the festival on Saturday night.  

The band was hired to perform two weeks before the festival, so they were unsure of what to expect. 

All Together Now: Folk-rock band Shred Kelly performs in front of a crowd during the Glow Winter Festival in downtown Calgary on Feb. 15. Shred Kelly are a five piece band from Fernie, B.C. (Photo by Shelby Daughton/The Press)

Sage McBride, vocalist and musician for Shred Kelly, was pleasantly surprised by the festival’s turnout. 

“It definitely exceeded all of our expectations, because we had no idea if people were going to show up,” said McBride. “We were pumped that there were so many people out on the streets and [that] the weather was nice.” 

McBride said that the band especially enjoyed the festival’s family-friendly nature. 

“We loved that it was an event where all ages could go, because a lot of times when we play in Calgary, we play at bars where it would be 18+ to get in,” said McBride. “It was really cool to see a lot of kids out, because we don’t often have kids in our audiences in Calgary.” 

McBride also noted that the festival staff were well-prepared for cold weather by having heaters on the stage.  

“Everyone stayed toasty during the performance, which is always nice for people playing guitars and string instruments because they can’t wear gloves,” said McBride.  

One of the other musical performances was William Close and The Earth Harp Collective. 

Suspended Focus: William Close plays the Earth Harp at the Glow Winter Festival in downtown Calgary on Feb. 15. The Earth Harp holds a world record for the world’s largest string instrument. (Photo by Shelby Daughton/The Press)

The Earth Harp, a large string instrument, was suspended above the crowd on a bridge. The illuminated strings of the harp extended out above the crowd and connected to the Galleria Trees on Stephen Ave. 

“For the Glow Festival, the whole sort-of canyon architecture, became part of the structure for the instrument,” said William Close inventor of the Earth Harp. 

Close explains that this allows the audience to be a part of the instrument.  

“When the audience is watching, and listening to it, they’re literally inside of this instrument,” said Close. 

 The Earth Harp has been played all over the world, including being attached to a skyscraper in Singapore, and the Colosseum in Rome. In 2012, they competed on America’s Got Talent, placing third. 

According to the William Close and Earth Harp Collective website, the Earth Harp holds the world record for “the longest playable stringed instrument on the planet.”

Close thought the festival was fantastic, and the organizers did a great job. He also noted Calgary was a city with great people, architecture and cultural awareness.  

Lite Up The Night: Ibrahim Ahmad, 4, and his sister Umar Ahmad, 3, play with the large Lite-Brite board at the Glow Winter Festival in downtown Calgary on Feb. 15. The Glow Winter Festival is organized by the Downtown Calgary Association. (Photo by Shelby Daughton/The Press)