Making a Winter Wonderland: A Q&A with the HarbourKIDS programmer

This long weekend, bundle up in your warmest woolies, tug on some boots, pack your skates and a thermos and come on down for the HarbourKIDS Skating Festival, running February 15 to 16. An annual Family Day celebration, the HarbourKIDS Skating Festival will be filled with lots of outdoor and indoor programming for kids and grown-ups alike. Want to know more about what’s in store? The festival programmer, Allison Cummings, tells us what to expect.

What is the HarbourKIDS Skating Festival?
The HarbourKIDS Skating Festival is a two-day celebration, taking place on Family Day weekend, featuring activities and performances for kids that explore the mid-winter season.

What’s in store for families?
You can expect a variety of programmed events that excite and challenge our perspective of regular winter fare. There will a be dance company called Le Patin Libre who use the ice as their stage, local contemporary artists on-hand to play and build in the snow with kids and an interactive installation called The ToyBox that uses technology to create a playroom like no other. There will also be many other winter activities that reimagine the snowy day as a time for the imagination to soar.

What makes the HarbourKIDS Skating Festival different from all the other stuff that’s happening this Family Day Weekend?
Well, first of all, everything programmed here is free for all! But more importantly, down here at Harbourfront Centre, the proximity to open water connects to the opening of the imagination. To be able to view vast sky and water while skating on the rink or as a back drop to a performance or even as a view out the window while you are engaged in creating a craft — kids can’t help but be inspired by the environment around them.

As a mom, what would you want your son to experience at this festival?
I would want my child to be opened to a new way of experiencing winter as a season and snow as a medium for art making. I would want him to be able to feel paramount in any activity as a participant as opposed to spectator. I would want him to listen to music that he hadn’t heard before and ask me about it later when we are home. I would want him to sit down at the craft tables and be encouraged to take ownership of the craft he’s being shown how to make. Most of all, I would want him to see the everyday in a whole new way.

Describe some of the programming you’re really excited about?
We’ve gathered four local artists of various disciplines (Joe Pagnan, Rodrigo Marti, Alison Keery and Shane Weaver) to spend the day building in the snow. All kids are invited to join and build with them together. I am excited about this because it is free form and anything can happen. Just like when you send kids out to play on their own — only this time they could be introduced to a whole new world and way of seeing snow. And I’m also looking forward to the performances by Orit Shimoni, a singer/songwriter and storyteller who has a created a new piece especially for HarbouKIDS Skating Festival called Winter Walls. It should be cozy and thought-provoking for both kids and parents alike.