If you are ever in Golden over the Alberta Family Day weekend (February 13-15, 2016) you are definitely in luck. In addition to the promise of always-amazing outdoor adventure and winter fun, your timing is perfect to experience Golden’s wildly unique – and uniquely Golden -- winter festival.
The main event for the Snow King’s Masque Parade happens Saturday night in downtown Spirit Square, where the Snow King and Lady Spring (giant-sized paper-maché puppets – and I do mean giant-sized) take their annual promenade down from the mountain along a torch-lit route into Spirit Square to kick off a splendid night of pageantry and celebratory festivities. The festival is part pageant, part performance, part street party. But know that even the pageant part is very much a spectacle performance loved by all. Trust me, nobody is too old or too young to enjoy this party.
Any imagination of life-sized (and larger than life-sized) puppets, masks, lanterns and other creative forms make their appearance at the Masque Parade, as community members spend weeks and weeks designing and building and their inspired ‘Take your Beat to the Street’ creations at the Snow King’s pre-festival playhouse (open, by the way, to everyone).
Performance highlights always include Golden’s own home-grown circus troupe, the A-Muse Troupe, so expect to see stilt walking, juggling, fire-spinning and all kinds of other fun stuff most normal people can’t do. Top that off with great music, ice carving, dancing, other performances, always-entertaining pageant, and you’ve got yourself the Snow King’s Masque Parade winter festival and street party.
This year is the tenth year for the celebration, which has grown steadily since its inception. You can expect an audience of over 1000 people, including a crew of volunteers and participants. Not that it’s even the kind of festival that easily separates out audience from participant. It’s fully an ‘everybody comes together to enjoy the celebration’ kind of event. The Masque Parade has even become a destination weekend, with some families choosing the Alberta Family Day weekend to come to Golden precisely for this fun and wacky festival.
Yes, it’s definitely worth checking out. If you’re interested in coming out to this year’s event, here are a couple of things to know.
- The event starts at 6:45 on Saturday night (February 13) in Spirit Square. Plan to get there a bit early if you want to be assured a good view of all the action. Remember to dress warmly as it is an outdoor event. And don’t forget your camera!
- Going out for dinner before – or drinks and dessert after – is a popular thing to do on the night of the Masque Parade and makes for a super-fun family night out. We have learned from experience that it’s a good idea to make reservations, as the restaurants do tend to be quite busy the night of the festival. Our favourite restaurants within spitting distance of Spirit Square are the Island Restaurant and the Whitetooth Bistro. The Rockwater and Taps are also excellent – they are bars but have full menus with tasty food and allow kids until a certain time.
If you happen to be in Golden prior to the Masque Parade weekend, think about dropping by the Snow King’s Play House (located this year at the Golden Civic Centre) and becoming a part of the creative action. The Play House is open both weekends before the main event – including the BC Family Day Monday – and is open to all.
See you at the party!