Hamilton Winterfest is changing how people see the city and the winter season
Winterfest is a widespread event hosted by the city to chase away the winter blues
From Feb. 2 to 20, Hamilton is holding its annual Winterfest. This event is being hosted in partnership with Cobalt Connects, a company focused on promoting arts and culture in Hamilton in an effort to bring over 60 fun activities, including exhibitions to sports games, to the city.
Hamilton Winterfest originally started in the 1970s as a small community event organized by volunteers. Over the years, it has grown into a larger production and this year, the Winterfest Hub, where the some of the events will be run, will be located on the rooftop of Jackson Square. The Hub will be decorated with light installations, art and performances.
Jeremy Freiburger, who has been a producer of Winterfest for the past five years, is also a McMaster University alumnus. After his undergraduate studies, he attended the American Music and Dramatic Arts Academy in New York before returning to McMaster again and working at the Conservatory and the Hamilton Arts Council.
He has made a significant impact on the city’s arts and cultural scene as well through his work founding Cobalt Connect. Through Cobalt Connect, he and his team later created the Cotton Factory, a creative studio space for local artists and events. Cobalt Connect has also been a co-producer of Winterfest in recent years.
As producer, Freiburger’s role consists of supporting community organizations with whatever they need, including marketing, finance management and grant writing. Freiburger explained Winterfest stands out from other big festivals the city hosts because of how widespread it is.
“[Winterfest] is a festival that is across the city, so unlike things like Supercrawl or Festival of Friends that are in one site, we've got about 70 events that are in Dundas, Stoney Creek, up on the mountain down by the water . . . They're literally across the city,” said Freiburger.
So even if you don’t want to make the trek downtown, it is highly likely that there could be multiple events happening nearby or even right in your neighbourhood.
The art being exhibited this year at the Hub includes everything from curated pieces such as sculptures, to art installations in partnership with the Royal Botannical Gardens. Freiburger is excited about the art they’ve commissioned and to introduce new artists and unique works they’ve created this year. He hopes everyone who visits the festival walks away having had a good time and getting exposure to seeing a different, artistic side of the city.
“I hope [attendees] walk away with a great sense of optimism about downtown . . . People from across the city have an idea in their mind of what downtown [looks like] and I think events like this can help change that mindset. So I hope people walk away feeling really excited,” he said.
Freiburger wants students to know they’ve organized Winterfest this year for them to enjoy as well. With events like free concerts, dance classes, skating and more, the festival considered various events to include activities everyone could appreciate. Winterfest can be a great opportunity to spend time with loved ones while participating in fun activities made to help you appreciate the season.