Stripping down to one’s skivvies and plunging through a hole in the ice of a frigid Alberta lake may not be an idea everyone can warm up to. But that’s likely why Sylvan Lake’s Winterfest Polar Bear Dip is such a crowd-pleaser.
“Hundreds come to watch,” says Olivia Knight, marketing coordinator for the central Alberta town just west of Red Deer that’s better known as a summer playground. “In fact, it’s the festival’s biggest spectator event.” The big dip is also for a good cause, with up to 50 warm-hearted souls raising funds for jumps on behalf of local charities each year.
As for non-swimmers who want to leap into the fray with more decorum, there’s always the winterfest’s human curling (bodies in tires stand in for the usual rocks); free sleigh rides; skating; a pond-hockey tournament (64 teams from across Alberta); lots of hot chocolate to imbibe — and indoor swimming at the local aquatic centre.
Family Day Weekend, February 14 to 16; 403-887-1192 (ext. 504); http://www.town.sylvan-lake.ab.ca