Winterfest History

Started by a group of intrepid community-builders, Winterfest was established as a community-led program. Neighbourhood groups, schools, arts organizations and City of Hamilton facilities created programming aimed at bringing residents out of their homes during the frosty days of February.

For more than 40 years the City of Hamilton played the role of facilitating the festival, providing collective marketing and anchor programming.

With a growing community and increased demand for engaging cultural and recreation offerings in the winter, the City of Hamilton engaged Cobalt Connects, a well know local arts service organization, to lead the management and growth of Winterfest. We aim to enhance local efforts, while building Winterfest into Hamilton’s signature snowy festival.

Last year the festival attracted over 32,000 guests to more than 100 events across the city. In 2020, Cobalt Connects focused on refining its programming offerings by developing the Winterfest Hub, and boosted the marketing effort of the festival by publishing the Hamilton Winterfest Magazine.

Winterfest Community Activities

Over 50 community-led and City facility activities make up the Community Activity component of Winterfest, making it a truly city-wide and accessible program. These activities range from author readings with the Hamilton Public Library to 360-degree park sculpture tours, city wide colouring contests to online live concerts and performances. This year brings a unique selection of all virtual programming to keep you safe and active from the comforts of your home.

The vast majority of these programs are volunteer-led, and are supported by Winterfest through collective marketing, small grants, and unified love for all this city has to offer. A special thank you for all those this year who flexed their creativity to ensure unique virtual activities for all ages!

Winterfest & Cobalt Connects

Winterfest is co-produced by the City of Hamilton and Cobalt Connects. The City provides core funding to support the community activities, while Cobalt Connects acts as the festival development, programming and marketing leadership.

Cobalt Connects is a non-profit arts service organization. Cobalt Connects was initially created to address the need for affordable artist studios and cultural spaces, but has grown over the past seventeen years into a dynamic organization with expertise in cultural programming, event management and municipal cultural planning and research.

We are excited to bring our knowledge of the Hamilton community and experience in developing engaging, community-driven events to the Hamilton Winterfest Celebration.

Hamilton Winterfest photography by Jess Tessier

City of Hamilton
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