Hot-air balloons will be soaring over the North Okanagan as part of the Vernon Winter Carnival's annual Balloon Fiesta.
The popular festival runs from
Feb. 1-10 and features dozens of events and activities, many of which are free
Executive director Brittany Sjoblom said providing a family friendly and inexpensive week of activities is at the root of every winter carnival.
"It started out as a way to get rid of the winter blues," said Sjoblom from the carnival office that is abuzz with activity.
"There are a lot of adult events and family events going on. There is something for all ages to take part in. It provides something low-cost for the people of Vernon."
New to the carnival, which is sponsored by Fix Auto this year, is the Winter Carnival Family day Feb. 9 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Polson Park.
"There really isn't a whole lot where people can celebrate winter carnival outside, so people can come down and get together," said Sjoblom, adding there will be a variety of games and activities. The event is designed to tie-in with the first B.C. Family Day statutory holiday on Feb. 11.
Sjoblom said there are many events on the closing weekend for all ages.
Carnival officially kicks off Feb. 1 and the balloons are back. Up to 10 massive, hot-air balloons are expected to soar over the North Okanagan as part of the annual Balloon Fiesta.
All flights are weather pending, but if Old Man Winter co-operates, the first flight should take place at around 9 a.m. Feb. 1. Morning and afternoon flights planned for Saturday, with the pilots taking off once on Sunday for the annual competition over Swan Lake.
The coronation of 33rd Queen Silver Star will take place from 5-5:30 p.m. Feb. 1 in Polson Park, with the popular balloon glow to follow.
"As soon as the coronation is over, you can turn around and see the balloon glow," said Sjoblom adding both events are free to attend.
On Saturday (Feb. 2) the streets will be lined with people for the carnival parade. There will be more than 100 floats in the event that draws more than 10,000 people. The parade starts at noon and follows the traditional route.
Silver Star Mountain Resort will once again be hosting the B.C. Snow Sculpture Championships Feb. 1-2.
The winner will compete in the national event next year in Quebec.
"This is the only provincial championship event to send people to Quebec," said Sjoblom.
With Prehistoric Carnival being the theme for the 2013 festivities, the Okanagan Science Centre will be hosting events with dinosaur and prehistoric themes.
Numerous other events are also planned throughout the work week. For a full list of activities, go to vernonwintercarnival.com, or pick up a free carnival brochure.