Toronto Through My Lens

Bloor-Yorkville Icefest 2023

I’ve always enjoyed the annual Bloor-Yorkville Icefest, and it was great to see it return this past weekend after being waylaid for a couple of years by COVID-19. Despite that, though, I was so incredibly disappointed in this year’s offering – the energy and effort just weren’t there. I think ice sculpture placement had a lot to do with it – unlike previous years the event this year was decentralized, the activities and events scattered throughout Yorkville and Bloor Street West. Usually, Icefest lines Cumberland Street from Bay Street to Avenue Road; considerable energy and vibe is generated as a result.

Here’s how this year’s sculptures and activities were presented:

Ice sculpture and event map

Ice Sculptures on Bloor Street West

There were 6 or 7 works installed along Bloor Street West:

“Second Harvest: Coast to Coast”
“The Chess Knight”
“Sparkling Crystal”
“Climbing At Clouds”
“Young Cerberus”
“Friends of the Forest World”

Later That Night…

As I’ve done during previous Icefests, I returned later at night with expectations of catching some of the sculptures softly bathed in coloured spotlights. No luck on that score this year; all that was offered were these four figures on Bloor Street West at Bay Street, starkly lit by what appeared to be LED or florescent tubes:

“The Melancholic Mermaid”
“Etheric Pegasus”
“Whimsical Castle”
“The Princess Dress”

Meanwhile, Over at the Village of Yorkville Park

Leaving Bloor Street behind me, I ventured over to the Village of Yorkville Park on Cumberland Street, which traditionally serves as the epicentre of the event. With camera and enthusiasm at the ready, I was let down: there were no ice sculptures at the site, only people wandering aimlessly about looking for said sculptures.

“Ice Wall Projections”
According to the organizers, this ice wall was to serve as a projection screen for colourful lights. All I saw was a blank wall with a swarm of Instagrammers vying for space to take their selfies.

Organizers promoted the ice wall by saying:

Enjoy the sights and fantasies and immerse yourselves in a whimsical experience, as ice comes to life through a magically carved Ice Wall. As the sun goes down, take a glance at hidden dreams as Icefest offers you tailor-made projections on ice artwork, located in the Village of Yorkville Park.

Huh? Was this the same event?

I wandered the Park to see what else might be happening:

LED lights (not ice)
Balzac’s was there, serving ice coffee from their ice counter
I thought the Balzac ice tables were kind of interesting

All in all though, it was good to see people out and about again. Here’s hoping next year’s festival will be a little more inspiring.


Photo Galleries of Icefest’s Previous Years

If you’d like to see a couple of my Bloor-Yorkville Icefest photo galleries from previous (and much better) years, please click on the links below:

Icefest 2019

Theme: Hollywood North

Icefest 2015

Theme: Frozen In Time

2 Comments

  1. Bob K

    I remember going to the IceFest a few times and finding it unbalanced between the crowds and the sculptures. Lots of people, Too few sculptures, and not that many interesting ones. I think what a fesitval like this needs is a single big attraction, something large and powerful, to focus it.

    • Marvin Job

      I couldn’t agree more, Bob.

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