Monday, 24 February 2014

Warming Huts through the eyes of Kate Busby 'Windshield' Warming Hut designer 2014

In only four short years, Warming Hut's - An Art+ Architecture Competition on Ice  has become a internationally-recognized annual design competition, drawing close to 200 submissions each year. This is why, when my team got a phone call last October to let us know that we were one of this year's competition winners, we couldn't quite believe it.

Design competitions have always been a great way for designers to exercise their skills and share ideas. As a young architect, the Warming Huts competition is an invaluable opportunity to design outside of the conventions of a paid architecture practice. And, with the competition's requirement to work with an artist - it pushed us to work with an outside creative force.

In early autumn, Michael Thicke, my architecture teammate and fiancĂ©, suggested we enter the competition. My mother, Bella Totino, a graphic designer and fine artist in Alberta, joined the team as well. Michael and I live in British Columbia, so we worked on the project with my mother remotely, over the phone and videochat, to come up with the final design for a unique Warming Hut that would move in the wind. In late
September, we sent our submission off.

Which brings us to the phone call in October, that let us know that our Warming Hut design would be coming to life and that we would be invited to Winnipeg in January to see our work make it's way on to the frozen river. We immediately set to work, advancing our initial design into a set of working drawings from which the hut could be welded, printed and sewn. We worked with an incredible team at The Forks  and with our liaison Joshua Adria at Sputnik Architecture to get the design built.

In late January, we made our way to Winnipeg to see the final result of our design for a five-meter tall sail-like weather vane. It was evening and -30C when we arrived in Winnipeg. The following morning wasn't much warmer, but looking to explore The Forks and see our hut, we made our way to The Forks Market courtyard. The hut seemed larger and more strikingly colourful than we could ever have imagined. It was beautifully built and to our excitement (and relief) it worked really well, rotating smoothly to protect
it's users from the cold, prevailing winds. The first moment we saw it move on it's own in the breeze, we couldn't help jumping up and down, hands in the air, shouting 'It's working! It's really working!' After months of work and anticipation, it was a really great moment.

Two days later, we watched as The Forks crews moved the hut out to it's home for the next few weeks, below the Osborne Bridge on the Red River Mutual Trail. We skated out to the hut, to watch it being used on the frozen trail as we had only imagined it three provinces away several months before. We are so thankful to The Forks for such a memorable adventure.

Kate Busby
'Windshield' Warming Hut designer 2014

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Almond Tree Makes Valentine's Day Easy

Tucked away in The Forks Market is the iconic yellow canopy of Almond Tree. Almond Tree is celebrating its 25th anniversary with The Forks and we took a look to see what Valentine's Day goodies they have to offer.

Exquisite chocolates is a classic Valentine's Day gift. Almond Tree carries a wide selection of Leonidas Belgian Chocolates. There is a huge variety of styles, flavours, and some chocolates you've probably never heard of before. If you really want to impress these chocolates are show-stoppers.

Leonidas chocolate displays at Almond Tree
Chocolates within chocolate!

A couple of tourists taste testing Almond Tree's Leonidas chocolates. One of the chocolates they bought was Cognac flavoured. Brandy and chocolate... it doesn't get much better than that!

Sesame, Spicy Pumpkin Seed, and Cherry-Coconut Brittle made right here in Winnipeg.
If you are in a rush today (or forgot about Valentine's Day) Almond Tree has a bright red display full of all their Valentine's goodies. You can't miss it at The Forks Market.

Is your sweetie sick this Valentine's Day? Help soothe his/her aching throat with some yummy Raspberry Drops. Conveniently priced at $1.77. 

Almond Tree has almost every flavour of European Ritter Sport chocolates. Ritter Sport mix-and-matches different types of chocolate with interesting fillings. Our favourite is the orange package (Milk Chocolate with Neapolitan Wafers). At the low price of $3.50 you can buy one for yourself AND one for your sweetheart. 

PS- kids love these chocolates too!

Sometimes chocolate isn't the way to someones heart. But that's okay! Almond Tree has a huge selection of candy, nuts, dried fruit, Jelly Belly, fudge, and even PEZ Candy.

These dispensers are only $3.95. Great for kids!

Coconut Marshmallows
The biggest Oreo ever! Oreo Cookie Fudge
The Forks is a great place for a last minute Valentine's Day date. Any Valentine would be impressed with the large selection of food vendors, restaurants, shops, and activities. Don't forget that many of the stores at The Forks Market carry one-of-a-kind jewelry just in case she's dropped a couple hints. Take a romantic skate down the Red River Mutual Trail then warm up inside with Mini Doughnuts and a trip to Almond Tree. 

Make sure you visit the most romantic Warming Hut called Nuzzles

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Festival du Voyageur on the Red River Mutual Trail

February 14 to 17, join us at the Rendez-vous on Ice on the Red RiverMutual Trail, where the Red and Assiniboine rivers meet, to celebrate Manitoba’s French heritage in style! There are many fun activities lined up for the first weekend of the festival that will keep visitors entertained at the Forks.

Come on down in the evening of February 14 and take part in the Torchlight Walk presented by Manitoba Hydro. Join the cheerful crowd as they walk from the Rendez-vous on Ice to Voyageur Park for an exceptional stroll lit by hundreds of candles and torch lights.
(photo credit: Winnipeg Free Press)
Fashionistas will get a nice treat on February 16 during the Fashion on Ice fashion show. This spectacular outdoor fashion show will be presenting winter looks by local retailers and fashion designers. A truly unique event you will not want to miss.

Let’s not forget Family Day! Taking place on Louis Riel Day (February 17), it will feature free games, activities and adventures for the young and old alike!

And in case you get thirsty or hungry, we will be offering drinks in our outdoor bar as well as delectable French-Canadian cuisine. 

See you there! For more information, visit 

~Jean-Luc LaFlèche, Communications Assistant, Festival du Voyageur

Friday, 7 February 2014

Local Artists Bring Music to Warming Huts Along the Red River Mutual Trail

On Louis Riel Day Weekend last year along the frozen ice of the Assiniboine River, a dozen or so brave Manitoba musicians donned their best winter wear for an acoustic afternoon of live music at the innovative warming huts. Manitoba Music On Ice warmed up thousands of chilled visitors on the world's longest natural skating trail.

Produced by some of Winnipeg's acclaimed festivals and presenters, the event was such a success that organizers The Forks and ManitobaMusic are heating up the ice again this year, and almost doubling the line-up along the Red River Mutual Trail.  

From 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, February 16, music fans can celebrate the Year of Music in Manitoba with the sounds of homegrown talent courtesy of roots outfit The Bros. Landreth; Neil Watson's jazz trio; singer/songwriters Andrew Neville, Claire Morrison, and Cassidy Mann; hip hop act Chris Bennett & DilltheGiant featuring live art by Brian G; indie pop/rockers Federal Lights; and the turntable talents of DJs Nathan Zahn and Kasm. 

Presenters offering up the diverse line-up of local talent include: Aboriginal Music Week, Big Fun Festival, BreakOut West, Festival du Voyageur, MEME Festival, Times Change(d) High & Lonesome Club, West End Cultural Centre, Winnipeg Folk Festival, and Winnipeg International Jazz Festival.

Festival du Voyageur will be bringing the party onto the ice with special programming around The Trading Post bar and its Rendez Vous on Ice, including a day of music featuring performances by Sol James, Red Moon Road, Dirty Catfish Brass Band, L'ensemble musical Pierre Freynet, and DJs RPG and Colin Shots.

Stay tuned for the complete schedule at!