Gary Paterson

Gary Paterson

ACTIVE LIFE: Skating event aims for carnival atmosphere

NANAIMO – Frank Crane Arena transformed into Winter Wonderland during Christmas.

Nanaimoites will have an opportunity to skate and experience a Quebec Winter Carnival-like atmosphere without breaking the bank after Christmas.

The City of Nanaimo Parks, Recreation and Environment department is hosting its annual Winter Wonderland skating event Dec. 26-30 at Frank Crane Arena and it hopes to capture of the spirit of the winter festival in Quebec.

Admission will range from free to $1 and there is no charge for helmet or skate rentals. There are free sessions on every day except Dec. 30.

Gary Paterson, arenas coordinator for the City of Nanaimo, said money from sponsors supports the event. The holiday season is an opportunity for families to spend time together and Winter Wonderland is an affordable recreational option, given how expensive the season can be.

“Families do try to make sure that Christmas is a special time for the kids to their own detriment at times. The credit cards are maxed out, so if we have that free and nearly free opportunity to get people to come out and recreate, that’s what we’re here for … we really do give that maximum exposure to opportunities to participate,” Paterson said.

To add to the winter carnival atmosphere, there will be an ice sculpture, snow cones and toffee on a stick. The ice surface will be dressed up and the centrepiece will be a 40-foot castle, to mimic the ice castle that is part of Quebec’s carnival, Paterson said.

With the exception of Dec. 26, when skating takes place between 11:45 a.m. and 3 p.m., the arena will be open between 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. with numerous sessions.

“That $1 admission gets you in. We don’t clear the building (between sessions) per se. That makes it possible for people to come pretty much at their convenience, whenever they want, stay for as long as they want, all for $1 and skating being what it is, most children really can’t last for more than an hour and a half anyways,” said Paterson.

While it might be cold and a little bit tiring physically, Winter Wonderland is a good way to get exercise and the perfect precursor to a post-Christmas meal, Paterson said.

Choral groups are being sought to perform at the skate sessions and interested parties can contact Paterson at 250-755-7536 or by e-mail at

For more information, please go to the parks, recreation and environment department section of the City of Nanaimo’s website,