By Nick Kuhl on November 30, 2019.
Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden kicked off its annual Winter Light Festival
Friday night, and offered a frosty new experience for guests.
“This year we wanted to add more interactive things into the garden
for our Winter Light Festival,” said Nikka Yuko marketing and events
manager Melanie Berdusco. “We hired Lee Ross from Frozen Memories,
and he has created these three amazing ice sculptures that provide a
little bit of extra fun for our guests this year. We are just really
excited to add something new to the garden.”
The large sculptures of a sumo wrestler, a samurai warrior and a
traditional Japanese-style picture frame will provide great photo
opportunities for families, Berdusco predicted.
“When I came down here, I didn’t even know this place existed, and
it is such a beautiful setting,” said Ross, who was busy assembling
his sculptures Friday afternoon.
“To be part of having ice at this display is a great honour for me.”
The sculptures were pre-made at his ice-making facility in Calgary,
broken into parts, and brought down in special temperature-controlled
containers to be re-assembled in Lethbridge.
“We keep our ice at -10 C,” said Ross. “Unfortunately, it is -23
C right now (at Nikka Yuko) so we can’t make the ice crystal clear.
But at night time, the ice will just glow.”
Berdusco promised those coming out to the opening ceremonies of the
festival would be walking into a true winter wonderland.
“It makes it more of a winter wonderland when we have got the snow;
so it looks great, and the lights are going to look beautiful once
they come on,” she said. “We’re very excited. We’ve got more
than 100,000 lights throughout the garden.”
Guests would also not have to worry too much about braving the
elements, she hoped.
“It is a little bit cold today, but we’ve got heaters set up
throughout the garden so people will be able to stay warm as they are
taking a stroll through the garden to see the lights. We’ve got hot
chocolate and coffee and tea — all of those things to help keep
Some hot sake (Japanese mulled rice wine) might also help more mature
guests feel the warmth and hospitality of the Nikka Yuko spirit.
“As part of our opening ceremonies, as is tradition, we have our
giant sake barrel that comes from Sake Gami in Calgary,” explained
Berdusco. “(Our VIP guests) break it — it’s called breaking the
mirror, the top layer on the barrel there — and that’s our official
opening ceremony. The sake is then warmed, and we will share it with
all those who want to try some.”
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