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Bon Soo brings back old faves, moves polar bear swim

The popular polar bear swim will relocate from Bellevue Park to the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre
2017-02-05 Bon Soo Polar Bear Swim DMH-16
The 2017 Bon Soo Polar Bear Swim. Donna Hopper/SooToday

This year's 60th anniversary of the Bon Soo Winter Carnival features the return of some old favourites, including snow sculptures, helicopter rides, and a revised Passport to Unity culinary event.  

The festival’s crown jewel – the Polar Bear Swim – will relocate from Bellevue Park to the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre where there will be warming stations, food and refreshments, and live entertainment.

Everything kicks off on Feb. 4 with events scheduled at The Canal District, Northern Superior and Clergue Park until Feb. 11.

The festival will close with a street party on Queen Street East between East and Spring on Feb. 11 that includes a beer garden, live entertainment, road hockey, food booths, and more.

Additional festival details can be found on the website or in the news release below:

Sault Ste. Marie’s much-loved Bon Soo winter carnival returns Feb. 4 for its 60th anniversary celebration presented by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG). Over 130 events promise to bring the fun with a mix of well-known favourites like the Polar Bear Swim, bum slides and some exciting new additions such as the Sentimentalists, Polar Rush and Passport to Unity.

Over 100 volunteers across three main locations (The Canal District, Northern Superior and Clergue Park), will make Bon Soo possible. Admission to events is by purchasing a Bon Soo Button for $10. Buttons are on sale now at several locations throughout the city.

Highlights include the following:

  • Saturday, Jan. 28
    • Snow Carving at Clergue Park begins a week before the official start so teams can get creative and have fun sculpting. Sign up online.
  • Friday, Feb. 3
    • The Canal District hosts the opening ceremony Bon Tidings with fireworks, live music, and bum slides. Northern Superior hosts Sno Madness over two nights with winter games and prizes for pre-registered teams. Enjoy what is sure to be a lively atmosphere at the Tap Room.
  • Saturday, Feb. 4
    • Bellevue Park hosts the first Polar Bear Rush Winter Obstacle Course from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Enjoy Best in Snow – snow sculptures as well as CrokiCurl at Clergue Park. Also at Clergue Park are pony rides from Hidden Hills Stables and maple taffy tasting from Hogan’s Homestead, both from 1– 4 p.m. The Canal District has a full day of programming including bum slides, 3-on-3 Ringette Challenge, an ice maze and helicopter or tractor rides.
    • In the evening try gourmet food from around the world at Passport to Unity in The Canal District from 6 – 10 p.m. Guests immerse themselves in a tasting menu featuring internationally inspired cuisine and performances from around the world. Soo Blaster hosts Bon Soo Comedy Night featuring Glen Foster.
    • The Sault Ste. Marie Museum hosts a special 60-year exhibit, the Bushplane Museum is offering 2-for-1 entry for the entirety of the event, themed skate nights and daily CrockiCurl at Clergue Park. The Canal District hosts bum slides, a Bon Soo colouring wall and an ice maze.
  • Sunday, Feb. 5
    • There’s more fun at The Canal District with Sault Trailblazers snowmachine rides. Clergue Park hosts a drop-in snowshoe relay race. The Bushplane Museum is offering free entry after 1 p.m. to button holders and there a special screening of the movie Frozen 2 at 2.30 p.m.
    • Bay Street Active Living Community Centre hosts an outdoor 4-on-4 Street Hockey Tournament for pre-registered teams. Soo Greyhounds wear special Bon Soo Jerseys on game day at GFL Memorial Gardens. Puck drops at 2.07 p.m. Bon Soo theme jerseys will be available for online auction following the game, at the Greyhounds website.
    • Sunday wraps up at The Canal District with The Sno Ball Family Dance featuring a Children’s magician and a 60th birthday party for Bon Soo.
  • Monday, Feb. 6
    • Test your Northern acclimation with a series of Canadian challenges with The Coldest Cannuck Newcomers Challenge at Northern Superior. The Canal District hosts dessert and liquor tasting.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 7
    • Gather by the fire with Thrive Tours at Clergue Park and to share land-based teachings of Baawating. Northern Superior hosts EDM Sno Bath (Electronic Dance Music) with DJs Angelazura and Bobby Lawn. The Canal District hosts Bon Soo Paint Night, a family friendly, step by step guided way to paint your own Bon Soo inspired masterpiece
  • Wednesday, Feb. 8
    • From 5 – 7 p.m., enjoy a special night at Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig (SKG) and Science North’s Indigenous Ingenuity Exhibit. The evening features an on-site knowledge-keeper, SKG Tours and Tobacco Ties featuring a feather-wrapping workshop. Northern Superior hosts a Fire and Ice Hot Sauce Chicken Wing Challenge (pre-registration required).
  • Thursday, Feb. 9
    • Night Skiing and a limited-ticket shuttle bus to Searchmont Ski Resort. The bus departs Algoma University at 4:30 p.m. for skiing and free hot chocolate. Button holders get 50 per cent off tickets and rentals. The Canal District’s Machine Shop hosts Bon Soo Blues Society concert featuring the Andre Bisson Band and opening act Lindsay Pugh.
  • Friday, Feb. 10
    • Lantern Ski at Hiawatha Highlands, free for Bon Soo Button holders. The Canal District hosts Bon Soo headline show The Sentimentalists. This world-renowned celebrity mentalist creates a two-person mind-reading experience that has performed on America’s Got Talent and sold out shows across the United States.
  • Saturday, Feb. 11
    • The final day with 19 events in nine locations. All day snowmobile drag races at Runway Park, frozen canoe rides at The Canal District’s bum slide from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., and arguably the most iconic Bon Soo event, the Polar Bear Swim, at the Bushplane Museum with musical guest the Hustle Brothers. Registration at noon, jumping begins at 2 p.m. weather permitting.
    • Bon Soo 2023 draws to a close with Bon Voyage, a Queen Street party from East Street to Spring Street. Say goodbye to Mr. Bon Soo and enjoy a beer garden, food stops, illusionist Ryan MacFarling, street hockey, road curling, live music, closing fireworks and more including the 2023 snow sculpture awards.

Sponsors who have made Bon Soo 2023 possible include Big title Sponsor OLG, Premier Sponsor Tenaris, Signature Sponsors The Canal District and Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, Village Media, Algoma University, TD Bank, Soo Mill and Odd Job Jacks.

For more information including how to purchase a Bon Soo button, as well individual pricing, and times for each event visit here.

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