Some recent news stories and social media commentary have called into question the City of Edmonton’s decision to trigger the New Year’s fireworks show at 9 pm, instead of midnight. On Facebook, Edward Porper wrote, in part: “…the City decided to replace one with the other instead. WHY? Is it necessary to rob adults of their festivities to serve children better?”
First things first: Happy New Year 2019 everyone! We wish the best for you and your families!
The rest of the story: Yes, for 2018, as was the case last year, the City’s New Year’s Eve fireworks show goes early—at 9 pm this year—out of the Alberta Legislature Grounds. The forecast is -13C and clear skies. The show goes for 8-10 minutes. Dress warm.
“We normally host Edmontonians and visitors in the Civic Precinct in front of City Hall, but it’s a construction zone right now, so, the usual location for the fireworks is not in the cards this year,” said Rob Smyth, Deputy City Manager of Citizen Services with the City of Edmonton.
“But moving locations and moving times is not cast in stone,” Smyth said. “We’ll be doing more public consultation over the upcoming months to decide the timing for future New Year’s Eve fireworks.”
Yes, the move to the Legislature Grounds comes with an earlier time limit, but, yes, it also means visitors have access between 6 pm and 9 pm to the Legislative Assembly Visitor Centre, which is home to the Agora Interpretive Centre, Alberta Branded, the Borealis Gallery, the Pehonan Theatre—and public washrooms. There is live music, roving performers, games, lantern-making and a new light installation. Outside on the Capital Plaza there are main stage performances, ice carving, fire pits, bannock making and food trucks.
The 9 pm wrap up itself is due to extended hours at the Legislature Grounds.
“Moving locations and moving times is not cast in stone.”
Okay, but why not have two fireworks shows, one early for families and one at midnight, too?
The short answer is the budget. The City typically budgets to host one New Year’s Eve fireworks show. Last year’s extravaganza included federal Canada 150 funding, and was an exception.
So, on balance, the City made the call with the Legislature’s help to host the one budgeted event at a time and place that provided the most services, safety—and fun—for the most people. On a mild evening, we’d expect 15,000 people to come and go through the event. With the colder temperature tonight, that total will likely be lower.
Is the earlier show here to stay? Some Canadian cities have moved to an earlier fireworks show, but, as Smyth said, a final decision is still up in the air. Another new factor in the mix for next year is the anticipated opening of the Rogers Place Plaza, and, with it, opportunities to work together with the Oilers Entertainment Group on New Year’s Eve festivities.
Edmontonians and visitors who plan to watch the fireworks live in person outside in the cold this evening are reminded to dress smart for the weather. Remember, if winds gust up to 40 km/h, the fireworks would be cancelled for public safety. If the temperature is -25C or colder, with windchill, outdoor programming will be cancelled. Neither strong wind nor that depth of cold are in the forecast.
There’s another option for fireworks fans: Watch the show on the City of Edmonton’s Facebook page.
Starting at 9 pm. ? ?
More information on New Year’s Eve Downtown Festival & Fireworks at edmonton.ca/newyearseve.
Happy New Year!