By Breanne Massey

Pioneer Staff

As the days get colder and the nights stay long, the winter blues affect some people in the valley.

But Fairmont Hot Springs Resort is teaching locals and tourists alike how to embrace the last of the winter doldrums with this years 7th Annual Fire and Ice Festival activities for adults and children held between Thursday, February 25th and Sunday, February 28th.

This is another one of those events that was created as a way to fight the potential mid-winter blues that can happen in the valley and celebrate the weather that we deal with, so Fire and Ice was born, said Peter Smith, Fairmont Hot Springs Resort executive vice-president and president of the Fairmont Business Association.

Fairmont Resort, the Fairmont Business Association and the Columbia Valley Winter in Motion Festival host the annual event, which will be uncorked this year with a series of long-standing viticulture traditions being put to the test at the Best of BC Wine Tasting in the resort lobby on Thursday, February 25th. For $10 between 5 and 6 p.m., vintners will offer an expansive selection of B.C. wines on the menu for sommeliers and wine aficionados to sample.

This year were adding another new event, which is the distillery festival, added Mr. Smith. We already have a wine festival and a beer festival, but this one is a distillery event thats happening for the first time this year.

On Friday, February 26th between 7 and 9 p.m., the first-ever East Kootenay Distillery Festival will offer up a taste of 28 spirits to sample from nine of B.C.s best distilleries with gourmet hors d oeuvres served and a selection of fine art works from local artists to view.

The $40 tickets to the 1st Annual East Kootenay Distillery Festival also include entry to the after-party at the Bears Paw Bar and Grill with live music by Smokin Ray and the Detectors between 8 p.m. and midnight.

In addition, the 33rd Annual Starlight Challenge will celebrate the February month-end finale beginning at 7 p.m. at the Fairmont Hot Springs Ski Area chalet with live music from the Stereo Three band.

The festivities will continue between noon and 4 p.m. at the Fairmont Hot Springs Ski Area on Saturday, February 27th with a family-friendly day that features an ice carving demonstration by Rusty Cox, campfire smores, a barbecue on the ski chalet deck, and entertainment by DJ Wil C.

Later that night, the Fire and Ice Dinner and Dance will be held at the resort lodge between 6 p.m. and midnight with live music by Billy Kulyk and Friends, a silent auction, and a dinner buffet on Saturday, February 27th. Tickets to the dinner and dance are $40 and 100 per cent of the proceeds raised at the event will be paid forward to the Fairmont Hot Springs Visitor Information Centre.

The Fire and Ice Festival weekend will wrap up with a free pancake breakfast at Smoking Waters Cafe between 8 a.m. and noon on Sunday, February 28th.

Dont be slow about getting your tickets for the dinner and dance because they go fast, concluded Mr. Smith, noting tickets will be sold online and at the resorts Mountain Lodge. To book a ticket to the Fire and Ice Festival, visit www.fairmonthotsprings.com/product/fire-ice-ticket/.