The Hardwater Festival is pleased to present a variety of fun and informative activities for all ages. All activities are free unless otherwise noted.

Some require advance registration.


Art of Ice and Snow

The Haliburton Highlands is a vibrant arts community. Much of the art is inspired by nature including the white and wonder of winter. Drop by to have a look at works by local artists including Susan Hay, Harvey Walker, Sharon Lynch and Marguerite Easby. Some items will be available for sale


Below Zero ‐ Critters in the Cold

Ever wonder how wild animals cope with these winter conditions of ice and snow. Where do most of the animals go this time of year? Come learn about wildlife in winter by playing some fun and interactive games. Family friendly! Sandra Dabrowski from the Bark Lake Leadership and Conference Centre will be your guide.



Grab a few friends or family for a game of broomball! A good way to warm up on a cold day.


Cool “Jazz”

Groove to the jazzy tunes of guitarist Nick Russell and bassist Dylan White.


Cool Movies

Get in from the cold for a while and warm up to some very cool movies and documentaries including There’s Something in the Water, a fascinating story about our local NHL players; and, of course, movies like Ice Age . Sponsored by Hudson Henderson Insurance Brokers


History of Ice

Join us in the Heritage Corner to view a vintage video of cutting lake ice and associated tools.  We will also sample some homemade ice cream just like our grandmothers used to make.  Sponsored by Hyland Ice and the Haliburton Highlands Museum.


Ice and Snow Play Zone

Come and explore the outdoor ice and snow play area created and set up by Brandon Jarvis, the Right Brained Mom.  This is a 'parent supervised' area. Suitable for ages 3 and up


Ice Bar

There is nothing like a fresh cold brew on a winter’s day. Belly up to the ice bar to sample some beer from Haliburton Highlands Brewing.


Ice Fishing ‐ Catching the Big One

Ice fishing is favourite pastime in the Haliburton Highlands. Ever wonder what those people are doing in those huts. You can find out by heading out on the ice to our demonstration ice hut and chat with two avid anglers, Steve and Gerry Moraal,  who will be able to answer your questions and show you how to fish.


Ice Hut Makeover Revealed


Ice Safety Awareness

This 1 hour outdoor on ice session will focus on assessment and “being safe” while working/playing around, or on frozen bodies of water. Topics include safe access and egress to and from ice cover, ice testing, safety equipment use (ice screws and throw bagging), cold water immersion hypothermia, and best practices for surviving and immersion experience.  Maximum of 12 people/session. Presented by Wilderness Safety Systems. Sponsored Deborah and Lee Battison


Ice Sculpture by Mike Muli

Renowned ice carver and sculptor, Mike Muli of Ice Carving Events Inc will be creating a sculpture to celebrate lakes in winter. Come and see Mike at work as he brings a block of ice to life.

Ice Skating/Shinny

This is an activity you will take in stride! Bring your skates, helmets and warm socks for a skate on the outdoor rink. Helmets are required. Feel free to bring a hockey stick for a game of shinny. It doesn’t get any more Canadian than that.


Introduction to Ice  Climbing

Kick Sledding

The kicksled or spark is a small sled consisting of a chair mounted on a pair of flexible metal runners which extend backward to about twice the chair's length. The sled is propelled by kicking ("sparke" or "sparka" in the Scandinavian languages) the ground by foot.  We will have a couple on hand for you to try. You will get a real kick out of this activity.



With all of the cold weather activity, you will get hungry.  Volunteers from the West Guilford Community Centre will be serving up a delicious lunch including hot dogs, chili dogs, vegetarian chili,   coffee, tea and hot chocolate.  Rebel Elixir Coffee Roastery will also be on site to satisfy your caffeine craving.  Soups, sandwiches, and tasty desserts are available at Abbey Gardens.


More Ice Climbing



Running into Winter - A Snowshoe Race

Science of Ice

How Is A Winter Lake Like Tupperware? Join ice fanatic John Etches for active discussions and demonstrations that highlight the very special nature of winter lakes. Discover the “5th habitat requirements”, examine lake ice, sample and test lake water, and participate in activities that reveal what lakes and the life within experience before, during and after the winter season. John is a geologist and environmental educator with 30 years of experience and brings a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm to his programs.


Snow Tagging

Snow tagging is a new activity that has become popular with snowshoers over the past few years most notably in Canadian National Parks. It involves translating an image from paper to create a large scale snowshoe‐imprinted work of art in a pristine patch of snow in a field or on a lake – or in a gravel pit at Abbey Gardens. This year Laurie Jones with your help will be tramping out a giant snow labyrinth.


A Walk on the Whiteside

Perhaps you are not quite ready for a snow race.  Why not try a snowshoe walk at Medeba Adventure Learning Centre with a guide who will lead you along the trails and give you a tour of this great learning Centre. Bring your own snowshoes or use a pair from Medeba


Winter by Bike

Fat Bikes are a great way to get around in winter. Algonquin Outfitters will be on hand with a few fat bikes to show you how they work.  Feel free to take one for a spin.


Winter Camping?

Are you thinking about going winter camping? Check out our winter camp sites - one traditional site with a wall tent, and stove (hot camping); the other a modern site with appropriately modern camping gear (cold camping). Which do you prefer? Winter camping guides from Paddlefoot will available to demonstrate techniques and answer your questions.


Winter Survival Essentials

Corina Mansfield from Deep Roots Adventure share some tips and tricks to help you cope with crisis in the cold.  She will cover critical preparation before heading out (whether in a car, on skis, snowmobile, on foot etc.), help you set priorities if you have an incident causing you to stay outdoors in the cold, and  she will demonstrate fire lighting, emergency shelter, signalling techniques, hug-a-tree principals for youth and more.



More Fun in the Haliburton Highlands

In addition to the fun and discovery at the Hardwater Festival there are other things to do in the Haliburton Highlands on the weekend of January 26 - 28


Homemade Stew Concert

Saturday, January 27 -| 7:30pm  | Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion, Haliburton


2018 Canadian National Pond Hockey Championships

Jan 26-28 and Feb 2-4  |   Pinestone Resort and Conference Centre


Abbey Gardens Workshop Series

January 27  |  Abbey Gardens



And More…  Check back here for more program information