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Regina's Frost Festival returning in 2024 despite operating at a loss

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The Regina Exhibition Association Limited (REAL) has announced the Frost Festival is planned to return in January 2024, even though a recent MNP report said the event was not profitable.

A press release from the organization Tuesday said the third annual edition of the festival will be held from Jan. 26 to Feb. 4, 2024. The event is set to feature the GLOW light display inside the International Trade Centre along with a variety of outdoor events like Zamboni rides and a curling area.

Advance passes for 2024 are currently on sale, costing $17 for adults and $10 for kids or seniors. Passes at the door will cost $22 and $15 for the same groups.

“We are so excited for Frost @ REAL to be back again for 2024,” Tim Reid, REAL’s President and CEO said in a release. “Families, youngsters and those who are young at heart will find many opportunities to embrace or escape winter on our District. Advance passes provide considerable savings and make great holiday gifts. GLOW, Jack Frost and snow play will be back, and we can’t wait to welcome you all in January.”

Frost was cited by a report examining REAL’s operations from accounting and business consulting firm MNP, presented to Regina city council Nov. 22 as one of three examples of events that operate as an earnings loss for REAL. The other two events singled out were an event at Mosaic Stadium marking the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and an international soccer match.

“The city should consider if these remain important community events and if they are prepared to subsidize community events of this nature in the future,” the MNP report reads.

The festival was created at the direction of city council in 2021 with the goal of creating a winter event for Regina that would drive tourism in an otherwise slow period.

The first Frost event in 2022 was initially given $210,000 in city funding with the intention of making most of the events free, besides those at the REAL District. It drew around 68,000 people, according to REAL.

Following the event in Feb. 2022, Reid told CTV News the financial results were not finalized, but he anticipated the event would break even after seeing around 68,000 visitors.

“The investment that was made on behalf of REAL was about $1.2 million, which is part of the reason why you saw a $17 gate and a $10 gate here,” Reid said at the time, referencing the paid events.

Frost was also touted as a ‘smashing success’ in 2023, with reported attendance of 88,970.

Planning for 2024 began immediately following the event last February.

Last week, council moved to replace REAL’s board with city officials following a period of immense scrutiny for the organization.

The MNP report found that REAL’s financial situation was unsustainable given the organization is $17.2 million in debt.

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