Hartford's Winterfest Opens Friday In Bushnell Park

Hartford's Winterfest opens Friday, including free skating in Bushnell Park

HARTFORD — The city is gearing up for its annual winter festival, a frosty favorite designed to draw more people downtown on nights and weekends.

Winterfest, which last year brought more than 100,000 people from across the state, will open for the season on Friday.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the mayors of East Hartford and West Hartford are expected to join Mayor Pedro Segarra for an opening ceremony at 5 p.m. in Bushnell Park.

The event marks the start of free skating at the 100-by-100-foot rink at the park's east end. The rink will be open daily through Feb. 1. Free skate rentals are provided.

"I really don't know of anything else like it. It really feels like a true community event," Kristina Newman-Scott, Hartford's director of marketing, events and cultural affairs, said. "It's one of the few places in our state where you can really see and celebrate the diversity."

Prior to the ceremony, carolers from the Hall High School Choraliers will perform and there will be a figure skating show. Segarra will then join visitors on the ice for a public skate. The rink holds 125 to 150 skaters at a time, officials said, and skaters are rotated.

Winterfest costs about $311,000 and is paid for mostly by corporate sponsors. The city contributes about $100,000. Organizers have also collected about $5,100 through the fundraising website Crowdrise.

Sponsors include United Technologies Corp., Phoenix, Travelers, The Hartford, United Healthcare, Reid and Riege, Robinson and Cole, Hartford Hospital, LAZ Parking and Bank of America. Jackie Mandyck, the managing director of iQuilt, said organizers still need to raise about $40,000 to cover event costs.

The rink will be open from 4:30 to 10 p.m. on Friday and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily after that, except on holidays.

It will be open from noon to 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and from 11 a.m. on New Year's Eve to 12:30 a.m. on New Year's Day. A free learn-to-skate program will be held on Saturday mornings. For times and a full schedule of events throughout the season, visit

Event organizers are also collecting new or gently used hats, gloves and scarves to distribute to skaters who need them. The items may be dropped off at the skate shack next to the rink.

Copyright © 2018, CT Now