As the snow melted in nearly 10 C temperatures Thursday, winter enthusiasts from around the world gathered in Edmonton to discuss ways to get people to embrace the cold.

The Winter City Shakeup explores how urban design in planning can make winter more enjoyable, and how events and programming can get people outside in frigid temperatures.

But irony of mild February weather in a city hosting a winter conference did not escape some of the delegates.

"Everyone has been telling me I'm lucky to be here this week because the weather's so warm," said Kari Leibowitz, a PhD candidate from Stanford University. "I've been responding that actually I'm quite disappointed that there isn't more snow."

Keri Leibowitz

Keri Leibowitz, a psychologist at Stanford University, talked about how attitudes toward winter can affect the well being of people. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

Leibowitz, a psychologist, was one of the speakers on Thursday. She studies how attitudes toward winter affect people's sense of well being. At the conference, she discussed her experience living in a Norwegian town, Tromso, for a year where she found that rates of seasonal depression were low.

Although the snow may be disappearing in Edmonton, Leibowitz applauded the conference and the winter festivals the city boasts.

"They're really doing a lot of things I recommend based on my research that cities and individuals do to make winter a more enjoyable time of year," said Leibowitz.

The city's Winter City department helps to organize and promote winter activities and festivals in Edmonton. Ice on Whyte wrapped up a few weeks ago, while the Silver Skate festival continues until Sunday.

"Edmontonians have been really getting on board and embracing winter way more," says Susan Holdsworth, Winter City coordinator. "Our programs and the offerings we have in our city really multiplied and the numbers of people attending have shot way up. We just hope it will continue."

The conference will feature a winter fashion show and fat bike tours before wrapping up on Saturday.

Travis.McEwan@cbc.ca

@Travismcewancbc