With the –20 C weather gone, at least for the moment, perhaps it’s time to consider spending time this weekend somewhere other than underneath a heaping pile of flannel blankets.

After all, there is a variety of things to do in Hamilton on Saturday. You might even be compelled to spend more than a few fleeting moments outdoors. Maybe.

Winterfest Kickoff

The city’s Winterfest celebrations get started on Saturday. The kickoff event at Pier 8 will feature family-friendly activities such as outdoor skating, horse-drawn wagon rides, dance classes, birdfeeder-making workshops and a chance to paint using everyone’s favourite art supply, chocolate.

Festival-goers will also be able to purchase hot food and beverages from independent Hamilton establishments like The Brain and The Burnt Tongue.

The entertainment starts at 3 p.m. and runs until 10 p.m. Parking is available at Pier 4 and Pier 8.

For more information, including a full schedule of activities, click here.

Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai

You can still catch Cirque du Soleil at Copps Coliseum (101 York Blvd.) before it finishes its Hamilton run on Sunday night. The Montreal-based company, known for its inventive costumes, kaleidoscopic lights shows and heart-stopping acrobatics, has brought its Vareka show to town.

The troupe will deliver two performances on each of Feb. 1 and 2. Saturday showtimes are 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday’s are 1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Tickets start at $59.75 each and go all the way up to $174.75. For tickets, go to Ticketmaster.ca or call the Copps Coliseum box office at (905) 546-4040.

John C. Holland Awards

Celebrating the contributions of Hamilton’s African Canadian community members, the 18th annual John C. Holland Awards will be handed out on Saturday at the Michelangelo Banquet Centre (1555 Upper Ottawa St.) on the Mountain. 

For the first time, organizers will give out the newly minted Nelson Mandela Award, named in honour of South Africa’s first post-Apartheid president, who died in December. The prize will be awarded to a young person who has demonstrated a keen interest in social justice and human rights. The award comes with a $1,000 scholarship.

Tickets to the banquet, which starts 6:30 p.m., cost $85 each or $750 for a table of 10. They are available online or by phone at 905-527-5651.

For more information, go to Johnhollandawards.com.

Steel City Stories presents Roots

Sometimes nothing is more entertaining than a compelling tale told in an intimate setting.

Arts collective Steel City Stories has taken this concept and given it a local flair, enlisting a group of Hamilton storytellers to ply their craft. Roots, the group’s Saturday soiree at Christ’s Church Cathedral, will feature talks from musician Lori Yates, entrepreneur and activist Matthew Green and independent journalist Joey Coleman.

Advance tickets, sold until noon on Saturday, cost $8 each and are available online. Admission at the door is $10.

Doors open at 7 p.m. and the storytelling starts at 7:30 a.m.

For more information, and to buy tickets, go to Steelcitystories.ca.

Arthur Schnitzler's La Ronde

Looking to turn up the heat this weekend? The McMaster Thespian Company wraps up its run of the steamy Arthur Schnitzler play La Ronde at The Pearl Company (16 Steven St.) on Saturday. The titillating drama explores the romantic and sexual exploits of a series of couples in late-Victorian-era Vienna, examining how the social mores of the day shape each seduction.  

It should not come as a surprise that this play is intended for adults — viewer discretion is advised.

The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $16 ($12 for students, seniors, arts workers and the unemployed), available online and at the door.

For more information, and to purchase tickets, go to Thepearlcompany.ca.

Fatoumata Diawara

Channelling the rich melodic traditions of her parents’ homeland of Mali, France-based singer-songwriter Fatoumata Diawara brings her North American tour to the Hamilton Place Theatre (10 Macnab St. S) on Sunday night.

Sporting smooth, sensual vocals and agile guitar, her music has also become a call for peace in West Africa. Last year, Diawara organized a group of artists to record a song, Mali-Ko, that demanded for an end to ethnic and religious warring in her parents' country of birth.

Tickets to Sunday’s 8 p.m. concert are $30 for adults and $25 for students and seniors.

For more information, and to buy tickets, go to Matapa.ca