The Snowking Winter Festival XXI
The month of March brings new life to Yellowknife and the North. As the days become longer but temperatures remain low, the cold days are enhanced by bright, cloudless skies. For Yellowknife in particular, March is a special time as it boasts the month-long Snowking Festival.
Every year, a kind, local fellow, known as the Snowking, along with a large crew of volunteers build a giant snowcastle on Great Slave Lake’s Yellowknife Bay (right in the Snowking’s backyard). Story has it that 20 years ago, the snowcastle was born out of 2 friends’ idea to build a snowfort for their children. It wasn’t long before this idea became a community sensation and blossomed into the incredible month-long cultural celebration that it is today.
The building crew begins harvesting approximately 430 blocks of ice from Great Slave Lake as it freezes over in November. They cut through the fresh ice with a giant ice saw to collect ice that will eventually be used for the windows, sculptures and other unique intricacies within the snowcastle. By January, there has been enough snow accumulation to begin constructing the castle. Originally the castle was painstakingly constructed by giant blocks of snow but the builders have since begun using more sophisticated techniques. The primary walls of the castle are now constructed using wooden frames on which they blast the snow; once the snow has set and hardened, the wood blocks are removed (similar to how you would pour concrete). Once the walls are up, sculptors step in to carve in the dazzling designs in and outside of the castle.
This year the snowcastle did not disappoint! It was equipped with a double ice slide, a theatre/stage auditorium, public washrooms, ice sculpture garden, art gallery, hot chocolate/cookie stand, and 2 private stage-viewing booths. Throughout the month, there was 34 different performances with 312 performers/artists!
As soon as the castle was open for business, we trekked down to the lake, got ourselves a couple of season’s passes. We excitedly scoped out the scene and studied the schedule of events in preparation for our first visitors!
Adam & Amanda