The castle door has been cut open, and the 22nd Snowking’s Winter Festival is underway on Yellowknife Bay.
From Wednesday until the end of the month, the city’s renowned snow castle will host everything from children’s activities to art exhibits and musical performances.
Some of the mandates of the month-long winter festival include the promotion of local content and cultural heritage and presenting Yellowknife as a tourist destination during the winter.
It took some elbow grease to saw the door open, but the Snowking himself says he’s glad everything is underway.
“I’m a little bit tired and I’m finally relieved that the door’s open and the people are able to go in now. We’re going to have a good season this year,” he said, joking that he’s looking forward to another month of poor sleep.
For the castle’s lead builder Joel Maillet, aka The Avalanche Kid, he’s excited about the changes he and the Snowking made to the design this year.
“I designed the playground and I’m quite proud of that and happy with the results,” he said.
This year the castle features two slides, an outdoor café, and the playground has been expanded for more family space.
Much of the inspiration for the playground, Maillet says, was taken from a photo of a little Italian village.
— Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi (@GabrielaPanza) March 1, 2017
The Avalanche Kid started out as a volunteer with the festival. That was eight years ago.
“I think what keeps me coming back is there’s this renewal every year and a new chance, a new opportunity to be creative with snow and ice,” said Maillet, who has a background in fine art.
“One of the coolest things about this project is that it’s a ritual. Every year we go through all the processes we did the year previous and we get to start them all over again and do them.
“We get to improve every year.”