Snowking on Saturday opened his castle for the 25th time, delighting a large crowd of his parka-clad subjects on Yellowknife Bay.
Brandishing a sceptre fashioned from a crosscut saw, Yellowknife’s homemade monarch began this year’s winter festival accompanied by youngsters holding flags.
At the stroke of noon, the snow door to the silver jubilee version of Snowking’s legendary snow and ice edifice was cut open and the children led the way inside.
Crowds pouring through the door and were greeted by the Yellowknives Dene Drummers.
It’s the first time the festival has opened in February – barely, on a leap-year 29th day. Last year’s unusually warm March weather forced the early closing of the 2019 festival.
The castle, with its alcoves, slides, and sculptures, is a bit larger for 2020. New for this year, its footprint is angled to keep the building entirely on ice that remains frozen right to the bottom of the bay, just in case spring comes early again. (Part of the castle used to sit on the same floating ice shared by the ice road.)
Another precaution, said festival spokesperson Laura “LaurFrost” Busch, was to book out-of-town entertainment to perform at the start of the month-long festival – not the end – in case things begin to melt.
Entertainment in the Great Hall includes locals Leela Gilday and Andrea Bettger, playing the Cabin Fever Reliever event on March 20. At the Great Melt the following day, Toronto punk band PUP will play with local act PIT! opening.
Wrapping up the festival will be a 25th-anniversary Candled Ice Review featuring many local performers on March 25, the King’s Comedy Night on March 26, and a Rave Castle night featuring DJs Miraj and Puppy on March 27.
Opening the festival at Saturday night Shiver and Shaker was Motherhood, with Great Bear.
The theme of this year’s event is outer space. The castle’s walls duly feature sculpted snow aliens and spaceships.