Yellowknife’s iconic Snowcastle won’t appear in its usual form in 2021. Instead, festival organizers are planning a playground and “snow structure.” Yes, there will be a slide.
The outdoor playground, known as the Winter Garden, will be overseen by a helper dubbed Snowbuddy. Organizers called it a “new twist on a winter tradition” and “a perfect fit for a world changed by a global pandemic.” There will be no entry fee.
To be built from January 1, the garden will host a range of recreational and artistic installations throughout March. In a bid to abide by pandemic-related restrictions, organizers said the garden would allow residents “to gather in spirit, if not in clusters.”
The news release added: “Is there gonna be a castle? While we don’t want to tip our hand just yet, we can confirm that there will be a snow structure, though it won’t be quite like castles of years past.
“OK, but will there be a slide? Darn tootin’!”
Snowking himself said in the news release: “Despite the difficulties of our times, we are still committed to bringing winter fun to the children. That is the main goal here.
“There may be aspects of the festival that you will miss this year, but we hope to broaden our scope and bring something cool to our town that we can continue to be proud of.”
The festival has endured successive years of significant disruption.
In 2019, a heatwave laid waste to the Snowcastle and flooded large sections, forcing organizers to close the castle a week early for the first time in its history.
A year later, the onset of Covid-19 saw the festival abandoned by March 17.
In announcing their vision for 2021 on Friday, organizers also formally deleted an apostrophe. The event is known as Snowkings Winter Festival, they said, not Snowking’s Winter Festival.
“There are multiple kings,” read the news release, listing the snowy monikers adopted by a range of festival helpers: King Avalanche, King Joe Snow, King Von Blizzard, and King of Snow (the original Snowking).