Snowbuddy’s Winter Garden, this year’s pandemic-adapted version of Yellowknife’s annual March festival, has pleaded for patience as organizers work to admit as many people as possible in the garden’s final week.
Entry to the garden – which replaces the usual Snowcastle and has few enclosed spaces in a bid to meet public health restrictions – is free this year, but tickets have been snapped up in seconds upon their online release each Sunday.
In a message to residents released on Wednesday, organizers said they would do their best to increase ticket availability for the festival’s forthcoming final week.
Urging residents to “be as understanding as possible,” the winter garden team said 16,000 people visit the Snowcastle in a normal year but Covid-19 restrictions meant only about a third of that number could be accommodated this time around.
Organizers asked anyone who has already visited this year to “unzip your coat and take your hands off the keyboard, leaving the remaining available spots for those who haven’t been so lucky.”
There have been occasional reports this month of people reserving free tickets for the winter garden then looking to sell them on for a small profit, while social media has filled with residents asking if others are able to part with tickets.
Organizers, meanwhile, said people should stop asking the winter garden team for favours as nobody has “the authority to just sneak you in.”
Anyone who can’t make it after reserving a ticket is asked to go online and cancel through the registration system, to ensure the space can be opened up for someone else.
From March 23, in a bid to include as many people as possible, the group size on a pre-booked ticket will be reduced from 10 to five people.
Organizers have also asked the NWT’s chief public health officer if the winter garden’s capacity can be increased for its final week, up to March 28, and the garden is seeking more volunteers to come forward and help out.
Anyone who can’t get tickets is still able to visit the snow carvings outside the garden.
“Of course, the sad truth of the matter is that the global pandemic disappoints on many levels,” organizers added in their news release, saying it was “quite likely that some may not be able to book a spot” when the final week’s tickets are released at 9am on Sunday, March 21.
The festival “fully intends to bounce back next winter with another frozen fortress,” the news release concluded. Exactly what form 2022’s festival will take remains to be decided.