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What makes Yellowknife an eclectic, vibrant city? Its residents! I had the chance to meet and chat with Yellowknife royalty last week as the Snowking was out and about greeting guests in his kingdom.

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It all started as a project for his kids 21 years ago while outdoors in the yard. The kids soon got bored and left Dad to do the rest.

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Jump to over two decades later, and his castle gets bigger and better each year.

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This is Snowking’s way of showing Yellowknifers that being a winter city, there should be more than the two-day Long John Jamboree to embrace the season.

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With a dedicated paid staff including a building team, board of directors and hospitality crew, the castle takes two months to complete, requiring the lake to be frozen down deep enough to accommodate its weight. When a new builder joins the team, they start out as a Snow Cadet.

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A proper name is later given out once they’ve had the chance to work with the team and get a name to match their experience on the build. Names such as Joe Snow, Jack Frost and (Montrealer) Snow Mystère are some of the folks responsible for the gorgeous castle shown in these photos.

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You can thank Sir Avalanche Kid for this year’s amazing ice slide. Last year’s lineup for the slide was too long, so twin slides were built this year.

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There’s always room for improvement: as we walk around the inside rooms (including a VIP room and sound stage), the Snowking points out small details and tidbits of how certain elements were changed or modified. The castle’s a big source of pride for the community and I even witness a bride and groom (in -10C temperatures) being photographed ahead of their special day.

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There are several flags flown from the castle: First Nation, Yellowknife, Francophone, Pride, plus a special Acadian flag in honour of Brad Pellerin, a visitor who met the Snowking 16 years back while admiring the castle. He lost his battle to cancer in 2002; every couple of years a new flag is shipped over in his honour to be flown high above.

Edmonton Balkan Dance Band Gadjo Collective with Snowking on right
[Edmonton Balkan dance band Gadjo Collective pose with the Snow King]

Live music and dancing are part of the month-long celebration and hot chocolate is served at the bar. A small VIP area provides a great view of the stage too.

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I’d highly recommend coming here in March to experience the castle, illuminated at night. I saw a few photos taken of the castle with the Auroras above — that must’ve been an amazing experience!

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For live music and other information, visit the Snowking Castle online.

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A big thanks to Hannah Eden at Up Here Magazine for photographing me at the castle as well as to Helly Hansen Canada for helping keep me warm with their cozy faux-fur-lined Eira parka, boots, toque and mittens.

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My visit to Yellowknife was courtesy of Northwest Territories Tourism. Opinions, as always, are my own.

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