Ice Castle and Long John Jamboree

Spring is in the air around here – suddenly the air is filled with bird song, the frogs are waking up from their long winters sleep, and the lake ice is melting.  Soon Houseboat 28 will be floating again.  It’s hard to believe that only 6 weeks ago we were walking over to see events at the fabulous Ice Castle on the lake, and celebrating the winter at the Long John Jamboree, Yellowknife’s annual winter carnival.



This year for the first time I had more time than usual to take in the winter carnival and enjoy the concerts on at the castle throughout the month of March.  To my enduring regret, I had to work the night the Norwegian musician performed a concert on instruments he made on the spot, from the ice.  Can you imagine?  My favorite addition to the castle this year was all the windows made from clear lake ice.


Ice windows at the snow castle



Light fixture made of ice – who knew?


ice window – detail

Ice xyolophone

Ice xylophone

The ice castle featured its usual rooms – dance hall, coffee bar, ice sitting area, band stand, children’s outdoor play area, and the fabulous ice slide, with great views over the lake from the top of the stairs.  There was also the annual art show.

Frozen coffee shop at the castle

Frozen coffee shop at the castle

Dance hall in the castle

Dance hall in the castle



View from the top of the slide - endless free parking on the lake.

View from the top of the slide – endless free parking on the lake.

The castle, as usual, had amazing details throughout.


Outside the castle there were the carvings – the local snow carvings, and the international ice carvings competition.  The snow carvings lasted the month, the detail gradually eroding and wobbling as the sun affected the surface of the snow.  The ice carvings came and went quickly –  it was very warm this year.  The crowd favorite and winning entry was the amazing mosquito with his delicate ice legs and wings.

Ice mosquito

Ice mosquito

snow bar carving - front

Drunken snow bar carving

Snow dragon

Snow dragon – a bit melted now

Snow King's ice garden

Snow King’s ice garden

ice whale emerging from ice water

ice whale emerging – how did the get the body of the whale inside the block of ice??

Another favorite of mine this year was the beer garden – who wouldn’t love this bar? I heard it was a joint effort by all the ice carvers.  What fun.


Out on the lake, the dog sled races went on for 3 days – the start and finish line was right outside our door.  It was exciting to watch.


Not a racer

Not a racer

Snow King, the man behind the castle, for some 25 years now.

Snow King, the man behind the castle, for some 25 years now.

Thanks Snow King, for another GREAT season at the castle!!

About Tandi

I love my morning coffee, reading, the wilderness, paddling, poetry, my Spanish husband, and being a doctor. I also love writing my blog, and reading yours.
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9 Responses to Ice Castle and Long John Jamboree

  1. Elaine Turner says:

    Wow! I always love to see the ice castle pics and those carvings were amazing!!!

  2. shoreacres says:

    Every time you post about the ice castle and its related events, I find it harder to pick a favorite. This year, it’s impossible. There’s so much to enjoy, although I will say the mosquito is near the top. The vine twining up along the doorway is wonderful, too.

    The pussy willows make a wonderful backdrop for the post. I’m fond of them, and have been since childhood.

    I loved your previous post about France, too. I have a link to bring you for that one, but tonight I’m limiting my computer time, since I’m fresh from cataract surgery today. I had the laser version, and found the whole thing fascinating. The cataract removal was pretty straightforward and quick. The lens implant was just vaguely science-fictionish, since I was awake (though gently sedated) and got to watch the procedure. Post op visit tomorrow, then a little period of recovery to see how things have worked out, and then surgery on the second eye in two weeks. What a world we live in! (I suspect one eye would have taken me to Paris for a week!)

    • Tandi says:

      I’m glad you could join me on the castle tour – it was particularly spectacular this year, especially as it was very warm – nearly 40 degrees warmer than last year. That makes a difference – it was fun to be outside in the warm sunshine.

      I think it would be quite a challenge to experience cataract surgery – to be awake and see it all. I hope everything goes perfectly for you, and that the post cataract world is full of extra sparkle and zest! I look forward to your link when you have recovered. All the best.

  3. Todd says:

    Carve the whale, then freeze it in another block. 🙂 Would need a closer look to see how the seals might have worked—less pressure with the whale sideways but the patch around the tail makes me wonder about a vertical casting.

    Seriously impressive mosquito!

    • Tandi says:

      The mosquito was even more amazing in person – it was hard to photograph it in that particular location.

      I thought the same thing about the whale carving – I can hardly imagined they did it another way but I think they must have. It was not really cold enough at that time to freeze the ice. The carvings were melting quickly, even during the night. I guess I’ll never really know for sure! Perhaps they carved it out of the block and then put it back in?

  4. I’m, overwhelmed. The castle in its entirety is amazing enough, but the mosquito is way over the top.Love the pussywillow background too. Wonderful post Tandi.

    • Tandi says:

      Thanks so much Kati, that mosquito was amazing – it was difficult to capture its splendor in a photo. I’m glad you could come on the castle ‘tour’ this year!

  5. Stupid09 says:

    It’s amazing how different that area is now. There were ducks and gulls in the water by the woodyard today. I was one of the pilots giving tours that day and have a nice video on my blog that I put together that I think you would enjoy.

    • Tandi says:

      Hi Jason, Thanks so much for stopping by my site and leaving your comments. I really enjoyed the video on your blog – I’m inspired to try some videos of my own. It seems like we have some things in common – I’ve lived here about as long as you. I hope we meet sometime!

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