The annual Inuvik Sunrise Festival kicks off tonight to celebrate the return of the sun after 30 days of winter darkness.

Jason Nasogaluak

'My late father taught me... just for safety precautions, if we ever happen to break down with no tent,' says Jason Nasogaluak, who helped build the igloo for the Ice Road Cafe. (Elizabeth McMillan/CBC)

This year, the festival will have a new addition: the Ice Road Cafe on frozen Boot Lake.

“It’s not often you’ll see an igloo used here in the Delta,” says Jason Nasogaluak, who helped build the cafe entirely out of snow

Nasogaluak says this is the first igloo he’s built in 26 years.

“My late father taught me and my older brother when we were teenagers, just for safety precautions, if we ever happen to break down with no tent,” Nasogaluak says. “Today we travel with a canvas tent.”

The chilly locale will be a place to get warm drinks and snacks — and the chance to hang out in an igloo — before heading to the bonfire and fireworks planned for Saturday night.

All of which will lead up to a concert with Canadian pop/rock artist Barney Bentall in Inuvik's famed igloo church. 

Attempt to bring more tourists

Inuvik church

Canadian pop/rock singer will hold a concern in Inuvik's igloo church Saturday night. (Philippe Morin)

The Ice Road Cafe is part of an expansion of the festival, in an attempt to draw more tourists from the south to the event. 

Jackie Challis is Inuvik’s manager of economic development and tourism. 

“We decided to expand the program have some unique things that are unique to our region for them to experience.”

Challis says 15 people took advantage of package deals, including airfare and accommodations, that were offered this year to encourage tourists to fly to Inuvik.

The festival gets underway at the community hall tonight, where local chefs are already preparing to serve up "A Taste of Inuvik." That will be followed by drum dancing and an old time dance with James Rogers and the Delta Good Times Band.

Other events to celebrate the return of the sun include a pancake breakfast, and a sunrise edition of the Arctic arts and crafts market.

Starting in May, the community will have 24 hours of daylight.