North

Dancing, igloos, ice slide part of Inuvik festival to mark return of the sun

Inuvik will officially welcome back the sun on Saturday for the first time since it set on Dec. 5.

Town hasn't seen the sun since it set on Dec. 5

People gather at a sunrise festival in Inuvik. This year the town is marking its 31st annual festival to celebrate the return of the sun. (Phillippe Morin/CBC)

Inuvik will officially welcome back the sun on Saturday for the first time since it set on Dec. 5.

Tourists have started to drift into town as organizers put the finishing touches on the 31st annual Inuvik Sunrise Festival.

Kylik Kisoun-Taylor runs Tundra North Tours and helped build an ice village in the Twin Lakes area. He says it's been stepped up a notch this year.

"We added a teepee, we added some ice igloos, some sculptures, the sliding hill is a little bit bigger for the kids. It's definitely bigger than last year, a little bit more interactive."

The three-day festival will be held predominantly at the Midnight Sun Complex and Twin Lakes.

Kylik Kisoun-Taylor runs Tundra North Tours and says this year's ice village is better than ever. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

'Hibernation time' over

Kisoun-Taylor says the 24/7 darkness is "hibernation time" for people after non-stop daylight in the summer.

"I feel like this town really shuts down. The restaurants aren't as busy, everyone is really recuperating, and then once the sun comes out, everyone comes back alive."

He says while it's not the busiest time of year for tourists, it's a popular time for relatives to visit their loved ones.

"If you are going to visit, this is the time of year to do it," he said.

"It's really nice to see because you want to show off where you live and what better time to show it off than when there is all of this great stuff to look, at a festival, bonfire and fireworks."

'It makes me lazy,' says Altaher Mohammed, of the long, dark winters. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

Mackenzie Chauvin took advantage of seat sales to visit his cousin. He and a friend travelled from Windsor, Ont., booking a 'Canada 150' discounted air pass through Air North.

"They started talking to us about the sunrise festival and the darkness and that it's really just a good time to get an authentic visit to see what Inuvik's about."

Canadian North is also offering a discount to travellers going to Inuvik for the festival.

Brighter days ahead

For locals, the festival is also a time to celebrate with family and look forward to brighter days.

Altaher Mohammed, who is originally from Sudan, has lived in Inuvik for 12 years. He said the lack of sun is still something to get used to.

"Where I come from back home, has a lot of sun. When I came here and find that it's somewhere where I have no sun, it's really hard for me. It makes me lazy."

Chris Sharpe, marketing and communications coordinator for the Town of Inuvik, standing in the ice village. It's his first Inuvik winter. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

Chris Sharpe, the marketing and communications coordinator for the Town of Inuvik, says there are some new activities this year, like a DJ workshop and dance party. A well-known Canadian musician and songwriter, Norman Foote, will host a workshop and concert.

This is Sharpe's first Inuvik winter — he says the darkness and the sun returning is truly a unique northern experience.

"I recommend it to everybody. If you live on this earth, you should try everything at least once. I'm really glad I experienced it, and I'm super excited the sun is coming back," he laughed.

The festival launches at 6 p.m. Friday with food from local vendors at Taste of Inuvik, followed by drum dancing and jigging.

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