We are just two days away from Toonik Tyme – Iqaluit's week-long spring celebration of all things Arctic. The annual festival is in its 49th year, and the schedule is packed. Here are some of the events and activities we are looking forward to most. Our picks focus on the opening and closing weekends. For the entire schedule, including activities throughout the week, please check this printable chart.
Friday, April 11: Opening Day
Opening Celebrations The official start of Toonik Tyme, the Opening Celebrations include performances by local groups, like the Inuksuk Drum Dancers (see video below for their Arctic Winter Games rehearsal performance), prizes, and food. NTI is also inviting people to come to the curling rink early for an extra-large sealfie.
Adult Ice Golf This is exactly what it sounds like: golf on ice. This is also great opportunity to try your hand at real winter golfing (make sure you hit the green...er, white?) You could even make the front page of Nunatsiaq News, much like our friends did two years ago. Or heat things up with an Arctic spoof of the Paulina Gretzky Golf Digest cover – that'll make the front page for sure.
Saturday, April 12
Giant Craft Sale One of the most-anticipated events of the week, the Giant Craft Sale, is a smorgasbord of Northern art, crafts, food, and supplies. Similar to the Christmas Craft Sale, the Toonik Tyme version is very, very popular, meaning you need to get there early to get in and get first dibs on all the wares. You can bet your kamiik that we will be in line by 08:30.
Country Food Market This temporary outdoor market will allow hunters to sell their catch of caribou, char, or seal, and will give Iqalummiut access to food from the land. Like the Giant Craft Sale beforehand, try to get to the Country Food Market as early as possible, before all the good bits are bought!
Iglu Building Contest It's always a toss-up between iglu building and skijoring (a cross between skiing and dogsledding), but the igluit have a slight edge because the contest is judged by the formidable iglu-builder, Solomon Awa (check out #awafeats on Twitter for some humourous history on this local legend). Igluit are judged based on how fast they are built, stability, and aesthetics. Dress warmly if you want to watch this event; it can take a while!
Sunday, April 13
Traditional Dog Team Race Get to the sea ice bright and early to see the dog teams take off. This is more of a marathon than a sprint, so you will have plenty of time (3-4 hours!) to check out a few other activities if you want to see the teams cross the finish line.
Outdoor Traditional Games/HARPOON THROW Two words: HARPOON. THROW. Using traditionally-made tools and weapons, contestants will try to prove who is the quickest, strongest, and best at a host of Inuit games, such as the Head Pull, the Knuckle Hop, and the Inuit High Kick (see video below). AND THEN HARPOON THROW!
Saturday, April 19: Closing Day
Snowmobile Drag Races Also known as The Fast and the Furious and the Frozen (okay, not actually). The contestants are placed in categories depending on their machines (size of engine, length of track, whether or not it is modified), while the spectators watch from the edges of the ice track. Not too close, though: this is a dangerous sport, made all the more so because a snowmobile drag racer is most certainly one of these people.
Closing Feast If you've ever wanted to sample polar bear, seal, caribou, or whale meat, here is your chance! The Closing Feast gives all Toonik Tymers the chance to reminisce over country food about the week's festivities, all while tapping their toes and do-si-doing to the music of master accordionist, Simeonie Keenainak.