Best of Yurt Fest 2014


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The fifth annual Yurt Fest took place this past weekend in Iqaluit. As Yurt Fest sophomores, we decided to put a little extra effort into our apparel this year with epic costumes from Kigurumi. However, our efforts were more than exceeded by the event itself.

Anubha and Sara at Yurt Fests 2013 and 2014.

What is Yurt Fest?

In its most basic sense, it's a party on the sea ice in a yurt. But in reality, it is so much more. Part costume party, part blazing bonfire, part all-night rave, Yurt Fest is a hula hooping, fire twirling, sparkler waving extravaganza. This year's festival upped the ante by featuring live music courtesy of the charismatic Rich Kidd and wicked DJ mixes compliments of Vice Canada.

Yurt Fest is hosted by members of Pittarak and Project Nunavut. Rumour has it the McNair-Landrys learned how to build a yurt while adventuring through Mongolia, then brought that knowledge back to their hometown of Iqaluit. Fact or fiction? We don't know. But we prefer it that way.

We imagine planning Yurt Fest 2014 went something like this: pick an undisclosed spot on the sea ice, erect a yurt, haul wooden pallets, build a massive Melting Man, fire up a generator, set up speakers, email the GPS coordinates to Iqaluit's most festive folks, and let the night unfold.

For this blog post, we've compiled the "Best of Yurt Fest." If you attended, we hope this post does Iqaluit's biggest (only?) festival justice. If you did not, we hope this post convinces you to join us next year.

Please note: Names have been withheld, where appropriate, to protect the privacy of certain Yurt Festers and ensure their future employability.

Best Mode of Transportation

Yurt Fest shuttle service. Photo by Anubha.

Yurt Fest shuttle service. Photo by Anubha.

The most common way to get to and from Yurt Fest is via snowmobile, whether as a driver, passenger, or in a qamotik. This year, however, there were a number of intrepid partygoers who traversed the 5 km across the sea ice in more, shall we say, active ways:

Cross-Country Skiing: Skiing is perhaps the best way to get out of town at this time of year, as it allows you to avoid the somewhat precarious driving conditions (at least one snowmobile ended up sinking into a puddle en route to Yurt Fest) and it also ensures you will have a safe way to get home should you indulge in a few too many sips of mulled wine from a travel mug. Heck, you'll probably be sober by the time you get home.

Skiing to the yurt. Photo by Sean Doherty.

Skiing to the yurt. Photo by Sean Doherty.

Walking: Not for the impatient, a leisurely 60-minute walk to the yurt is another option. Kudos to those who chose this route, especially our friend Bibi, who combined the walk with interpretive dance, self-reflection, and tequila.

Best Dressed

We weren't the only ones who took Yurt Fest to the next sartorial level. Here are some of the most creative and unexpected outfits of the night:

Plaid on Plaid on Plaid: Keeping warm and representing Canada from head-to-toe.

Stephanie, Sophia, and Willie sporting the latest in flannel. Photo by Anubha.

Stephanie, Sophia, and Willie sporting the latest in flannel. Photo by Anubha.

This Hat: If this wasn't meant to be worn in the yurt, then we don't know about anything anymore.

No surprise that Alex procured this hat at Piviniit. Photo by Anubha.

No surprise that Alex procured this hat at Piviniit. Photo by Anubha.

Flight Suits: Okay, so there was only a singular flight suit – a maverick in more ways than one!

Erika Marteleira-Cruise. Photo by Anubha.

Erika Marteleira-Cruise. Photo by Anubha.

The Wig from Lost in TranslationSarah steals the spotlight from the rapper in a sealskin coat.

Willie and Sarah, Yurt Fest's organizers, being interviewed by Rich Kidd for Vice Canada. Photo by Anubha.

Willie and Sarah, Yurt Fest's organizers, being interviewed by Rich Kidd for Vice Canada. Photo by Anubha.

Best Pyrotechnics

Yurt Fest was partly inspired by Burning Man, and is thus a haven for the pyro in us all.

Flaming Bow and Arrow/Roman Candle Bonfire Ignition: When your Plan A is a gas-soaked arrowhead and your Plan B is a roman candle barrage, you know things are going to get hot.

Plan A: John Manzo and his flaming arrow. It was also his birthday! Photo by Anubha

Plan A: John Manzo and his flaming arrow. It was also his birthday! Photo by Anubha

Plan B: Roman candle FTW. Photo by Sara.

Plan B: Roman candle FTW. Photo by Sara.

The Melting Man: This year's theme was Return of the Melting Man, a 12-foot snowman on a pallet-and-cardboard throne. True to his name, he melted, in the middle of a massive bonfire that burned through the night.

Headless Melting Man. Photo by Anubha.

Headless Melting Man. Photo by Anubha.

Fire Twirlers: LOOK AT THE SWIRLS OF FIRE SO PRETTY I WANT TO TOUCH.

Fire dancers. Photo by Nickolas Kofod.

Fire dancers. Photo by Nickolas Kofod.

Chinese Lanterns: The softer side of Yurt Fest: the release of dozens and dozens of paper lanterns into the twilight sky.

A magical moment, as the lanterns drift towards the town. Photo by Sara.

A magical moment, as the lanterns drift towards the town. Photo by Sara.

Best Musical Interludes

As stated above, for the first time this year Yurt Fest included LIVE MUSIC, courtesy of the Juno Award-nominated Rich Kidd. But his brand of catchy, energetic hip hop wasn't the only melodic offering of the night.

Freestyle/Throat-Singing Mashup: Rich Kidd melted our Arctic hearts when he started to spit rhymes over live throat-singing courtesy of the amazing Kathleen Merritt and Marie Viivi Belleau.

Mic Heist: When Steve Rigby of the Jerry Cans stole the mic from Rich Kidd and began rapping about life in Iqaluit and his notorious after parties. "Who has been to a party at 453?!"

Best WTF Moments

When Iqalummiut and their friends and family get into party mode, it's only matter of time until things get weird.

Rich Kidd Crowdsurfing in the Yurt: There were three feet of clearance. Max.

Mystical Bestiality: We can't be responsible for the behaviour of our spirit animals.

Why Yurt Fest, why?! Photo by Curtis Jones (thanks, Curtis).

Why Yurt Fest, why?! Photo by Curtis Jones (thanks, Curtis).

Shirtless Judo Wrestling in the Snow: Parties involved will remain unnamed.

Emerging from the Yurt to Full Daylight...at 02:00.

Peering out from the yurt to the brightness of the world north of 60. Photo by Anubha.

Peering out from the yurt to the brightness of the world north of 60. Photo by Anubha.

Sea Ice Vom: The vividness of red wine vomit on a fresh blanket of snow will be forever seared in our memory. Photo withheld because gross.

Did you attend Yurt Fest 2014? Leave a comment or send us a tweet, using the hashtag #yurtfest2014.