Eighteen hundred blocks of ice, each one weighing more than 135 kg – that’s what it takes to build an ice castle built for a king.

In this case, the winter monarch is Bonhomme: king of the Quebec Winter Carnival.

This year’s ice palace, with a two-week construction time frame, is breaking the traditional mold. Two first-year Laval University students entered a class contest, presenting what would ultimately go on to be the winning design for this year’s castle.

“We worked on it, but it was much smaller,” explained Sandrine Arguin-Marchand. “Now what we had in our head becomes reality, and it’s cool to see that. I think it’s the most incredible feeling that we can have as far as being an architecture student.”

“We were lucky it worked out well,” said Daniel-Alexandre Bleau, the second half of the winning design team.

This year’s ice palace will offer visitors a multimedia experience, complete with video projections, a soundtrack, and a light show.

“It’s a 15 to 20 minute experience – it’s all brand new, it’s the first time we’re turning the Bonhomme ice palace into something really technological,” said Melanie Raymond, the carnival’s General Manager.

Incidentally, the construction of the modernized ice castle began the same week that the carnival lost a man instrumental in bringing the castle and ice sculptures to life for nearly two decades.

Michel Lepire died this week, but his legacy lingers on the festival grounds.

“He’s an amazing artist – he left his mark here,” Raymond added.

In fact, Lepire’s son Marc and grandson Mathieu are toiling away on the carnival site, working on the palace with the same dedication that preceded them.

In the end, organizers are hoping that the innovations and new traditions will be well-received by even the most faithful of “Carnavaleux.”