Arts and culture thrive in Canada’s north, whatever the season. From the pages of The Great Northern Canada Bucket List, here’s a list of some of the incredible cultural festivals that take place each year in Yukon, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. Who wouldn’t add one or more of the great northern festivals in Canada to their bucket list?
Each April, as the days finally start getting longer, Iqaluit gathers for a week of games, music and feasting. With temperatures still well below zero, this festival brings the community together showcasing Inuit traditions and skills. Events include seal hunting, igloo building, dog team races, fishing and traditional outdoor games.
Held annually since 1955, the Caribou Carnival is a celebration of life in the Far North, evolving from a trappers gathering into a spring celebration that attracts thousands of people from around the region. Catch fiddle parties, survival games and dogsled derbies, and eat off those hangovers at the pancake breakfasts
Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous, Whitehorse
With over 30,000 people enduring temperatures below -40C each winter, this gold rush inspired festival is a chance to squash the cabin fever and release some energy. Participate or support competitors at the Flour Packing Competition, Axe Toss, Chainsaw Chuck, and Log Splitting. Wisely, there are separate activities at the Kids Fest.
Dawson City Music Festival, Dawson City
A weekend music jam in 1979 has grown into one of the highlights of the Yukon summer, drawing artists from around the country to an intimate, rollicking festival. With performances taking place in multiple venues in town, the fest features family-friendly daytime programming, a new age market, and a Midnight Dome fun run/walk.
Folk on the Rocks Festival, Yellowknife
Billed as the biggest party under the midnight sun, Yellowknife slices into summer with 24 hours of cultural programming on six stages, a traditional food fair, beer garden and kids programs. There’s a Battle of the Bands, free outdoor performances, and headline performers from northern and national artists.
Nunavut Arts Festival, Rankin Inlet
Celebrating the rich art and culture of Nunavut, this annual festival brings together the most talented artists of the territory’s twenty-six incorporated communities, showcasing their talents with exhibitions, performances, and workshops.