Story Ideas

10 things you need to know about…Canada’s northern festivals.

Head north of the 60th parallel to celebrate events including throat singing, midnight-sun golf, caribou stew and giant snow castles.

02 April 2014

Suggested tweet: Canada’s North has unique sporting, cultural + community events all year-round #explorecanada

Canada’s North is full of community spirit, rich with regional culture and blessed with natural wonders. Head to Yukon, Northwest Territories or Nunavut and you’ll meet people and communities who are always ready to celebrate their culture.

1) Wear a crown of snow: Step onto the frozen expanses of Northwest Territories’ Great Slave Lake in March to admire ice carvings, dance to fiddle music and revel in community spirit—all centred around a massive snow castle—during Yellowknife’s month-long Snowking festival (March 1-31).

2) Here comes the sun: Kicked off by the ceremonial lighting of a qulliq (seal-oil lamp), Iqaluit’s Toonik Tyme (April 11-20) commemorates the end of Nunavut’s long, dark winter with throat singing, skijoring, igloo building and caribou stew.

3) Moose fur and modern dance:The only arts showcase in Northwest Territories’ Deh Cho region, the Open Sky Festival (June 20-22) features traditional fiddling, modern dance, storytelling and arts workshops in Fort Simpson, a remote township on the scenic Mackenzie River.

4) Bogies at 12 o’clock:Tee off at midnight on the summer solstice (June 21) and play nine holes during Yellowknife’s Canadian North Midnight Classic golf tournament. Banquets and seminars are part of the package, while special rules apply if a fox or raven steals your ball.

5) Ride hard, party harder:Bring your mountain bike to Whitehorse, YK, for 24 Hours of Light (June 28-29)—a 60-minute all-ability bike race that punctuates two days of revelry under the never-setting solstice sun.

6) Rich culture, present and past: The Adäka Cultural Festival (June 27-July 3), set within Whitehorse’s stunning Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre, assembles Aboriginal musicians, storytellers, artisans and dancers for a showcase that ranges from hip-hop performances to traditional drumming.

7) Music atop the world:Iqaluit’s Alianait Arts Festival (June 27-July 1) brings musicians from around the globe to Baffin Island for a five-day showcase.

8) Arctic artisans assemble:The Great Northern Arts Festival (July 11-20) attracts the Arctic’s best artists and appreciators to Inuvik, NWT. Learn feather-work and stone carving; gumboot-dance to drum performances and throat singing; and admire Inuit dolls and elaborate mukluks.

9) Summertime on the Shield:The North’s largest musical event, Yellowknife’s Folk on the Rocks (July 17-20) heats up the stony shores of Long Lake with a four-day multifaceted concert alongside eclectic visual artists and complemented by tantalizing food stands.

10) Rock out in the Klondike: A Yukon signature event, the Dawson City Music Festival (July 18-20) celebrates the rhythm of the north at six venues throughout the historic township. Expect rock, blues, jazz, world beat and even children’s music to sound out across the Klondike.

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