Embrace the north with these Yukon festivals

Yukon festivals

Fuelled by the energy of endless summer days and inspired by the beauty of pristine winterscapes, Yukon is brimming with exciting sporting events and creative cultural outlets, from summer music events to world-renowned film festivals. Here are just some of our favourite festivities, regardless of when you head north.

Yukon Quest Sled Dog Race — February 6 to 20, 2016

Nascar has nothing on this 1,000 kilometre test of grit, endurance, and cooperation between mushers and the dogs who pull their sleds along the historic paths of Gold Rush prospectors. Fans come from all over the world to watch the gruelling race, which runs from Fairbanks, Alaska and finishes in Whitehorse, with the two cities taking turns as the staring point each year. While in Whitehorse to catch the excitement, spectators can also participate in a number of events surrounding the race, featuring great food, live entertainment, and free mushing rides for kids! Celebrate your inner “sourdough” by volunteering at one of the checkpoints!

Available Light Film Festival — February 7 to 14, 2016

February might be the dreariest month in Canada, but in Yukon it’s a time to celebrate the cream of contemporary Canadian and northern film. Held in Whitehorse every year for the past decade, the Available Light Film Festival (ALFF) combines award-winning films with industry workshops and filmmaker forums, letting you cozy up with the best and brightest of the north during the darkest days of winter.

Discover the secrets behind building a 60-foot ice tower in downtown Whitehorse.

Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Festival — February 24 to 28, 2016

Filling out the “something for everyone” category, the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Festival is an annual winter carnival in Whitehorse that promises to entertain your thermal-lined pants off. Started in 1945 as an excuse to burn off steam and brighten winter’s darkest days, the festival combines everything from Can Can dancing and snow shoe shuffling to axe throwing and chainsaw chucking.

Thaw di Gras Spring Carnival — March 18 to 20, 2016

When winter means short days, the first day of spring is a big deal. And there’s no better way to ring in the spring than at the Thaw di Gras Spring Carnival. Packed into a square kilometre of Dawson City every March, the carnival bids farewell to winter blues with everything from dogsled races and axe throwing to finding loonies in a haystack. And best of all, attendance is free!

Annual Crane and Sheep Viewing Festival — May 6 to 8, 2016

Every May, thousands of crimson-capped sandhill cranes pass through Yukon as they migrate to their nesting grounds in Alaska and Siberia. And the town of Faro is the perfect spot to spectate. Grab your binoculars and your Audubon guide and head out to the Annual Crane and Sheep Viewing Festival, where you’ll also see plenty of Fannin Sheep.

Adäka Cultural Festival — Jul 01, 2016 – Jul 07, 2016

Showcasing over 150 artists, the Adäka Cultural Festival is the place to celebrate First Nations culture! Located in Whitehorse, Yukon, the festival has a mission to develop and deliver world-class music, dancing, art, workshops, and cultural experiences. Experience this vibrant and inspirational festival on the banks of the Yukon River this summer!

Dawson City Music Festival — July 22 to 24, 2016

When the Yukon summer is in full swing, Dawson City fills its streets—and its 22 hours of daylight—with an eclectic mix of folk, roots, country, and every other genre under the midnight sun. Valuing diversity and void of pretension, “Canada’s tiny, perfect festival” is teeming with incredible talent from Canada and beyond. Be sure to buy tickets early, as they can sell out months in advance!

Looking for a thrill? Watch six teams go head to head in the annual “speed ice climbing” event!