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Home Story Best Fests!

Best Fests!
Experience the finest
summer events in Canada's party-hardy North

There’s tons of great reasons to visit the Northwest Territories this time of year, like the midnight sun, golden lakes, and 40-pound trout. But our best summer feature is our festivals. Check out famous Folk on the Rocks, a weekend-long musical extravaganza on the shores of Yellowknife’s Long Lake. Revel in Indigenous performances, paintings, sculptures and crafts at the Great Northern Arts Festival in Inuvik. Or tee off in the world’s northernmost golf tourney, the Billy Joss Open in exotic Ulukhaktok.

Scroll down to discover more about our stunning summer fests, and explore other amazing events in the spectacular Northwest Territories.

The Great Northern Arts Festival

A dizzying showcase of polar sights and sounds, the Arctic’s greatest gathering of creative types occurs over 10 days in mid-July in the heart of colourful Inuvik. Witness (and perhaps purchase!) the masterworks of 80-plus printmakers, carvers, ceramic artists and more, and experience dozens of drum-dancers, throatsingers and actors from across the Canadian and circumpolar Norths.

Discover more about the Great Northern Arts Festival.

the BILLY JOSS OPEN CELEBRITY GOLF TOURNAMENT

Sprawling across the stony tundra of Victoria Island in Canada’s High Arctic, the world’s northernmost golf course is delightfully ‘in the rough.’ The finest time to hit the links is during the Billy Joss Open, typically held in the third week of July, when the pros of friendly Ulukhaktok welcome adventuresome duffers to tee off in a tourney for Northern literacy.

Discover more about the Billy Joss Open Celebrity Golf Tournament.

FOLK ON THE ROCKS

The North’s biggest music festival takes the stage in mid-July at Long Lake near Yellowknife for a groovy, glorious weekend of local, national and global music, plus specialty food, arts and crafts. Wintersleep, Lido Pimienta, Snotty Nose Rez Kids and Leela Gilday headlined last year’s festival.

Discover more about Folk on the Rocks.

The Land of the Pingos Music Festival

If your rhythm is mellower than Folk on the Rocks, head to the top of the world for this down-home musical shindig. The festival boasts Inuvialuit performers, a traditional jigging contest, and a cookout that’s likely to feature Arctic delicacies. It all happens just metres from the Arctic Ocean, in view of the famous ‘pingo’ mounds that loom over little Tuktoyaktuk, typically at the end of July or early August.

Discover more about the Land of the Pingos Music Festival.

Slave River Paddlefest

Up north, canoeing and kayaking are a splash, and never more so than at Paddlefest, Fort Smith’s annual celebration of frothy fun on Canada’s finest whitewater river. During the August long weekend, there are races, contests, lessons and shore-side entertainment for everyone from landlubbing novices to playboating pros.

Discover more about the Slave River Paddlefest.

Oldtown Ramble & Ride

Weird and wonderful, this early August event celebrates the North’s most charming neighborhood, offbeat Old Town, Yellowknife. With booths and stages sprinkled among the lakeview shacks and mansions, it’s an eco-friendly festival that brings together local merchants, artists and musicians for tunes, craft sales, demonstrations, rides and more.

Discover more about the Old Town Ramble & Ride.

Thebacha & Wood Buffalo Dark Sky Festival

When night comes back to the North, stargazers and Aurora-watchers flock to Wood Buffalo National Park, the world’s largest ‘dark sky preserve.’ There, on the last weekend of August, the local astronomical society will set up telescopes, present ‘stellar seminars’ and other workshops, and host the Circus of Science for kids.

Discover more about the Thebacha and Wood Buffalo Dark Sky Festival.

The Trout Rock Fly-Fishing Derby

Hosted by legendary Trout Rock Lodge on the North Arm of Great Slave Lake not far from Yellowknife, the annual Trout Rock Fly-Fishing Derby features fly-fishing lessons, shore lunches, idyllic northern scenery, and more feisty Pike than you can swing a rod at. The fish bite all summer, but the derby happens in early July.

Discover more about the Trout Rock Fly-Fishing Derby.

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