Throughout the year, the Yukon is home to a wide array of festivals and events, from music and arts festivals to extreme sporting events. We’ve gathered a selection of some of our favourite annual events here. There are also one-off and spontaneous events and festivals that take place through the year – check with our media relations team for the latest information.
Yukon Quest International Sled Dog RaceFebruary Whitehorse, Dawson City, Fairbanks Alaska
The legendary Yukon Quest challenges mushers and their dog teams to traverse the frozen wilderness between Whitehorse, Yukon and Fairbanks, Alaska each February. Spectators from around the world travel to the Yukon to witness the event live, while thousands follow the race progress online.
Available Light Film FestivalFebruary Whitehorse
Canada's largest feature film festival north of the 60th parallel is a celebration of Northern, Canadian and international cinema and takes place in the heart of winter in Whitehorse. The festival features fiction and documentary films, multi-disciplinary performances, workshops and a Media Industry Forum with filmmakers and industry delegates.
Yukon Rendezvous FestivalFebruary Whitehorse
For a week every February, Whitehorse celebrates its frontier spirit and heritage with the Sourdough Rendezvous Festival. With quirky “only in the Yukon” events such as chainsaw chucking, axe throwing, flour packing and dog sledding, this is a truly unique event.
Yukon Arctic UltraFebruary Whitehorse
This is the world’s coldest and most challenging ultra. The series of multi-day races takes place over 100, 300 and 430 mile distances in three disciplines - mountain bikes, cross country skis or by foot – and follows the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race route.
For more information visit Yukon Arctic Ultra
Trek Over the TopMarch Dawson City
The Yukon’s premier snowmobile event, this international snowmobile run covers 320 km (200 mi.) from Tok, Alaska to Dawson City along the Top of the World Highway which is inaccessible to traffic during winter.
Percy DeWolfe Memorial Mail RaceMarch Dawson City
This dog sled race started back in 1977 as a way to honour the legendary Percy DeWolfe. Percy carried mail by dog team, horse and boat between Dawson and Eagle, Alaska, from 1910 to 1949. The first official race start time of 10am is always symbolically reserved for Percy’s spirit. The first musher to actually depart leaves at 10.02 and carries a bag of mail from Dawson to Eagle.
For more information visit the Percy DeWolfe Memorial Mail Race
Dawson City International Short Film FestivalMarch Dawson City
The Dawson City International Short Film Festival is among the most northern competitive film festivals in the world. This four day celebration of short film presents films of all genres from around the world as well as those made in the Yukon. There are also special events such as panel discussions, meet and greets, workshops, and awards.
A Celebration of SwansApril Swan Haven (near Whitehorse)
Every spring, migratory birds descend on the Yukon en masse in a beautiful display of nature at its finest. The Celebration of Swans is the territory’s premier bird festival, highly anticipated by locals and visitors alike for the sight of thousands of Trumpeter Swans in their natural habitat.
Crane and Sheep Viewing FestivalMay Faro
At the beginning of May, Sandhill Cranes migrate to nesting grounds in western Alaska and North-eastern Siberia. Visitors can see the birds funnel through the Yukon's Tintina Trench, swooping, soaring and riding thermals right over the Town of Faro. The festival also showcases Fannin sheep, tours of the area, natural history talks, and family entertainment.
Kluane Mountain Bluegrass FestivalJune Haines Junction
This world-renowned festival attracts international audiences and world-class performers to Haines Junction for the best bluegrass bands in North America in one of the most spectacular settings in the world. A weekend of fabulous music and Yukon hospitality.
For more information visit Kluane Mountain Bluegrass Festival.
Commissioner’s Tea and Klondike BallJune Dawson City
Held each year in recognition of the Yukon officially joining the Dominion of Canada, the regal Commissioner's Ball is held at Dawson City's Palace Grand Theatre. Dress is formal and many take the opportunity to dress in the styles of 1898. A tea is held during the day at the Commissioner's Residence.
Kluane Chilkat International Bike RelayJune Haines Junction, Haines Alaska
The Kluane Chilkat race is an eight-leg road bike relay from Haines Junction, Yukon to coastal Haines, Alaska, that attracts both joy riders and serious athletes. The course takes participants through alpine passes and past ocean views on a variety of flat stretches, steep descents and long climbs.
National Aboriginal DayJune
National Aboriginal Day is celebrated across the Yukon. In Dawson City the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre celebrates with outdoor events including the Hän Singers, live contemporary music, tours, activities, refreshments and an opportunity to visit their heritage galleries.
The Yukon River Quest Canoe and Kayak RaceJune-July Whitehorse
The world’s longest annual kayak and canoe race, “the race to the midnight sun,” as Yukon River Quest is known, challenges paddlers from around the world to test their endurance on a race from Whitehorse to Dawson City. The race start is an exciting spectacle that draws large crowds to the banks of the Yukon River in downtown Whitehorse.
Hà Kus Teyea CelebrationJuly (biennial – the next Celebration will be 2017) Teslin
The Hà Kus Teyea Celebration is a three day cultural festival that starts with a traditional lake crossing and arrival in a Tlingit canoe, followed by a greeting ceremony and the lighting of the Celebration Fire. The event features public art workshops, cultural demonstrations, storytelling, traditional canoe events, First Nation performers, an artist’s market, and a public feast each evening followed by cultural performances.
Yukon Gold Panning ChampionshipsJuly Dawson City
Celebrating the Yukon’s heritage as well as its still thriving mining industry, this competition is open to panners of all ages and skill levels. Each entrant is given an equal amount of dirt that contains five to twelve gold flakes as small as ground pepper. The winner is the person who finds the most flakes of gold in the shortest time.
For more information visit Yukon Gold Panning Championships
Discovery Days FestivalAugust Dawson City
The Yukon celebrates our grand gold rush history with this week-long event in Dawson City. The festival includes family-friendly events such as crafts, face painting and a sampling of the Diamond Tooth Gerties' can-can dancers show, to writing competitions, walking tours, an arts festival and a golf tournament.
The Great Klondike Outhouse RaceAugust Dawson City
A Dawson tradition since the 1970’s, teams of five dress in costume and decorate their outhouse for a race through the streets of town. The outhouses are metal structures with wheels and teams are judged on creativity, design, theme and team spirit. All are welcome to join in with outhouses available for rent from the Klondike Visitors Association.
For more information visit the Great Klondike Outhouse Race
Klondike Trail of ’98 International Road RelaySeptember Skagway, Alaska to Whitehorse, Yukon
This road relay follows the trail of the Klondike Gold Rush stampeders over the famous White Pass from Skagway, Alaska to Whitehorse. Commencing at sea level, the course climbs to an elevation of 1,004 metres (3,294 ft). The 175km (109 mi.) relay is divided into 10 legs that vary in distance from 9 – 25.6km (5.6 – 15.9 mi.) and is run or walked by teams of 4 to 10 participants.