True North Living » Travel » Exploring Western Canada » How Yellowknife Is Setting the Bar on Northern Fun

Canadians are craving unique travel destinations. Yellowknife is all that and more — a one-of-a-kind city, with one-of-a-kind experiences. It’s a year-round destination and the first stop on a Northwest Territories adventure.

Yellowknife bills itself as the wildest little city on Earth. And who can argue? Nature meets city here. Perched on the edge of Great Slave Lake, one of the largest lakes in the world, a city rises next to the lake, yet you’re only minutes away from nature, trails, and wildlife. You can enjoy the amenities of a large city and a community that’s friendly and welcoming.

Yellowknife is a year-round destination. Summers are bright, with 20 hours of daylight. This means you can play in the outdoors any time of day. How cool would it be to swim, kayak, or go for a bike ride at midnight? It’s the kind of experience you can only get in the north.

And winter is just as cool. In fact, if you visit at the right time during a cold snap, you can witness phenomena seen nowhere else: icy rainbows frozen in the sky, thick ice fog, or lakes frozen so thick you can hear the ice pinging and popping under pressure. And those darker days provide a backdrop for one of the world’s most spectacular natural light shows — the northern lights. Outdoor activities abound — dogsledding, skiing, snowshoeing, or visiting a snow castle. Imagine all the stories you’ll be able to share.

When you want a break from outdoor adventures, Yellowknife’s artistic side is waiting. Marvel at (and take home with you) works of art in the city’s many art galleries, or learn about the culture, art, and traditions of the Indigenous peoples. This culturally-rich city will surprise you.

Five Must-Dos When You Visit Canada’s Capital of Cool

Join the party

The fun never ends in Yellowknife. With year-round festivals and events to keep you entertained (and well-fed), Yellowknife is always up for a party. But there’s something special about experiencing the midnight sun. And if you get yourself to the city on the longest day of the year, you’re in for an extra special kind of party. Enjoy a street carnival, midnight sun golf tournament, day-long tribute to Indigenous culture and peoples, and so much more. And a must-attend is the biggest party in the north, Folks on the Rocks, one of Canada’s top summertime music and cultural festivals.

Be wowed by Earth’s natural light show

Yellowknife is one of the best places on the planet to view the northern lights. And with 28 weeks between the two main viewing seasons — late summer/autumn and winter — you’ll have a great chance to witness the magic. Local operators are waiting to give you a one-of-a-kind northern lights experience.

Go for a drive…northern style

Dogsledding, a traditional form of transportation in the north, is one of those once-in-a-lifetime activities. You can either sit comfortably in a toboggan with canvas sides or become a musher and learn to harness and drive your own team of dogs. Or try kicksledding for a memorable experience. If watching is more your thing, then you’ll want to catch the Canadian Championship Dog Derby, Yellowknife’s biggest dog sledding event, held over three days in March on the Great Slave Lake near the Dettah ice road.

Find out why Yellowknife is a gem of a city

Yellowknife’s history was paved in gold, but the city is now the hub of Canada’s sparkling diamond industry. Some of the purest diamonds in the world come from the area around Yellowknife. There’s nothing like buying local. Shop for a diamond for someone special (or for yourself) at one of the many shops or learn the art of diamond mining through an interactive tour.

Learn how you can make some Yellowknife memories

Visit the new location of the Yellowknife Visitor Centre, opening this year at Centre Square Mall (downtown), where helpful staff can give you lots of ideas on activities so you can have the best experience in this one-of-a-kind northern city. You can get a free North of 60 certificate and a Yellowknife pin to take home with you. The Visitor Centre also boasts a non-commercial art gallery displaying local artwork.

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