Yukon River Quest (June 30-July 4)
The world’s longest canoe and kayak race brings together paddlers from all over the globe to battle the elements and each other in a 742-km race that follows the same route explored by the gold-seeking prospectors of the 1890s. Except for two rest stops, competitors are in constant race mode. Spectators, on the other hand, can take in the same breathtaking Yukon scenery without the pressure to perform. The race starts at the Whitehorse waterfront, moves along the Yukon River to the Carmacks—an area rich in coal, copper and gold—and wraps up in Dawson City, once the heart of the Klondike Gold Rush, now known for its frontier-style wooden boardwalks, saloons and summer festivals.
Folk on the Rocks (July 16-18)
This festival has come a long way in the 30 years since founder Rod Russell and his band of folkie go-getters played a small outdoor gig on the shores of Yellowknife’s Frame Lake. Today, the annual event draws visitors and musicians from across the country. Set in a natural amphitheatre on the sandy shores of Long Lake, near Yellowknife, this year’s musical lineup includes Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Justin Rutledge and performances from numerous Aboriginal artists, including Lucie Idlout (see below). Along with the music, crowds can quench their thirst at the beer garden, chow down on a buffalo burger at the food fair, or buy a piece of the local culture in the Art on the Rocks area.
Ukkusiksalik National Park
Named after the soapstone found within its boundaries, Ukkusiksalik National Park is located just below the Arctic Circle, on the northwest coast of Hudson Bay. The 22,000-sq.-km park features a 100-km long inlet, eskers, mud flats, cliffs, rolling tundra banks, eight-metre tides, waterfalls, as well as 500 archaeological sites. The parkland is home to bearded and ringed seals, beluga whales, polar bears, caribou, wolves, Arctic foxes and more than 125 different species of birds. Visitors can access the park from Repulse Bay (via Winnipeg), and touring companies offer camping, hiking and sea kayaking expeditions.
To see what Lucie Idlout picks as her favourite spots, go to Where famous Canucks go to play