Discover the extraordinary
Regardless of what time of year you visit, there’s always something happening in Yellowknife. From a weekend music festival in the sand to a month of festivities inside a snow castle on the frozen bay under the Northern Lights, the capital of the Northwest Territories is a vibrant and cosmopolitan northern city.
Here you’ll find excellent restaurants, comfy accommodations and a whole host of colourful locals. One of the best things about Yellowknife, though, is its location. The bustling streets are filled with trendy shops and public art, but take a few steps out of town and you’re surrounded by untouched northern wilderness. In Yellowknife, you’re never more than a few minutes away from a new adventure.
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Top Things To Do
Famous for its unpretentious décor, heaping plates and some of the most succulent and buttered up fish around, Bullocks is the perfect introduction to the eclectic and vibrant Old Town neighbourhood. Choose from whitefish, lake trout, burbot or inconnu caught fresh from Great Slave Lake. (Or try Arctic char or muskoxen from the further north.) And while you wait, tag your name on the crowded walls of one of Yellowknife’s original buildings.
Old Town Glassworks
Walk around to the other side of what pioneering Yellowknifers once called “the Rock” and take a glass-etching workshop at Old Town Glassworks. Here you’ll find a tinkerer’s workshop, with converted washing machines and coffee grinders resourcefully repurposed to help recycle wine bottles into Northern works of art. Create your own Yellowknife keepsake by sand-blasting iconic Northern animals and landmarks onto the glasses.
The Magic Of The Aurora
When the sun goes down in Yellowknife, the adventure is just beginning. See why tens of thousands of visitors flock here each year from all over the world to see the best Northern Lights in the world. There are countless tour operators who can take you out to see the lights: At plush remote lodges or rustic wilderness cabins; by ‘aurora hunting’ excursion, where you chase the lights all night, or on dedicated photography workshop tours. Or find yourself any old dark patch in the city and watch the skies come alive.
Yellowknife really is a cosmopolitan city—and that surprises many first-time visitors. To get a sense of the diversity of the people who call the city home, all you need to do is survey your dining options. You’ll find multiple sushi and Vietnamese options, along with Korean, Filipino and Somalian cuisine just in the downtown core. There’s even Chinese hot pot here. Or, for some of the best Ethiopian fare in all of Canada, drop into Zehabesha.
State Of The Arts
To get a sense of Northern arts and traditions, visit one of Yellowknife’s many art galleries. There’s Northern Images, downtown, an arts co-op that features a collection of prints, carvings and more from all over the North. In Old Town, the Down to Earth Gallery is full of local artworks—from muskox-bone jewellery, to books and music. Right next door, you’ll find the log- walled Gallery of the Midnight Sun, with furs, jewellery, moosehair tufting and other Northern specialties.
Now, get out of town! Experience the wild winter world outside of Yellowknife by letting a team of enthusiastic sled dogs show you their background paradise. Get cozy on your sled as they lead you through a maze of forest trails before shooting across an expanse of a glistening lake to an outfitters cabin. There, warm up with some bannock and tea and show your appreciation to your furry tour guides with some prolonged and well-deserved belly rubs.
For a memorable dining experience visit the Wildcat Café, a vintage log structure and the oldest restaurant in Yellowknife. Find a seat on the sunny patio to watch floatplanes take off and land on Back Bay. Open during the summer only.
For unique accommodations, rent a houseboat to experience an authentic Yellowknife experience.