Unusual adventures and hidden discoveries. Explore our 2018 trips now »

Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

Long John Jamboree

After a long, dark winter in the upper latitudes, Yellowknife knows how to let it all out in unparalleled style. 

Stir-crazy? Shack-wacky? Cabin fever? No matter which euphemism you favor, the experience itself is very real. But depending on the moment, that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

This is key piece of knowledge that people of all upper- and southernmost reaches of the Earth learn to embrace at a molecular level—otherwise they wouldn’t survive in the periods of extreme darkness that accompany winter. Following this logic, if for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, the reemergence of light then justifies a really good excision of these winter crazies. 

Enter: the Long John Jamboree at Yellowknife Bay.

Each spring, more than a thousand vehicles (trucks, snowmobiles, helicopters, etc.) packed with residents bursting with camaraderie congregate atop the frozen Great Slave Lake in celebration of the end of those long, dark northern winter days. The fashion in which they revel is nothing short of spectacular, even as insulated coveralls remain the smartest sartorial choice. Events include the Ugly Truck and Dog contest, a snow volleyball tournament, the De Beers Inspired Ice Carving Competition, a Seniors Tea, an igloo building competition, the requisite beard-off, and more.

In conditions of such unparalleled merriment, pilgrims to the Long John Jamboree would be forgiven were they to forget this pageantry still takes place in temperatures that are downright frigid. Hence the warmth of spirits – both liquid and human – emanating from all sides.

Know Before You Go

Drive down to Old Town and drive onto one of Yellowknife Bay's iceroads, you can't miss it, the huge parking lot is atop Great Slave Lake!