Regions: Klondike, Whitehorse Region Communities: Dawson City, Whitehorse
Themes: Heritage & Culture Categories: Heritage & Culture, Shopping, Festivals and Events

In the land where Rudolph stops to refuel, we make Christmas count.

What looks like a snow globe but has a Santa driving a garbage truck? We’ll give you a hint: It starts with “Y” and rhymes with “Dukon.” From the cozy to the downright kooky, we’ve got 5 holiday highlights you’d hate to miss.

01 Activity

O Christmas tree

What better way to kick off your Klondike holiday season than by lighting a 50-foot tall Christmas tree in Whitehorse? The folks who bravely decorate this tree, untangling tiny lights on too-high ladders, have a permanent spot on the Nice List. Thanks to their courage, Yukoners gather together as part of the Winterval Festival to watch this enormous evergreen come to life. 20,000 lights strong and standing guard over the White Pass building, the tree is hard to miss. And while you’re at it, take a peek at the building itself. Built in 1900 to service the Klondike Gold Rush, it was destroyed in the fire of 1905 along with the rest of downtown Whitehorse. But fear not, they rebuilt it. And it now stands witness to the rotating roster of trees that the city finds and puts up every Christmas. As for the origins of this year’s tree—that’s a mystery. Whitehorse likes to keep its secrets.

02 Activity

The festivals and the fairs

Remember that Winterval Festival we mentioned? No, this is not a pop quiz, we promise. The lighting of the gigantic evergreen is all part of the Winterval and Santa Claus Parade in Whitehorse, complete with an enormous ice cube mosaic and the friendliest mukluk-clad Santa. If you fancy trying your hand at kicksledding or doing a Polar Express Lights Tour, we’d suggest a visit to The Santa Land & Christmas Lights Tour. And if it’s last-minute gifts you’re seeking, look no further than the 12 Days of Christmas Firewood Community Market. You’ll find some unique handcrafted Yukon treasures you’d want to stuff in your own stocking.

03 Activity

Twinkle on, Whitehorse

If you like lights (and no, not the ones from that “UFO” your friend spotted last month), we highly suggest you grab a thermos of your mom’s best hot cocoa and take a drive around Whitehorse with a loved one or two. You’re guaranteed an eyeful with all the Christmas decorations around town.

Here are the best spots to ooh and aaah at the twinkling spectacle:

  • Main Street
  • Rotary Peace Park
  • SS Klondike National Historic Site
  • City Hall
  • Front Street
  • Shipyards Park
  • And for a bird’s eye view, hike or drive up to the highest point on Long Lake Road
04 Activity

Garbage Truck Santa

Yes, you read that right. Santa’s real and he drives a garbage truck here in the Yukon. He finds it to be a lot more reliable than his reindeer. For 26 years, city worker Wayne Henderson has been dressing up as jolly ol’ Mr. Claus and transforming his garbage truck into his very own sleigh. With over 2500 lights, sleigh bells, and a giant set of caribou antlers, this oversized sleigh is hard to miss. For four days every season, Garbage Truck Santa “ho-hos” his way to schools, daycares and care homes in Whitehorse to give out candy canes, take photos and spread his unending cheer. Make sure you wave hello if you spot him! He just may give you a candy cane and agree to a selfie or two.

05 Activity

Christmas Boat Parade

What do you do when the river is frozen and your boat’s getting lonely in the garage? You spruce it up with lights and take it for a ride through town! At least that’s what the good folks of Dawson City plan on doing this Christmas. For the 16th year in a row, the Christmas Boat Parade will feature decorated boats being hauled on a surprise route through the streets of Dawson City. And it’s not just the boats. Decorated snowmobiles, four wheelers, and even good ol’ trucks can get in on the fun. You can meet up at the Visitor Information Centre or catch the cheery procession as it rolls through town. Who said boats can’t be sleighs too?

Whitehorse

Whitehorse

Whitehorse

Whitehorse

Dawson City