Regions: Klondike Communities: Dawson City
Themes: Heritage & Culture Categories: Festivals and Events

For the prospectors and the prospectors at heart

From the stampede-worthy discovery of the shiny stuff to present-day parades through town, Discovery Day is nothing short of eventful. And with a week-long Discovery Day Celebration in Dawson City, you finally have full rein to unleash your inner explorer. 

01 History

The History

Imagine discovering something so precious, you inspire 100,000 people to flock to the site of your discovery. No, this is not an introvert’s nightmare. This is the true tale of the Yukon Gold Rush. On August 17th, 1896, George Carmack, Kate Carmack, Skookum Jim and Dawson Charlie stumbled upon the motherlode—rich deposits of precious Yukon gold. You could say Christmas came early for this crew.

As the news spread, hundreds of thousands of stampeders soon followed. Dawson City boomed as its population exploded and over a million pounds of gold passed through it. Fortunes were made and lost in the “Paris of the North.” 

But there’s another side to this tale. This mass influx of miners and settlers affected the Tr’ondek Hwech’in people—the original inhabitants of the land. Their leader, Chief Isaac, led them down the river to the community of Moosehide, where they remained for many years before returning to their rightful home in the 1950s.

02 Celebration

The Celebrations

While the prospectors may have moved on, the merrymaking certainly hasn’t. Discovery Day is faithfully celebrated on the third Monday in August with festivities centred in Dawson City. Here’s how you can join in on the fun: 

  • Catch the Discovery Day Celebrations in Dawson City from August 15 - 19. Attractions include the Discovery Day Parade, live music, face painting, poker tournaments, writing competitions and can-can demonstrations by the dancers at Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall. 
  • Check out the Riverside Arts Festival from August 15 - 18. Satisfy your inner Picasso with artist demonstrations, exhibitions, lectures, art installations and more. 
  • Grab a hotdog and cheer on the drivers at the Mud Bog as they go head to head, furiously racing their heavy-duty trucks through a pit of mud. What does this have to do with the Gold Rush? We don’t really know, but it’s a heck of a lot of fun.
03 Preparation

The Preparation

As you gear up to revel in all things Gold Rush, here are a few tips to help you get in touch with your inner prospector and make the most of your Discovery Day: 

  • Plan ahead. As August 15th inches closer, contact the Klondike Visitors Association for an itinerary. Circle the events you absolutely, positively cannot miss and plan your Discovery Days around them. 
  • Grab some popcorn and channel your inner explorer with a Gold Rush-themed movie or TV series. Our favourites include Klondike Gold Rush (2015), the reality TV series Yukon Gold (2013 - 2017), and the 1925 classic Charlie Chaplin flick The Gold Rush. 
  • Practice cuddling your carbs. Back when times were tougher, prospectors were given the nickname "sourdough," as they would hold their dough close to their chests to prevent it from freezing. So if you want the full Discovery Day experience, grab your favourite loaf and give it some love.
  • Go forth and party like a true Yukoner—just be sure to carry water and load up on sunscreen. We’re in the Land of the Midnight Sun, people! And sunburns don’t count as souvenirs.

Bonanza Creek

Mud Bog Site

Gerties Gambling Hall