The Arctic’s long winter darkness starts to retreat after the winter solstice in late December. Then each northern day is noticeably longer than the last and nowhere is this more true than in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, home to the Return of the Sun Festival, held each year in early January.

That’s the time chosen to celebrate the end of a month of darkness north of the Arctic Circle, from December 5th to January 6th. Each day the sun casts more light on the Mackenzie Delta’s winter landscape of snow and ice.

Return of the Sun events include a huge community bonfire and fireworks display. Visitors can take advantage of the growing daylight to try driving a dogsled at Arctic Chalet, or driving on the frozen Mackenzie River. In the evening, they can watch the Aurora from a cozy little cabin beside the Mackenzie Delta.

By February and March, all Western Arctic communities are waking up to the sun-filled days, and holding winter carnivals. Featured attractions include traditional dog and snowmobile races and tests of northern skills - the fastest tea boiling, log sawing and snow shoeing. Take in the excitement of hand games with their backdrop of rhythmic drumming, or try dancing to old time jigs and reels.

For more information on accommodations and winter fun in Inuvik, see Accommodation.