Tips for attending Yellowknife’s floating film festival

Canoes at the Dog Island Floating Film Festival. Steven Schwarz/Supplied by Terry Woolf

The annual Dog Island Floating Film Festival takes place on Friday on Yellowknife Bay – if the weather cooperates.

Unusually among film festivals, the Dog Island event is waterborne. Movies are projected onto a big screen in front of which congregates an audience of canoes, kayaks and other craft.

This year’s program features animation, short films – including several Dead North horror shorts – and the Yellowknife curling mockumentary Curlfriends.

We asked longtime organizer Terry Woolf for his tips if you’re planning on attending by canoe.



The screen at 2021's Dog Island Floating Film Festival
The screen at 2021’s Dog Island Floating Film Festival. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio

Firstly, always wear a PFD (personal flotation device, in other words a life jacket), said Woolf, who is helping to run 2022’s event alongside this year’s organizers, Anita Reiss and Shad Mcleod.

Secondly, Woolf said, dress warm. While the event will be moved to Saturday if a storm or high winds occur on Friday, Woolf says the water will get chilly even without a breeze. Wear winter clothing and bring blankets to stay warm.

Tip three is carry a good flashlight. The water gets very dark, said Woolf, and a flashlight will help to guide you – and help you be seen – as canoes, kayaks and even motorboats make their way around the bay.

Finally, Woolf said, pee before you go. The last thing you want is to be stuck in a crowd of canoes with a full bladder.



As a bonus tip, he added that attending on a paddleboard is not recommended. “It’ll be awful bloody cold on a paddleboard,” said Woolf.

A canoe at the Dog Island festival. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio

The festival is a free event for film viewers of all ages. If the weather is inhospitable on both Friday and Saturday, Sunday is a possible backup day. If the weather is still bad on Sunday, the event will be cancelled.

Check the event’s Facebook page for updates.

If the weather is good, attendees can expect free popcorn, films projected onto a screen on Dog Island, and the option to tie canoes together to ensure nobody drifts away.

“We want everyone to come and have fun and enjoy some films,” Woolf told Cabin Radio.

“Don’t be intimidated by it being on the water, or the potential of wind. It’s a fun festival and there will be people around to help.

“Audiences want to be blown away and, well, they really can be blown away at our show.”