A Yellowknife tribute, and a full list of New Years events in the NWT

Last modified: December 31, 2019 at 12:55pm

Kate Dooley loved fireworks and organized the Yellowknife New Years display, as well as fireworks across the north, for over 15 years.

In memory of Dooley’s dedication to fireworks, which her friend Kim Smale said was “her whole world,” the first few shells launched New Years eve over Yellowknife will be for her. Following these, the city says a pause and a moment of reflection will take place to honour Dooley, who passed away December 1.

“The illness that took her, took her very quickly,” Smale said of Dooley’s last months, who found out she had cancer in July. “She passed away at home and she had all her friends with her.”


Smale remembers her friend as a very kind soul. “Kate loved to be on the land, camping. She was a very quiet, reserved person actually but the friends she had were very close friends,” she said.

As one of the few people in the territories certified as a fireworks operator, Smale said Dooley would be at it from the beginning of November “working constantly, trying to arrange a good show.” And on New Years Eve, Smale said her friend pulled long shifts from 7am – supervising the fireworks and when the time came, lighting the flares.

As well as the New Years displays, Smale said Dooley also did the fireworks for major events including the opening of the Deh Cho bridge.

The Yellowknife fireworks start at 8pm Tuesday from Frame Lake. Spectators are invited to watch the show from Somba K’e civic plaza and along the edge of Frame Lake.

To stay safe, the city is asking residents to stay on the perimeter of Frame Lake and to not approach the area where fireworks are being set off or the safety zone around it until noon Wednesday. The city is also asking people to leave their pets at home.


Dooley is seen in a submitted photo from friend Kim Smale.

Here’s what else is happening on New Years Eve and New Years Day across the NWT.


Fireworks, a bonfire and a truck parade will be taking place at midnight New Years Eve at Shorty’s Pond, followed by a party at 1am at the Sittichinli  Complex.


The fun continues Wednesday, with a community feast at 5pm at the complex.


Fresh off a weekend handgames tournament, the community is having a dance for the adults at the Sportsplex from 9pm to 2am. Comedian Don Burnstick will be performing.

On January 1, a drum dance and a community feast are taking place at the Sportsplex. This will be followed by fireworks.

Fort McPherson

On December 31, fireworks and a bonfire are planned. The following day, a Skidoo rally starts at 2pm followed by a New Years dance and feast.

Fort Smith

Fireworks will be starting at 7pm at the snowboard park lookout. The town is asking people to park at Riverside Park.

Hay River

From 8pm a bonfire as well as music, snacks and fireworks are on at the forks – “the clearing next to the ice road crossing off of Riverview Drive.”

Skating and swimming are also free, thanks to sponsors, throughout the day December 31.


The main event is an old time dance and community feast at the Midnight Sun Complex Tuesday, starting at 5pm. Daniel Rogers and guests will play and a photo booth, family games and a jigging contest are also on the menu.

For anyone wanting to fire off their own fireworks, the town is reminding residents to get a permit signed by the fire chief.

Norman Wells

A potluck and drum dance at the community hall kicks off 6pm New Years eve. The town says everyone is welcome to attend, adding it is an alcohol free event. “Please bring a dish or dessert, but most importantly bring your family and friends to a fun-filled evening to bring in 2020,” the town stated.

The Fort Good Hope drummers will be drumming until 9pm.


A church service at the gym starts at 11pm, followed by games, and a talent show for cash prizes at 1am.

On New Years Day, a community feast starts at 4pm and runs until 6pm. The hamlet is asking those attending to bring their own plates, bowls and utensils. Games start at 7pm.