Beaufort Delta

Great Northern Arts Festival returns in 2021 with new format

The Great Northern Arts Festival is coming back to the Beaufort Delta in mid-July, but it will look a little bit different this year.

Cancelled outright last year thanks to Covid-19, the 2021 event – given the moniker “Returning to Our Roots” – will be a three-day gathering for artists across the NWT featuring seminars, workshops, and other activities designed specifically for them.

The festival society announced its plans for the “symposium-style” festival, set for July 13-15, in a press release on Wednesday.  


Promising a “return to normal” in 2022, the society said this year’s event is meant to “serve as a chance for northern artists to safely regroup and reunite after being apart for two years” in a time where tourism capacity has been greatly reduced.  

It also aims to “recall the spirit” of the original festival, held over thirty years ago.

“The first festival, in 1989, was an opportunity for northern artists from distant communities—who otherwise had few opportunities to meet—to gather in one place for a chance to collaborate, network, and exchange ideas,” it stated.

“Only in the years following has the festival transformed into the internationally recognized Western Arctic tourist event it has been known as since.”

In recent iterations, the festival has run for 10 days and drawn crowds from around the world. Artworks on display can be purchased, and a range of cultural activities, including musical performances, beading workshops, and an Arctic fashion show, are open to the public.


While the news release clarified that such opportunities will still exist this year, the event’s focus will instead be on “career development” for both established and emerging artists and craftspeople.

“The shorter duration is a unique opportunity for the many talented artists from communities across the Beaufort Delta, who cannot normally attend the festival for the full ten days, to come to Inuvik and participate for a shorter amount of time,” it read.

Applications for artists looking to attend are open on the festival website.