Arctic Winter Games

The Arctic Winter Games emerged from an idea in 1967 of then Commissioners James Smith of the Yukon and Steward Hodgson of the Northwest Territories who watched their athletes struggle against southern counterparts at the Canada Winter Games. Smith and Hodgson enticed Alaska Governor Walter Hickel to join this northern circumpolar sporting and cultural event, with a goal of offering appropriate levels of competition for northern athletes who had limited access to facilities and training opportunities.

The first set of Games were staged in Yellowknife, NWT in 1970 and officially opened by former Prime Minister of Canada, Pierre Elliott Trudeau. The Games were a huge success with some 500 athletes competing from Alaska, Yukon and Northwest Territories. The AWG are held every two years and now include representation from Yukon, Alaska, Northern Alberta, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Greenland, Nunavik, the three Russian provinces of Magadan, Sami and Yamai.

The underlying philosophy of the Games is to involve as many athletes as possible either at the Games or in team trials, and to promote a forum of competition for those other than elite athletes with competitive opportunities in the south. The Arctic Winter Games symbolize athletic competition, cultural exhibition and social interchange.

Upcoming games…

January 29th – February 4th, 2023

in Wood Buffalo, Alberta 





August 31, 2021 (Whitehorse, YT) – The Arctic Winter Games International Committee (AWGIC), following consultation with its stakeholders, has made the decision to maintain the years of birth noted within the draft 2022 Arctic Winter Games Technical Packages for the 2023 Arctic Winter Games.

The Wood Buffalo 2022 Arctic Winter Games were postponed mid-winter 2021, in a planned and proactive response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The Games originally scheduled to take place in Wood Buffalo in March 2022, will now take place January 29 to February 4, 2023.

Held every two-years, the Arctic Winter Games is the premier circumpolar sport and cultural event for youth hosting up to 2,000 participants and an equal number of volunteers.

The AWGIC reviews its sport technical packages, in conjunction with its stakeholders once every two years, however the postponement of the 2022 Games caused a unique circumstance with age categories. Effectively adjusting the age categories to meet the rescheduled year of the Games would have caused youth born in a certain year not to have had the opportunity to participate at all in the Games because they would have “aged out”.

The International Committee engaged in an extensive consultative process with our valued Chefs de Mission from Participating Units. We considered both the Chefs and their sport organizations critical feedback and we analysed the potential effects that changing the sport age categories could have. We came to the conclusion to maintain the draft 2022 Technical Packages years of birth was the fairest situation for the youth participants.