Frequently Asked Questions

If you have questions, we’ve got answers! Here are some of the most frequently asked questions for you to look through. If you can’t find the answer to your question here, then feel free to contact us.

Last updated July 19, 2021.

Important Notes
  • Bring your own equipment if possible. Label each item with your name, just in case.
  • Glass bottles or other glass items are not allowed at festival sites.
  • Dogs are not allowed at the beaches or rocks at Mountain Portage during the festival.
  • Bring your own food picnic lunch for the Friday family canoe picnic.
  • Look at our map to find the festival sites– and our sponsors!
  • Paddlers will be required to fill out a legal waiver (for those aged 18 and above) or an acknowledgement of risk (for those under 18). A parent or legal guardian must sign for a minor.


Because of COVID-19, our event will be a little different. We don’t have participants coming in from around the world, which includes our usual crew of experts who usually lead many of the instructional clinics. So the biggest change will be our event will be scaled down a bit and more local. Other than that, Paddlefest will be largely the same awesome weekend!

We are following the COVID-19 guidelines as set out in the NWT’s Emerging Wisely plan. This year’s event is being kept local to the territory, 2m physical distancing or masks are recommended, and good hand washing or sanitizing is asked of everyone.

We’re offering refunds on a case-by-case basis for COVID-19 related reasons. Contact us and we’ll help you out.

Please see the NWT’s Emerging Wisely plan page for more information on travelling into the Northwest Territories. We can’t give specific advice on how or when you can come into the NWT, but it is possible. If you’d like to register for Paddlefest and attend from out of the NWT, please make sure to thoroughly research your travel options and leave enough time for any required self-isolation as set out by the NWT government.

Again, please make sure to adhere to all requirements set out in the NWT’s Emerging Wisely plan.

International registrations are not currently accepted.

General Questions

Not at all! Paddlefest includes many land-based activities for those who do not want to get into a boat. If this is more your jam, then the Land Activities Pass is perfect for you! Check out the options and details on our registration page.

Note that you must register as a paddler to participate in water-based activities.

It depends. You can definitely come down to the Paddlefest site to watch others paddle in the rapids without registering. We also have some paid activities that don’t require registration, including the Saturday Beach Party and Sunday Awards Dinner.

However, if you want to participate throughout the weekend, it’s best if you register for a Paddler Pass or Land Activities Pass. You’ll also get a swag bag and t-shirt!

We also have a registration pass for just the Flatwater Friday events if you want to only participate for one day.

Yes! It’s important to stay hydrated and fed. However, glass is not allowed and we ask that you please clean up any food mess including trash.

Pack out what you pack in!

Dogs are not allowed at the beaches or rocks at Mountain Portage or any other festival sites during the festival.

Yes, please do! Whatever kind of boat you have, you are encouraged to bring it along with your own gear. The Slave River offers both flatwater and whitewater at the main festival site at Mountain Portage Rapids.

If you can’t bring your own boat, try to bring your own PFD, helmet, and whatever other gear you have or need.

Pro tip: Clearly mark your gear with your name so it’s easy to identify!


Paddlefest is a family event with activities for all ages. There are certain age requirements for those who wish to register, but otherwise there are no age limits to enjoy the event. See our registration page and registration policies for more details.

Also check out our spectator and participant guide.

Children below the age of 9 can attend and eat at dinners for free with a paying adult.

Registration is done online. You can register by visiting our registration page. It’s best to register as soon as possible and before Paddlefest starts.

Yes! You can all register at the same time with one payment. On the registration form, be sure to add another participant once you’ve filled out your own registration. Families of 3-6 people will receive an automatic discount.

We offer a special discount for families of 3-6 that register together. The discount is automatically applied during the registration process. You don’t have to do anything extra besides register all of your family members at the same time!

A Paddler Pass will give you access to the entire weekend of Paddlefest events. This includes activities that take place on the water and land. You’ll also have use of paddling equipment provided by the Fort Smith Paddling Club, though you should still bring your own if possible.

A Land Activities Pass will give you access to all the off-water activities of Paddlefest, including the Sunday Awards Dinner and the Saturday Beach Party. You won’t be able to participate in water-based activities or use our paddling equipment.

View the registration page for more information.

Register as soon as possible! It really helps us with planning Paddlefest and will give you a better deal as the price will increase a little as time goes on.

You can register anytime before Saturday, August 3rd. Please register online, as we aren’t able to process on-site registrations. Those that do want to register on-site will be charged a manual registration fee.

Yes. If you register as a paddler, you will be required to sign a waiver when you check in.

Please be sure to read through the waiver before you register.

Instructional Clinics

Instructional clinics will be offered again this year. We’re still working to confirm instructors, times, and other details, but you’ll find the most up-to-date information listed on the clinics page.

Please contact us to register for any clinics that you are interested in attending.

Keep in mind that clinics are on a first-come first-serve basis and that a separate payment may be required on-site. Make sure to read the full details on our clinics page.

Unfortunately not. Our instructional clinics are only available to those who have registered for Paddlefest as either a paddler or youth paddler.

Additionally, our clinics are limited to a certain number of participants. If the clinic you want to join is full, you can email us to be placed on a waitlist.

Most clinics aren’t included with registration and you’ll need to register separately for one. Additionally, some clinics require a separate fee.

There are a few beginners clinics that are free and available to all paddlers, like the Introduction to Kayaking on Saturday morning.

Lodging & Travel

Paddlefest is held in and around Fort Smith, Northwest Territories in Canada. There are many options for lodging while you are here. Some of our sponsors have special deals for participants, you can find that information on our Lodging & Travel page. Otherwise, there’s a complete list of accommodation options on the Town of Fort Smith website.

We have a page with some information about how to get to Fort Smith for Paddlefest: Lodging & Travel.

For sure! Check out our ride-share document to either find a ride or offer one to others: Paddlefest Ride-Share. You can also connect with other participants on our Facebook page.