Spring freshet is the dominant annual discharge event in all major Arctic draining rivers with large contributions to freshwater inflow to the Arctic Ocean. Research has shown that the total freshwater influx to the Arctic Ocean has been increasing, while at the same time, the rate of change in the Arctic climate is significantly higher than in other parts of the globe. This study assesses the large-scale atmospheric and surface climatic conditions affecting the magnitude, timing and regional variability of the spring freshets by analyzing historic daily discharges from sub-basins within the four largest Arctic-draining watersheds (Mackenzie, Ob, Lena and Yenisei). Results reveal that climatic variations closely match the observed regional trends of increasing cold-season flows and earlier freshets. Flow regulation appears to suppress the effects of climatic drivers on freshet volume but does not have a significant impact on peak freshet magnitude or timing measures. Spring freshet characteristics are also influenced by El Niño-Southern Oscillation, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the Arctic Oscillation and the North Atlantic Oscillation, particularly in their positive phases. The majority of significant relationships are found in unregulated stations. This study provides a key insight into the climatic drivers of observed trends in freshet characteristics, whilst clarifying the effects of regulation versus climate at the sub-basin scale.