According to folklore, the tradition of the Mt. Marathon Race began when two sourdoughs argued about the possibility of climbing and descending the mountain in less than an hour. “Impossible” one said. To settle the argument, and the resulting wager, a race was held, with the loser to furnish drinks for the crowd. At the same time, enterprising merchants put up a suit of More...
Founded in 2001, the Anchorage International Film Festival will be hosting its 16th annual celebration of independent film in Anchorage this December. Attended by filmmakers and cinema-lovers from all over the US and the world, the festival seeks to support new media and independent filmmaking in Alaska and beyond. Festival-goers are treated to the opportunity to watch films not-yet-released or that won't be released in Alaskan theaters, plus engaging Q & A sessions after the films with attending filmmakers, plus numerous other events.
The Alaskan blueberry: plump, delicious, and so popular that every year Girdwood puts on a big celebration in honor of blueberry season. As many as 4,000 people have been flocking to Girdwood one weekend every August for the past 7 years, and the festival gets larger and more exciting each year, with people coming from all over Alaska. The two-day family-friendly event makes for a great excuse to visit this gorgeous area.
The Seward Silver Salmon Derby® is one of the oldest and largest fishing derbies in the State. Seward’s Derby is equally popular with locals, other Alaska residents, and visiting anglers from around the nation and world. Anglers vie for the largest Coho (Silver) Salmon and try to catch tagged fish worth prizes. Anglers turn their fish in daily, which are sold to raise funds More...
First Saturday in March
The world’s most famous sled dog race begins in downtown Anchorage on the first Saturday in March, in a spectator-friendly ceremony. The first mile and a half of this leg is on city streets lined with thousands of spectators. The next six miles run east and south through the city greenbelts and parks on the extensive system of bike and ski paths.
If you’re visiting Girdwood the first weekend in July, you’ll feel a palpable energy in the air—a little extra jolt of excitement. It’s because of the Forest Fair—a huge festival celebrating Alaskan music, arts, and crafts. Artists and visitors pour in from all over Alaska to perform or just have fun, and the entire community comes together to make it happen. It’s the kind of event that visitors may stumble across, then return the following year just to experience it again.
Mid May to Mid September
Every Saturday and Sunday in summer, more than 300 vendors take over seven acres of downtown Anchorage, selling a wide variety of Alaskan-made goods and food from all over the world. Whether you’re in the market for a valuable keepsake or a last-minute souvenir, you’ll likely find what you want here. You’ll find souvenir T-shirts, furs, painters and photographers selling their work, handmade jewelry, and more. Music and dance performances keep the market lively.
Third weekend of April
Love skiing and wacky costumes? The Slush Cup is the perfect opportunity to see both. Competitors dress up and try to skim across a 90-foot-long pool of freezing water on skis—and not many make it! There are lots of other activities as well, including a swim across the freezing pool, face painting for kids, food booths, and more.
On the Fourth of July, the population of Seward swells from around 2,500 to a reported 40,000. Main Street is completely blocked off to traffic and the streets fill with people. Many come to run in or watch the Mt. Marathon Race, while others come to enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery in the world and take part in the festivities.
Seward’s annual July 4th celebration More...
For over 75 years, the Alaska State Fair has been a gathering place for all Alaskans, and a “last hurrah” before summer gives way to the long Alaska winter.What started as a celebration for the Mat-Su colonists in 1936 has grown into the state’s largest annual event. Each year, hundreds of thousands of fairgoers enjoyed nightly concerts featuring headline More...
Certified by the U.S. Track and Field Association, this annual marathon is run against the gorgeous backdrop of the Alaskan wilderness. People come from far and wide to participate: all 50 states and some 15 countries. And if you’re not up for the full 26.2, you can still be a part of it by running the half-marathon, the 4- mile race, the 1.6-mile youth race, or the marathon relay.
First Friday of each month
On these special Fridays, art galleries celebrate new works by local artists, and it’s great entertainment for art lovers. You may find galleries hosting receptions with hors d’oeuvres, offering a chance to meet local artists while enjoying a stroll through downtown. Look for a map of participating galleries in the Anchorage Press or the Anchorage Daily News the day before.
Interested in learning how to smoke fish, make rugs, or carve spoons—from a teacher who’s a local Alaskan? At the Homer Folk School, those locals pass along their unique skills, which come from a variety of traditions. Topics vary, but every class allows travelers and locals to get a deeper understanding of Alaska.
Anchorage RunFest is a collection of running events that celebrate runners of all abilities from the elite runners to the back of the packers. This late season Boston Marathon qualifier boasts ideal running weather, mild temperatures and a fast course with very little elevation gain. The out and back route takes runners through downtown Anchorage before heading out along the scenic coastline and through the city’s wooded greenbelt. In keeping with the event’s ‘wild’ reputation, Anchorage’s thriving urban wildlife is often spotted along the race-course.
For 75 years, the Fur Rondy has been celebrating the joys of an Alaskan winter. And because of the time of year, this is hardly your typical festival! So bundle up and check out the outhouse races, native arts market, snowshoe softball, a snow sculpture contest, a sled-dog race, and the uniquely Alaskan “running of the reindeer.” To get the most out of this Alaskan More...
Summer is not the only time to embrace Sitka’s connection to our vast oceans and the inhabitants. November’s annual Sitka WhaleFest, hosted by the Sitka Sound Science Center, celebrates marine life through a science symposium, art, wildlife cruises and so much more!
There’s no place like Nome at solstice time. The community gathers for a celebration like no other: the Midnight Sun Festival. Spirits are high, as locals take advantage of more than 21 hours of direct sunlight. Events include a parade down Front Street, a mock bank robbery, and an icy plunge in the Bering Sea.
An annual, must attend event with fabulous art, live music and dance performances. Local Alaskan artisans and food vendors are featured. The Seward Art’s Council promotes this ever growing event, with a commitment to youth involvement, education, and creative inspiration; as well as a philosophy of low environmental impact. It is a family-oriented festival with children's activities and artist’s projects throughout the weekend; including the creation of a mural-in-a-day by members of the Seward Mural Society.
Can your homemade raft survive a race down a five-mile stretch of the Nome River? How about when water balloons and squirt guns are in play between race participants and even spectators? The Nome River Raft Race, held each June as part of the Midnight Sun Festival, is one event where getting wet is not only part of the fun – it’s a requirement!
The World Eskimo-Indian Olympics (WEIO) were formed over fifty years ago to spread knowledge and awareness of traditional skills and games to visitors and residents of Alaska. Each summer, the top athletes from the circumpolar north (including teams from Greenland and Russia) gather in Fairbanks to compete in tests of strength, endurance, balance, and tolerance for pain. World Eskimo-Indian Olympics usually runs from July 16th-19th at the Carlson Center.
There are classical music festivals, jazz festivals, and rock festivals. And then there’s HomeSkillet—a fun, eclectic, varied, and unique festival that defies definition. The offspring of Home Skillet Records (a production company started by two Sitka High graduates), this music festival—held over two or three days in mid-summer—is in its 7th year and features More...
Fall in Unalaska brings cooler air, rich color to the tundra, and a plethora of berries. While locals can be pretty secretive about their favorite picking spots, they are generous with the fruits of their labors – at the annual Blueberry Bash. Here you’ll find an amazing array of blueberry dishes – table after table loaded with variations on tasty pies, cobblers and tarts, along with jams, vinegars, chutneys, salsas and everything in between.
It’s only fitting that an Alaska fishing village throws a great salmon festival. Every year in July, the town of Cordova takes a break from fishing to turn out for the Copper River Salmon Jam. This festival aims to celebrate salmon and promote the health and sustainability of local salmon runs.
In late November each year, hundreds of Nome community members gather to celebrate the diverse Native cultures of the Bering Strait region. Kaatiluta, which means “all of us, together,” honors the sharing traditions that helped people survive for generations in the extreme conditions of the Arctic.
The view from Nome’s Anvil Mountain is worth the effort it takes to climb 1,100 feet to the summit. Two very different summer competitions feature a fast race to the top. How much time you spend up there enjoying the grand view of Nome and the Bering Sea is all up to you.
Very few art festivals in the country are as boldly multi-disciplinary as the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival with classes in music, dance, theatre, visual arts, literary arts, culinary arts, and healing arts. Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival hosts a thousand people, from beginners to advanced practitioners, register each year to explore their inner artist.
Visit local galleries and shops in downtown Seward to see featured local artists and enjoy local Alaskan hospitality. See handmade jewelry, pottery, photography, paintings, metal work, carvings, clothing and more. Occasionally the event includes local musicians, dancers or drummers.
Jazz in Alaska? In the winter? You bet. In fact, this three-day festival, which takes place over the first weekend in February, has been going on for 17 years. And it continues to draw musicians from New Orleans, Detroit, San Francisco, and New York. The festival’s mission is to bring jazz to Sitka. Professional musicians headline evening performances, but music students also More...
Commemorating October 18,1867, the day that the United States purchased Alaska from Russia, the Alaska Day Festival brings together historians, politicians, patriots, and travelers. There’s a parade led by the pipe and drum regiment of the Seattle Fire Department; a ball, with music by the Fort Wainwright’s 9th Army Band; historical reenactments; panel discussions; and More...
Summers are busy in Ketchikan, with up to five cruise ships making port every day, but the locals also know how to play hard—especially at the huge Blueberry Arts Festival, hosted every August by the Ketchikan Arts and Humanities Council. In a town of 14,000, you’re likely to see as many as 8,000 people come out to this family-friendly event that celebrates the Southeast Alaskan blueberry.
Many events are held here throughout the year, the largest being the Kenai Peninsula Fair held annually the 3rd weekend in August. Locals call this the biggest little fair in Alaska. The festivities include a rodeo, parade, livestock competition, horse show and exhibits ranging from arts and crafts to produce.
Come on out to watch some community softball, a passion for many residents. Nome usually fields nearly a dozen teams, offering pretty competitive softball for a small town on the far reaches of Alaska. With games throughout the summer and a Midnight Sun Festival tournament, the ball is in play several days a week, rain or shine.
Running the Gold Dust Dash in Nome offers a beautiful view along the 5K race course up and back along the shoreline of the Bering Sea. A gold nugget is on the line for first place finishers, so most runners enjoy the view at top speed. The Gold Dust Dash is the first of many events celebrating summer solstice in Nome.
Experience Nome’s collective creative spirit at the Nome Arts Council Open Mic events, held in mid-November and in March during Iditarod Week. They are always well-attended, so arrive early to enjoy some of Nome’s best music, dance, poetry and story-tellers.
In Nome you can find truly unique, hand-made items during local arts and crafts fairs. The largest of these takes place during Iditarod Week in mid-March. Take advantage of the local flavor and pick up a hand-spun qiviut (muskox fibres) garment, ivory carvings or a sealskin hat.
Reaching deep into a sleeve of hot kettle corn for the kernels at the bottom amid a pop-up city of white tent tops is an easy recipe for a classic afternoon in Fairbanks. Farmers markets double as open-air social halls to run into friends and neighbors while shopping, and also play host to cooking demonstrations, competitions (like the purple vegetable contest), and live music.
The Kluane Chilkat Bike Relay takes place in June, right around the longest day of the year (the summer solstice). The 8-leg relay starts in Haines Junction, Yukon, and ends in Ft. Seward in Haines, a distance of 150 miles. It attracts a wide range of enthusiasts, from serious bike racers to local teams simply out to have a good time.
You probably call them “snowmobiles,” but Alaskans call them “snowmachines.” The Alcan 200 is billed as the “fastest snowmachine race on earth.” Machines have been clocked over 110 miles per hour as they zoom along the 154-mile course, from the Canadian Border to Dezadeash Lake, Yukon Territory. Portions of the Haines Highway are closed during the race, and plenty of partying takes place in town before and after this January event.
March is the month to get outside. The days are longer and the weather is starting to warm, but winter still has its icy grip. To avoid going stir crazy or for some good, clean Alaskan winter fun, head north to Trapper Creek for the Cabin Fever Reliever. Held the second Saturday in March in this picturesque small town (there are great views of Denali), the celebration includes a pancake breakfast, a raffle, cross-country ski races, games, contests, and a spaghetti dinner.
One of the most unique golf outings you could ever experience takes place every August, on the Aleutian tundra thousands of miles from any established golf course. This is a place where you can (and perhaps should) wear knee high boots as you advance along a 9-hole course winding through the Pyramid Valley of Unalaska Island.
An annual event with local Alaskan artists, featuring beautiful work for your holiday shopping pleasure. Don't forget to check out the food vendors, live entertainment, holiday music and Santa! Generally the first week in December at the Dale R. Lindsey Alaska Railroad Intermodal Facility.
Each February a select group of hardy souls sets out from Knik Lake to test themselves against Alaska’s harsh winter elements. Their mission? To traverse the famed Iditarod trail, by mountain bike, ski, or on foot – with little to no trail support. Crazy? Maybe. Inspiring? Definitely.
Framed by green mountains on three sides, Kelty field is the perfect setting for an end-of-summer party – a celebration of Aleutian life and the people who make Unalaska their home (whether year-round or just for the summer). Coordinated by the city’s Parks, Culture and Recreation Department, the Heart of the Aleutians Festival is a family affair, where artists and their crafts, small businesses and non-profits fill the community tent with vendor booths to display and offer their treasures and services.