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.
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...
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.
Seward’s halibut are a local surprise for those who typically think only of our Silver Salmon runs. Seward’s Halibut Tournament highlights this fishery, attracting early season visitors and anglers from throughout Alaska.
Because the tournament takes place early in the season, anglers will find it is easier to reserve a seat on one of the many charter vessels. In More...
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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!
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...
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...
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...
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.
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.
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.
In the cold and dark heart of winter, in the slightly twisted, yet brilliant mind of a local DJ, an ember slowly burned. How long, how hot, who knows? What we do know is that the ember grew into a flame and once released, grew legs, antlers and much more...A legend was born.
In a small office, not far away, a community festival struggled. After staggering debt was paid off More...
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.
This is the lottery, Alaska-style. To enter, just buy a ticket and pick the date and time (down to the minute) in April or May when you think the winter ice on the Tanana River will break. Winning could mean a windfall: the pool has reached nearly $300,000 in recent years.
Whether you land a record-breaker or not, the Halibut Derby in Unalaska is a full day’s worth of excitement. Held on a single day in late June or early July, you’ll have just ten hours to land the largest halibut you can – and a $1,000 cash prize is on the line.
Plunging into the Bering Sea's frigid waters takes a lot of nerve, but each year dozens of folks jump in with gusto as part of the Nome Rotary Club’s Polar Bear Swim. Many get out as fast as they went in, with gasps, smiles and a rush to the nearby bonfire. It’s all part of Nome’s wacky annual celebration of summer solstice.
The summer outdoor Farmer's Market, on the right side of Ocean Drive en route to the Spit, offers not only fresh produce and art, but also performing artists on stage. It’s a very pleasant aspect of Homer life. The entertainment ranges from singer/songwriter guitarists, quartets, elaborate dance performances to marimba bands to mention a few. In a town so full of talent, one can always expect an added treat at the Farmer’s Market, not only in the performing arts but also the wide variety of visual arts.
Coming to Kake in the summer? Time your visit to late July/early August so you can participate in the Dog Salmon Festival, a community celebration with great food, crazy games, music, and dancing. It’s the biggest event of the year, and a time when the entire community comes together to celebrate the bounty of the land and sea.
One week after the town of Willow hosts the Iditarod Sled Dog Restart, locals take advantage of the groomed trail by playing golf on it! Started by the Chamber of Commerce, this icy links tournament draws some 100 foul-weather golfers for a 9-hole tourney. According to participants, the ball bounces on groomed snow just like on real grass. There’s a limit of two clubs per person, More...
In its fifth year, Arti Gras spans two weekends in March and celebrates Alaskan creativity with music, a film festival, art workshops, and a themed “Wearable Art Show.” With the approach of spring, Alaskans are in a festive, creative mood. And Arti Gras gives everyone the opportunity to celebrate, bringing together local and regional artists and musicians like well-known More...
Unalaskans are “always ready” for music, a tradition that goes back to the 1920s. Back in those days, there was just one piano on the whole Aleutian Chain, and it was used by Bering Sea Patrol commander Captain Frances Van Boskerck (along with friends Alfred Nannestad and Joseph Fournier) to write a catchy tune that became United States Coast Guard’s anthem “Semper Paratus” (“always ready”). Today, there are plenty more pianos, along with plenty of piano students and music lovers. From regular recitals to visiting artists, workshops, and jam sessions, Unalaskans fill the Aleutian air with song all year long.
Alaskans love winter recreation, and this race is a testament to the cold-weather fanatics of the far north. Following portions of the original Iditarod trail and the frozen Susitna River, this 100-mile race is open to bikers, runners, and cross-country skiers. Set in February on President’s Day weekend, the racers deal with 13 hours of darkness and whatever the winter elements More...
Celebrating tasty, wild Alaskan seafood, this August festival is not only for foodies, but anyone interested in catching, preparing, and eating the bounty from Alaska’s waters. The opening night features a five-course seafood dinner prepared by local and visiting chefs, with dishes like Alaska spot prawns infused with alder wood aroma or Alaska salt cod over vegetables. The next More...
Located on the shores of Kachemak Bay, Homer is one of the most accessible and beautiful places for shorebird viewing in Alaska. Many visitors fly in (with the birds) while others drive the scenic road, about four hours south from Anchorage. Over 100,000 shorebirds migrate through this area, some staying to make their homes here. Many travel thousands of miles resting and feeding at a few critical stop-over points such as the base of the Homer Spit on their journey to the breeding grounds in the Alaska tundra.
This annual winter festival, in existence for more than 50 years, is held on back-to-back weekends at the end of January and beginning of February. With the state’s biggest winter fireworks display, $1,000 bingo cash pots, sled dog races, talent contests, foot races and fat-tire bike races, the festival is a regional draw and a fun place for travelers to see Alaskans cut More...
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.
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.
The Alaska Bald Eagle Festival takes place the second week of November, coinciding with the largest congregation of bald eagles in the world. The non-profit American Bald Eagle Foundation hosts the event, and tickets include transport to the Bald Eagle Council Grounds, live raptor presentations, educational programs, and other events.
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.
The “Haines Beerfest,” as its known by locals, is very popular, and tickets sell out weeks in advance. It kicks off with a gourmet dinner, where each course includes beer as an ingredient. The following day, the crowd descends on the Southeast Alaska State Fairgrounds, where craft beer and homebrew samples abound.
This festival brings together some of America’s most talented string musicians and has garnered national acclaim. Celebrating its 41st year in 2012, the festival is the vision of Paul Rosenthal, a violinist from New York who visited Alaska while on tour in 1972. It’s grown to include fall and winter performances in Anchorage and other parts of the state. The stringed More...
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...
“You too can clean up your act,” promise sponsors of Nome’s wacky Labor Day Bathtub Race. Whether a participant or a bystander, be prepared to get splashed as tubs full of water, bubbles – and a bather – are raced 100 yards down Front Street. For Nome, this is good, clean fun!
Tee off in the ice and snow of the frozen Bering Sea in this 6-hole charity golf classic that includes a mandatory stop-off at a local bar after the first three holes. Parka, fur hat, and heavy boats are advisable for one of the most unique golf outings you’ll ever experience.
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.
Miners took a lot of gold out of Dexter Creek, just northeast of Nome, and the Wyatt Earp Dexter Challenge takes participants through this backcountry on the Dexter Bypass Road. Walkers, runners and bikers complete different course lengths, but all cover some of this ridge-lined territory on the backside of Anvil Mountain.