Fairbanks Fairs & Festivals
For a town of modest size, Fairbanks has a knack for throwing a good party. Whether it’s on the streets, in the river, or scattered among dozens of venues throughout the city—Fairbanks has a surprising number of signature events and community traditions that attract statewide attention and prove popular with visiting guests.
Fairbanksans are more in tune with their natural surroundings than your average city folk, so community celebrations are often tied to dramatic changes in seasons. The most obvious examples are summer and winter solstice, marked by festivals, a midnight baseball game, a fun run, and a fireworks show. In most places, these dates pass by with little notice. Not in Fairbanks. Others celebrate the season’s bounty, like local farmers markets and the giant vegetables at Tanana Valley State Fair.
Fairbanks loves to get in character each summer for the historic celebration of Golden Days, wherein the most notable chapters in local history are dusted off in the form of a traveling jailhouse, period costumes, and a grande parade through downtown. It’s an extended celebration of a brief period in history that still manages to evoke nostalgia in both old timers and newcomers alike.
The passions and hobbies of residents define many of the annual happenings in town, and are a window into the types of activities that locals like to support. All types of art-related endeavors (from the culinary to the classic) are taught and shared through the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival. The World Eskimo-Indian Olympics brings athletes from the circumpolar north to the biggest venue in town to showcase and preserve the traditions of Native people. More than a few events reveal the silly streak of Fairbanks, including a duct-tape river crawl and a rubber ducky race that runs several thousand strong.
Fairs & Festivals
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.
Each year, the streets of downtown Fairbanks burst with a 12-hour, family-friendly street fair packed with live music, performances and hundreds of booths selling food, crafts, official festival t‑shirts, and handmade souvenirs. Activities include face painting, gold panning, an annual BBQ cook-off, sled dog puppies, and a skate park. This popular block party reflects the importance of summer solstice to Interior Alaskans.
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.
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 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 ...more
For an authentic Alaskan celebration, head to Fairbanks in the third week of July. That’s when residents cut loose in honor of their Gold Rush history, during a five-day festival they call Golden Days. Bank managers dress up as sourdough miners, waitress don “fluzie” outfits, and most of the city turns out for races, parades, and great food. It’s a great time to meet locals — who are in a festive, social mood — and to be swept up in a big Alaskan ...more