Nome Fairs & Festivals

Nome is all about community. It’s a small and friendly town, where even from the earliest days, residents planned sporting challenges, celebrations and theatre productions. Today there’s something happening nearly every month, whether it’s a film festival, a run up Anvil Mountain, a quick summertime plunge in the Bering Sea, or a festive and fun celebration of Native traditions. We’ve listed some of the main events and timeframes, but your best bet is to check with the Nome Visitors Center before your trip to determine what’s happening during your visit.

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Fairs & Festivals

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. 

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.

The Nome Com­mu­ni­ty Thanks­giv­ing Din­ner, made pos­si­ble by dona­tions and lots of vol­un­teer help, is open to all com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers and vis­i­tors. Stop by for a meal, pitch in to help with the turkey, and enjoy the com­pa­ny of friend­ly Nome-ites, who warm up even the cold­est of Novem­ber days.

Snow­ma­chines are part of dai­ly life around Nome, but you usu­al­ly have to mind the speed lim­it. Not so in the Can­non­ball Snow­ma­chine Race each April, when rac­ers tear up the trail in mul­ti­ple laps around Nome.

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.

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!

Kick up your heels dur­ing Nome’s Salmonber­ry Jam, a three-day music fes­ti­val with work­shops, guest artists, local musi­cians, danc­ing, hand-made crafts, and a com­mu­ni­ty cook­out and jam.

Nome res­i­dents have cel­e­brat­ed the Fourth of July since before the town was even incor­po­rat­ed. A fes­tive parade and range of games is always on the agen­da, from the high kick, to gun­ny sack and bicy­cle races. And in Nome, the fun isn’t just for kids. There are race cat­e­gories for all ages!

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.

Rob­bers with guns drawn stride down Nome’s Front Street each sol­stice with one goal: to rob the bank and get away with bags of loot. The plan is some­how always foiled, but that doesn’t mat­ter. Those rob­bers keep try­ing, year after year! Watch for the bad guys to come call­ing at high noon just after the Mid­night Sun parade.

The 200-mile Nome-Golovin Race is held on the sec­ond Sat­ur­day in March. Rac­ers begin and end in Nome after fol­low­ing 100 miles of the Idi­tar­od trail down the coast to Golovin and back. It takes just a few hours, so you can catch both the start and fin­ish – and maybe even catch the Award Cer­e­monies, held a few days later.

Youth tal­ent is on dis­play at Nome’s Sum­mer­fest, an end-of-July cel­e­bra­tion held in Anvil City Square. Face-paint­ing, a tal­ent show, bounce-house and com­mu­ni­ty booths are all part of the fun in this annu­al event that hon­ors youth, the arts, and healthy choices.

The water’s cold, but there’s def­i­nite­ly gold to be found in the Poor Man’s Beach Gold Pan­ning Con­test,” held annu­al­ly in Nome’s Anvil City Square. Grab a pan and a bag of pay dirt and see if you can find the gold faster than any­body else. 

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.

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!

When you see berry pick­ers dot­ting the tun­dra around Nome, you know the Blue­ber­ry Fes­ti­val is just around the cor­ner. Don’t miss this one-day gath­er­ing that cel­e­brates all-things blue­ber­ry: from music to arts and crafts, and so many blue­ber­ry-based food concoctions.

See what it’s like to be Nome for the Hol­i­days” at the much-antic­i­pat­ed Christ­mas Extrav­a­gan­za fills Old St. Joe’s Hall with music, San­ta and his elves, live rein­deer, and just about every­body in town. 

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.

Billed as the World’s Longest, Tough­est Snow­ma­chine Race,” the Iron Dog course totals 2,274 long win­ter miles. Begin­ning at Big Lake (north of Anchor­age), the race course leads to Nome, and then ends in Fair­banks. Rac­ers and the Nome com­mu­ni­ty enjoy a fes­tive ban­quet halfway through the race.

Nome is a star attrac­tion for bird­ers, who might be sur­prised by hun­dreds of yel­low ducks drift­ing down the Snake Riv­er on Labor Day.

Learn about the far north through the eyes of cre­ative film-mak­ers (many of them local) in this 2‑day film fes­ti­val orga­nized by the Nome Arts Council.

From Nome to your home: You can cap­ture the spir­it of the Idi­tar­od Trail Sled Dog Race and stay active dur­ing win­ter no mat­ter where you live through Nome-based char­i­ty fundrais­ers: Idi­ta-splash and Idita-walk.

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.

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.

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.