Alaskans come from all over the state to this annual party in Sitka, including politicians, musical bands and other dignitaries. It’s a legal state holiday to celebrate the transfer of Alaska from Russia to the United States in 1867, as the first U.S. flag was first raised in Alaska at Fort Sitka.
With a parade and roster of events longer than the Fourth of July, Alaska Day is Sitka’s signature celebration, renowned throughout the state. 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 occasional visits by governors and senators. And if you arrive via Alaska Airlines on the week preceding October 18, ladies in historical dress will greet your jet. The festival week wraps up on October 18, when there’s a reenactment of the changing of the flag on Castle Hill, once home to the territorial governor and chief manager of the Russian-American Company. The theme changes annually, but each year celebrates the cultures and histories of Alaska. You’ll find sea kayak races, running races, lectures, and even a variety show.