If you’re in Anchorage on the evening of the first Friday of every month, you’ll notice something is a little different. That’s because it’s First Friday—when the art galleries downtown stay open late, sometimes host opening parties, and encourage people to do art crawls. This has resulted in other businesses staying open, too, and creating a buzz of their own. It all brings an extra shot of adrenaline to the downtown scene.
This tradition was established in Anchorage more than 20 years ago, encouraging collaboration among galleries to bring more visibility—and visitors—to the locals arts. The early events were such a success that they grew, even though nothing was ever formally established. Today, First Friday generally happens from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., but each gallery chooses what hours it’s going to be open. Most are within walking distance of each other, so it’s easy to make this an “Art Walk.” You may experience an opening for a painter, a music event, or even a dance performance. Some venues may charge, while others may be free. More than 1,000 people may take part; the International Gallery of Contemporary Art (the event’s founding venue) and the Anchorage Museum see the largest turnouts.
The places that participate are always changing, so check the local papers (like the Anchorage Press or the Anchorage Daily News) to find out what’s going on.
If you can, come and enjoy First Friday. You’ll not only get to experience some great artwork, but also feel the lively spirit of the Anchorage community.