With Norwegian flags flying, residents break out their best sweaters and bunads to toast the old country in old and new ways. This festival offers around-the-clock events and warmly welcomes visitors.
Folks in Petersburg break out their bunads for this three-day celebration of the town’s Scandinavian roots and culture, an annual tradition since 1958. Draped in Norwegian flags, the town’s main drag is barricaded off as fearsome marchers in horned helmets and furs parade a dragon-bowed Viking ship down Nordic Avenue. Few small-town special events in Alaska are this well-organized and welcoming. You’ll feel like you walked into someone else’s family reunion and were adopted. Visitors arriving on the ferry are greeted with a town map and schedule of events that span from rosemaling classes, are openings, and a pageant of Scandinavian dress to contests, open houses, a seafood buffet and a local melodrama. A few years ago, the rowdy Vikings jumped on plans to “ransack” neighboring Wrangell, 40 miles away, and abduct its mayor. The party continues into the night at local watering holes. Alaska governors are among guests who show up for it on the third weekend in May. See photos at the festiva’s Facebook page. Contact the Petersburg Chamber of Commerce for more information.