Interested in learning how to smoke fish, make rugs, or carve spoons—from a teacher who’s a local Alaskan? At the Homer Folk School, those locals pass along their unique skills, which come from a variety of traditions. Topics vary, but every class allows travelers and locals to get a deeper understanding of Alaska.
Anchorage RunFest is a collection of running events that celebrate runners of all abilities from the elite runners to the back of the packers. This late season Boston Marathon qualifier boasts ideal running weather, mild temperatures and a fast course with very little elevation gain. The out and back route takes runners through downtown Anchorage before heading out along the scenic coastline and through the city’s wooded greenbelt. In keeping with the event’s ‘wild’ reputation, Anchorage’s thriving urban wildlife is often spotted along the race-course.
The Seward Silver Salmon Derby® is one of the oldest and largest fishing derbies in the State. Seward’s Derby is equally popular with locals, other Alaska residents, and visiting anglers from around the nation and world. Anglers vie for the largest Coho (Silver) Salmon and try to catch tagged fish worth prizes. Anglers turn their fish in daily, which are sold to raise funds More...
According to folklore, the tradition of the Mt. Marathon Race began when two sourdoughs argued about the possibility of climbing and descending the mountain in less than an hour. “Impossible” one said. To settle the argument, and the resulting wager, a race was held, with the loser to furnish drinks for the crowd. At the same time, enterprising merchants put up a suit of More...
First Friday of each month
On these special Fridays, art galleries celebrate new works by local artists, and it’s great entertainment for art lovers. You may find galleries hosting receptions with hors d’oeuvres, offering a chance to meet local artists while enjoying a stroll through downtown. Look for a map of participating galleries in the Anchorage Press or the Anchorage Daily News the day before.
For over 75 years, the Alaska State Fair has been a gathering place for all Alaskans, and a “last hurrah” before summer gives way to the long Alaska winter.What started as a celebration for the Mat-Su colonists in 1936 has grown into the state’s largest annual event. Each year, hundreds of thousands of fairgoers enjoyed nightly concerts featuring headline More...
Certified by the U.S. Track and Field Association, this annual marathon is run against the gorgeous backdrop of the Alaskan wilderness. People come from far and wide to participate: all 50 states and some 15 countries. And if you’re not up for the full 26.2, you can still be a part of it by running the half-marathon, the 4- mile race, the 1.6-mile youth race, or the marathon relay.
For 75 years, the Fur Rondy has been celebrating the joys of an Alaskan winter. And because of the time of year, this is hardly your typical festival! So bundle up and check out the outhouse races, native arts market, snowshoe softball, a snow sculpture contest, a sled-dog race, and the uniquely Alaskan “running of the reindeer.” To get the most out of this Alaskan More...
Third weekend of April
Love skiing and wacky costumes? The Slush Cup is the perfect opportunity to see both. Competitors dress up and try to skim across a 90-foot-long pool of freezing water on skis—and not many make it! There are lots of other activities as well, including a swim across the freezing pool, face painting for kids, food booths, and more.
First Saturday in March
The world’s most famous sled dog race begins in downtown Anchorage on the first Saturday in March, in a spectator-friendly ceremony. The first mile and a half of this leg is on city streets lined with thousands of spectators. The next six miles run east and south through the city greenbelts and parks on the extensive system of bike and ski paths.
On the Fourth of July, the population of Seward swells from around 2,500 to a reported 40,000. Main Street is completely blocked off to traffic and the streets fill with people. Many come to run in or watch the Mt. Marathon Race, while others come to enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery in the world and take part in the festivities.
Seward’s annual July 4th celebration More...
Mid May to Mid September
Every Saturday and Sunday in summer, more than 300 vendors take over seven acres of downtown Anchorage, selling a wide variety of Alaskan-made goods and food from all over the world. Whether you’re in the market for a valuable keepsake or a last-minute souvenir, you’ll likely find what you want here. You’ll find souvenir T-shirts, furs, painters and photographers selling their work, handmade jewelry, and more. Music and dance performances keep the market lively.
Summer is not the only time to embrace Sitka’s connection to our vast oceans and the inhabitants. November’s annual Sitka WhaleFest, hosted by the Sitka Sound Science Center, celebrates marine life through a science symposium, art, wildlife cruises and so much more!
The Alaskan blueberry: plump, delicious, and so popular that every year Girdwood puts on a big celebration in honor of blueberry season. As many as 4,000 people have been flocking to Girdwood one weekend every August for the past 7 years, and the festival gets larger and more exciting each year, with people coming from all over Alaska. The two-day family-friendly event makes for a great excuse to visit this gorgeous area.
Founded in 2001, the Anchorage International Film Festival will be hosting its 16th annual celebration of independent film in Anchorage this December. Attended by filmmakers and cinema-lovers from all over the US and the world, the festival seeks to support new media and independent filmmaking in Alaska and beyond. Festival-goers are treated to the opportunity to watch films not-yet-released or that won't be released in Alaskan theaters, plus engaging Q & A sessions after the films with attending filmmakers, plus numerous other events.
If you’re visiting Girdwood the first weekend in July, you’ll feel a palpable energy in the air—a little extra jolt of excitement. It’s because of the Forest Fair—a huge festival celebrating Alaskan music, arts, and crafts. Artists and visitors pour in from all over Alaska to perform or just have fun, and the entire community comes together to make it happen. It’s the kind of event that visitors may stumble across, then return the following year just to experience it again.
If you love bluegrass and camping in the Alaskan wilderness, this is the festival for you. Bands play for 20 hours each day, and there are vendors selling handmade craft items and food of all kinds. The festival is also focused around camping, and the whole family is encouraged to participate: there’s even a designated family camping area.
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.
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.
Framed by green mountains on three sides, Kelty field is the perfect setting for an end-of-summer party – a celebration of Aleutian life and the people who make Unalaska their home (whether year-round or just for the summer). Coordinated by the city’s Parks, Culture and Recreation Department, the Heart of the Aleutians Festival is a family affair, where artists and their crafts, small businesses and non-profits fill the community tent with vendor booths to display and offer their treasures and services.
One week after the town of Willow hosts the Iditarod Sled Dog Restart, locals take advantage of the groomed trail by playing golf on it! Started by the Chamber of Commerce, this icy links tournament draws some 100 foul-weather golfers for a 9-hole tourney. According to participants, the ball bounces on groomed snow just like on real grass. There’s a limit of two clubs per person, More...
The first Sunday of August brings a special event to Homer: the opportunity to step into private gardens that showcase the uniqueness of Alaskan gardening and get some real insight into what it’s like to work the land in a place where the growing season is short and the days long. Some 400 people come to Homer from all over, some of them gardeners from other parts of Alaska, and others from outside the state who simply have an interest in gardens.
Perfectly timed for the approaching holiday season, the Ketchikan Arts & Humanities Council’s Winter Arts Faire showcases the creations of local artists, which make for great gifts. More than 80 artists exhibit their work here, so you could easily fill all of your holiday wish lists with local, handmade gifts.
Every September since 2004, an interesting tradition has taken place: locals create a giant woven basket with birch, fireweed, and grass, set it out on the beach, decorate it, throw notes into it, and then, at sundown, burn it up in spectacular fashion. Artist Mavis Muller began this unique event, and today, it makes for a vibrant evening, filled with music and dancing, that showcases a strong community spirit and respect for the local environment.
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.
The Kachemak Bay Wooden Boat Society holds an annual festival in September. Features include a tour of the waters includes a WWII era wooden tug converted for charter use, kids boat building, marine demonstrations (including knot tying, net mending, and bronze casting. For entertainment, listen to tall tales and poets.
Many events are held here throughout the year, the largest being the Kenai Peninsula Fair held annually the 3rd weekend in August. Locals call this the biggest little fair in Alaska. The festivities include a rodeo, parade, livestock competition, horse show and exhibits ranging from arts and crafts to produce.
Get a real taste of native Alaska. This festival—called Nalukataq—is a tradition of the Inupiaq Eskimos of northern Alaska, held after the spring whale-hunting season to give the locals a chance to say thanks for a successful hunting season. There are traditional songs and dances, including a blanket toss, where a dancer is tossed high in the air from a blanket made of seal skins. You’ll find the most events in Barrow, though other towns in the region also host their own celebrations.
An annual, must attend event with fabulous art, live music and dance performances. Local Alaskan artisans and food vendors are featured. The Seward Art’s Council promotes this ever growing event, with a commitment to youth involvement, education, and creative inspiration; as well as a philosophy of low environmental impact. It is a family-oriented festival with children's activities and artist’s projects throughout the weekend; including the creation of a mural-in-a-day by members of the Seward Mural Society.
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.
In mid-February, the Mat-Su Valley hosts the beginning of the longest and toughest snowmobile race event in the world: the Iron Dog. In its 30th year in 2013, the race features teams of two snowmobile racers riding from Wasilla to Nome to Fairbanks, covering more than 2,000 miles of rugged Alaskan terrain. Sea ice crossings, the frozen Yukon River, and treacherous passes await these rugged snowmobilers, who don’t slow down for anything; some of them average 55 mph through the snowy terrain.
The Alaska Bald Eagle Festival takes place the second week of November, coinciding with the largest congregation of bald eagles in the world. The non-profit American Bald Eagle Foundation hosts the event, and tickets include transport to the Bald Eagle Council Grounds, live raptor presentations, educational programs, and other events.
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.
There are classical music festivals, jazz festivals, and rock festivals. And then there’s HomeSkillet—a fun, eclectic, varied, and unique festival that defies definition. The offspring of Home Skillet Records (a production company started by two Sitka High graduates), this music festival—held over two or three days in mid-summer—is in its 7th year and features More...
Summers are busy in Ketchikan, with up to five cruise ships making port every day, but the locals also know how to play hard—especially at the huge Blueberry Arts Festival, hosted every August by the Ketchikan Arts and Humanities Council. In a town of 14,000, you’re likely to see as many as 8,000 people come out to this family-friendly event that celebrates the Southeast Alaskan blueberry.
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.
Visit local galleries and shops in downtown Seward to see featured local artists and enjoy local Alaskan hospitality. See handmade jewelry, pottery, photography, paintings, metal work, carvings, clothing and more. Occasionally the event includes local musicians, dancers or drummers.
You probably call them “snowmobiles,” but Alaskans call them “snowmachines.” The Alcan 200 is billed as the “fastest snowmachine race on earth.” Machines have been clocked over 110 miles per hour as they zoom along the 154-mile course, from the Canadian Border to Dezadeash Lake, Yukon Territory. Portions of the Haines Highway are closed during the race, and plenty of partying takes place in town before and after this January event.
One of the most unique golf outings you could ever experience takes place every August, on the Aleutian tundra thousands of miles from any established golf course. This is a place where you can (and perhaps should) wear knee high boots as you advance along a 9-hole course winding through the Pyramid Valley of Unalaska Island.
The “Haines Beerfest,” as its known by locals, is very popular, and tickets sell out weeks in advance. It kicks off with a gourmet dinner, paired with beer tastings. The following day, the crowd descends on the Southeast Alaska State Fairgrounds, where craft beer and homebrew samples abound.
Talkeetna celebrates the dark month of December with its annual Talkeetna Winterfest. This popular festival attracts folks from Anchorage and Fairbanks with its famed Bachelor Society Ball and Auction. Come watch the bidding as Talkeetna Bachelors fetch as much as $1,000 for a drink and dance at the ball. The auction and ball, held the first Saturday of the month, are the highlights. More...
This part of the state centers around fishing, so it’s no surprise to find a twist on the traditional rodeo: the fishermen’s rodeo! And that’s just the beginning: the fair also hosts livestock and agricultural exhibits, arts & crafts (including beautiful quilts), bands, a fiddle contest, a parade, and a children’s carnival. And to eat? Fresh king salmon, of course.