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.
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.
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.
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...
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!
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 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...
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.
It’s only fitting that an Alaska fishing village throws a great salmon festival. Every year in July, the town of Cordova takes a break from fishing to turn out for the Copper River Salmon Jam. This festival aims to celebrate salmon and promote the health and sustainability of local salmon runs.
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.
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...
This unique festival in Homer, Alaska is an art-lovers dream. Worldwide artists perform and present for audiences in this artsy nirvana on the Kenai Peninsula overlooking glaciers and mountains on Kachemak Bay. Choose from 100 art events in music, visual arts, film, comedy, written word, theater, and dance. Come for the adventure—stay for the culture.
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...
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...
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.
The summer outdoor Farmer's Market, on the right side of Ocean Drive en route to the Spit, offers not only fresh produce and art, but also performing artists on stage. It’s a very pleasant aspect of Homer life. The entertainment ranges from singer/songwriter guitarists, quartets, elaborate dance performances to marimba bands to mention a few. In a town so full of talent, one can always expect an added treat at the Farmer’s Market, not only in the performing arts but also the wide variety of visual arts.
This big pullout doesn’t look like much, but each spring bird watchers from around the world gather here to look for elusive species of raptors and falcons. Migrating north for summer, red tail hawks, sharp-shinned hawks, gyre falcons and other birds of prey gather in large numbers here, playing on the uplifts along the windy cliffs. In addition to seeing impressive numbers of More...
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.
All races are on courses that make them easy to watch from the end of the Spit. Frequently they race around the 'green can' marker on a shoal west of the Spit, and Gull Island, a few miles across Kachemak Bay from end of the Spit. Sometimes there are only four boats racing and other times up to 20. They are very open-minded sailors and whether or not you have had any More...
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.
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.
Musicians don’t even have to audition to perform at this “come-one, come-all” festival, and not knowing quite what you’ll get makes the event even more spontaneous and fun. It’s also free, which means it’s a great opportunity to bring the whole family to enjoy the music.
A relatively new event, the Celebration of Bears takes place in August, a time when the pink salmon run is peaking and bear viewing along the Chilkoot River is most reliable. Hosted by the Alaska Chilkoot Bear Foundation, the free, two-day festival promotes bear education.
Located on the shores of Kachemak Bay, Homer is one of the most accessible and beautiful places for shorebird viewing in Alaska. Many visitors fly in (with the birds) while others drive the scenic road, about four hours south from Anchorage. Over 100,000 shorebirds migrate through this area, some staying to make their homes here. Many travel thousands of miles resting and feeding at a few critical stop-over points such as the base of the Homer Spit on their journey to the breeding grounds in the Alaska tundra.
This festival brings together some of America’s most talented string musicians and has garnered national acclaim. Celebrated for over 40 years, the festival is the vision of Paul Rosenthal, a violinist from New York who visited Alaska while on tour in 1972. It’s grown to include fall and winter performances in Anchorage and other parts of the state. The stringed More...
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.
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.
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 World Eskimo-Indian Olympics (WEIO) were formed over fifty years ago to spread knowledge and awareness of traditional skills and games to visitors and residents of Alaska. Each summer, the top athletes from the circumpolar north (including teams from Greenland and Russia) gather in Fairbanks to compete in tests of strength, endurance, balance, and tolerance for pain. World Eskimo-Indian Olympics usually runs from July 16th-19th at the Carlson Center.
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 More...
Come try your luck at ice fishing during the month-long Mat-Su Valley Pike Derby. Drill a hole and start jigging for pike, a large invasive species with a voracious appetite that grows to impressive lengths (winning fish are close to four feet long). Hosted by organizations from the town of Houston, the derby features prizes for the most fish caught, as well as the longest, heaviest, 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.
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.
Mushing in Alaska is often a family activity, with entire households devoted to the feeding, training, and care of dog kennels that can house more than 100 canines! Teenagers from these families, plus other teens who have stumbled into the world of mushing, compete in a 160-mile race the weekend prior to the start of the Iditarod. It’s a small field, usually under 15 people, and More...
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.
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...
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...
One of the best ways to view the true spirit of a small community is to take part in its annual Fourth of July parade. This is true for the City of Unalaska, where you’ll see a number of unique floats put together by local businesses, community groups and individuals. The spirit of patriotism runs high in this wind-swept Aleutian island, whose history includes an attack by Japanese bombers during World War II.