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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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...
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...
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.
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.
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.
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!
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...
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.
Unalaskans are “always ready” for music, a tradition that goes back to the 1920s. Back in those days, there was just one piano on the whole Aleutian Chain, and it was used by Bering Sea Patrol commander Captain Frances Van Boskerck (along with friends Alfred Nannestad and Joseph Fournier) to write a catchy tune that became United States Coast Guard’s anthem “Semper Paratus” (“always ready”). Today, there are plenty more pianos, along with plenty of piano students and music lovers. From regular recitals to visiting artists, workshops, and jam sessions, Unalaskans fill the Aleutian air with song all year long.
The first few weeks of each year are a time of renewal. In Kake each January 8, residents and guests gather at the Community Hall to commemorate the anniversary of the city's 1912 incorporation (it was the first Native village to do so). Kake Day celebrates the city’s self-governance, as well as its Tlingit roots.
This annual winter festival, in existence for more than 50 years, is held on back-to-back weekends at the end of January and beginning of February. With the state’s biggest winter fireworks display, $1,000 bingo cash pots, sled dog races, talent contests, foot races and fat-tire bike races, the festival is a regional draw and a fun place for travelers to see Alaskans cut More...
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...
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.
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.
Robbers with guns drawn stride down Nome’s Front Street each solstice with one goal: to rob the bank and get away with bags of loot. The plan is somehow always foiled, but that doesn’t matter. Those robbers keep trying, year after year! Watch for the bad guys to come calling at high noon just after the Midnight Sun parade.
The Delta is for the birds, literally. Swans, geese, ducks, shorebirds, and bald eagle are all temporary or permanent inhabitants of the area. The Delta is an integral part of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, which brings together organizations to recognize and protect critical shorebird habitat. Bird-lovers will have a hard time beating the spectacular gathering of hundreds of thousands of shorebirds during their annual migration.
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...
Fall in Unalaska brings cooler air, rich color to the tundra, and a plethora of berries. While locals can be pretty secretive about their favorite picking spots, they are generous with the fruits of their labors – at the annual Blueberry Bash. Here you’ll find an amazing array of blueberry dishes – table after table loaded with variations on tasty pies, cobblers and tarts, along with jams, vinegars, chutneys, salsas and everything in between.
An annual event with local Alaskan artists, featuring beautiful work for your holiday shopping pleasure. Don't forget to check out the food vendors, live entertainment, holiday music and Santa! Generally the first week in December at the Dale R. Lindsey Alaska Railroad Intermodal Facility.
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...
The view from Nome’s Anvil Mountain is worth the effort it takes to climb 1,100 feet to the summit. Two very different summer competitions feature a fast race to the top. How much time you spend up there enjoying the grand view of Nome and the Bering Sea is all up to you.
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.
“You too can clean up your act,” promise sponsors of Nome’s wacky Labor Day Bathtub Race. Whether a participant or a bystander, be prepared to get splashed as tubs full of water, bubbles – and a bather – are raced 100 yards down Front Street. For Nome, this is good, clean fun!
This is the lottery, Alaska-style. To enter, just buy a ticket and pick the date and time (down to the minute) in April or May when you think the winter ice on the Tanana River will break. Winning could mean a windfall: the pool has reached nearly $300,000 in recent years.
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.
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.
June 14 - June 21
Join this annual competition hosted in Downtown Anchorage at Ship Creek where anglers cast their line for a prize-winning King Salmon. It’s one of Anchorage’s most exciting events - come and watch, or cast your own line. Visitors and locals can participate! Rent all the equipment you need and purchase a license from The Bait Shack.
Each year, the streets of downtown Fairbanks burst with a 12-hour, family-friendly street fair packed with live music, performances and hundreds of booths selling food, crafts, official festival t-shirts, and handmade souvenirs. Activities include face painting, gold panning, an annual BBQ cook-off, sled dog puppies, and a skate park. This popular block party reflects the importance of summer solstice to Interior Alaskans.
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.
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.
Jazz in Alaska? In the winter? You bet. In fact, this three-day festival, which takes place over the first weekend in February, has been going on for 17 years. And it continues to draw musicians from New Orleans, Detroit, San Francisco, and New York. The festival’s mission is to bring jazz to Sitka. Professional musicians headline evening performances, but music students also More...
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.
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.