When you are in a small town in Alaska, it can be a major enterprise to travel. Many towns are hours and hours away from the next closest outpost of civilization. It is in these isolated places that they really know how to party. Check out these amazing festivals that you only find in the middle of nowhere. These parties are so fun, you will actually never want to leave the small town in Alaska. Beware! Many a person will tell you they came to Alaska for a festival weekend or short term summer job and never left. Find out why we love our weird and wacky small towns and the crazy parties they throw.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Chickenstock, Chicken
The second weekend of June brings many Alaskans far to the north near the Canadian border on the Top Of The World Highway. A thousand people gather in the tiny gold mining town to dress as chickens and listen to music. There is a plane that flies over and drops marshmallow treats for the kids. It's a family festival and a great time.
2. Kenai River Festival, Soldotna
The second weekend of June boasts the Kenai River Festival celebrating the health of the crystal clear Kenai River. The celebration includes music, food vendors, and a fun run with categories up to 10K.
3. Last Frontier Theatre Conference, Valdez
This unique festival brings hundreds of playwrights to coastal Alaska every year for a conference celebrating theatre arts. An international crowd descends on the small town to read, watch and perform plays for a week in the rainy Valdez June. Anyone is welcome to attend the play readings, workshops, and the evening performances for a few dollars.
4. Alaskan Scottish Games, Palmer
On the third Saturday of June the Alaska State Fairgrounds comes alive with Scottish pride in a festival for the Scotland diaspora in Alaska. The games have a wide variety of competitions including pro athletics, dance, drumming, shortbread, and tall tale telling. Enjoy a celebration of all things Scottish and enjoy the bagpipes all day long.
5. Midnight Sun Festival, Fairbanks
The summer solstice at the 64th Parallel means near 24 hours of sunlight on the longest day. Residents of the interior close the streets downtown on the Sunday closest to the solstice to dance, sing and eat together at this rowdy summer festival. It's a beautiful time to visit Fairbanks and an excellent celebration of summer fun.
6. Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival
Another Solstice weekend event a few hours south of Anchorage is the Moose Pass Solstice event. They have live music, a bake sale, a raffle, a pie contest and games for kids all day long. Enjoy this family friendly camping weekend event.
7. Nulukataq, Utqiagvik (and most northern villages)
This whaling festival is a celebration of is a tradition of the Inupiaq Eskimos of northern Alaska. Held after the spring whale-hunting season, the celebration is to give the locals a chance to say thanks for a successful hunting season. The celebratory blanket toss is performed where one person is tossed by many others high into the air on a hide held by the whole community.
8. Fourth of July, McCarthy
McCarthy is an eccentric little town out in Wrangell Mountains that has a very good time on the Fourth of July. There is a parade of trucks, four wheelers, and dog sled teams. Games last all afternoon including a hula hooping contest, the egg toss and three legged races. There is a softball game in the evening and music all night long.
9. Girdwood Forest Fair, Girdwood
The picturesque ski town of Girdwood is tucked into the Chugach Mountains and is at it's most glorious in high summer. Thousands descend on this small town to dance and play in the meadows, listening to Alaska's excellent selection of local musicians and some from out of state, too.
10. Bear Paw Festival, Eagle River
The second weekend in July is this unique festival that features a chainsaw carving demo, a carnival and a classic car show. There is also a beauty pageant. Enjoy this weird and wacky festival.
11. Golden Days, Fairbanks
A celebration on the third weekend of July annually, this week of old time events celebrates the pioneer history of Fairbanks and the gold rush of the 1890's that turned the trading post into a boom town. A river regatta, a rubber duckie race down the river, and a mobile jail that arrests locals until they donate money for charity.
12. Salmonfest, Ninilchik
The first weekend of August is the biggest music festival in the state, Salmonfest. Designed to raise money for the The Kachemak Bay Conservation Society, the festival has headliners of epic magnitude and Alaskan artisans, food vendors, musicians and craft artists of all kinds.
13. Gold Rush Days, Valdez
This city wide celebration the first week of August in Valdez honors the pioneer history of the area. The profits from the event are donated to a variety of local charities, especially to those focused on children and the future of Valdez.
14. Seward Music & Arts Festival, Seward
Late in the season on the third weekend of September, Seward has an excellent music festival that brings travelers from all over Alaska. Celebrating the end of the busy summer work and tourist seasons with local-Alaskan artisan craft and food vendors and musicians.
15. Ice Worm Festival, Cordova
Ice worms are tiny little worms that live in the ice of glaciers. No one really understands how they survive. In 1961, a few Cordova residents invented a festival honouring these creatures to break up the winter malaise. The Cordova Iceworm Festival is held the first weekend of each February in the remote seaside town Cordova. There are survival suit races and a Miss Iceworm pageant among other festivities.
Have you been to any of these parties in Alaska? Tell us about it in the comments below.