Anchorage’s most popular ongoing event is the Anchorage Market & Festival, which takes place at the parking lot on 3rd Avenue and E Street Saturday–Sunday 10 a.m.–6 p.m. mid-May–mid-September.
Every Wednesday and Friday at noon, head downtown to 4th Avenue and E Street for free Music in the Park (907/279-5650, www.anchoragedowntown.org) next to the visitors center. Other events take place here most other weekday afternoons in the summer.
Anchorage has not just one but two different semipro baseball teams—the Anchorage Bucs (907/561-2827, www.anchoragebucs.com) and the Anchorage Glacier Pilots (907/274-3627, www.glacierpilots.com)—so there’s usually a game worth watching June–early August. Past players have included such pro stars as Reggie Jackson, Dave Winfield, Mark McGuire, and Randy Johnson. Games take place at Mulcahy Stadium at East 16th Avenue and Cordova Street.
The Arctic Thunder Air Show (907/552-7469, www.elmendorf.af.mil) at Elmendorf Air Force Base comes around each June, with a stunning performance by the Air Force’s Thunderbirds.
Three Barons Renaissance Faire (907/868-8012, www.3barons.org) takes place in early June at Hilltop Ski Area, and the crowd gets into the act by pelting rotten acting with rotten tomatoes. The Spenard Solstice Street Party (www.spenardsolstice.com) brings an offbeat parade, live music, and food booths to Spenard, while the serious athletes race in the big Mayor’s Midnight Sun Marathon (www.mayorsmarathon.com).
Held at Kincaid Park in June, Blues on the Green (907/272-1341) attracts such acclaimed artists as Otis Rush, Johnny Winter, and Bo Diddley. There’s a 4th of July parade downtown, but when the fireworks show starts at midnight the sky still isn’t very dark!
Also in early July, the Bear Paw Festival (907/694-4702, www.cer.org) comes to nearby Eagle River, with a classic car show, races, a chili cook-off, carnival rides, and the state’s biggest parade.
Several of the biggest “local” events—the State Fair in Palmer, the Girdwood Forest Fair, the Talkeetna Bluegrass Festival, the Mountain Marathon in Seward, and the KBBI Concert on the Lawn in Homer—are not in Anchorage. But if you’re around when any of these are happening, get out of town to where the fun really is.
In recent years, tourism to Alaska has increased in the winter months as visitors discover what Alaskans already know—that winter opens up a panoply of outdoor options. Several companies specialize in winter tours and activities; see the visitors center for brochures.
The Anchorage Folk Festival (907/566-2334, www.anchoragefolkfestival.org) is a major winter diversion, with free concerts that fill two consecutive weekends in late January. Concerts take place on the campus of the University of Alaska Anchorage.
In mid-February, the Fur Rendezvous (907/274-1177, www.furrondy.net) is one the city’s biggest annual events, with all sorts of fun activities during this 10-day-long festival. A carnival packs a downtown lot, and there are car races, fireworks, snow sculpture and ice carving contests, dress balls, concerts, ski races, dog-pulling contests, the world championship sled dog race, and a very popular run-with-the-reindeer event (slightly) modeled after the running of the bulls in Pamplona.
The one Alaskan event that always attracts national attention is the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race (907/376-5155, www.iditarod.com) from Anchorage to Nome. The start is in downtown Anchorage in early March.
Another very popular event is the Great Alaska Shootout (907/786-1250, www.shootout.net) basketball tournament that takes place in Sullivan Arena each November and features seven top college teams and the lowly University of Alaska Seawolves. This one gets national media attention because it’s so early in the year.
The Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage (907/276-7609, www.anchoragenordicski.com) keeps dozens of miles of local trails groomed, and puts on such events as the Tour of Anchorage (www.tourofanchorage.com) in early March. The Ski for Women (907/279-9581, www.alaskaskiforwomen.org) in early February is the largest North American ski event for women, attracting more than 1,500 participants.
Spring Carnival and Slush Cup, in mid-April, is a wet and wild event for skiers as they try to cross a slushy pond at Alyeska Resort (907/754-1111, www.alyeskaresort.com).
© Don Pitcher from Moon Alaska, 10th Edition