Looking to enjoy Alaskan culture on your day off? We discuss the most popular annual springtime festivals and what you can expect to experience if you participate.
During your employment in Alaska, you’ll get to experience a lot of the state’s diverse culture, ecosystems and wildlife. One of our favorite ways to digest what it’s like to live in Alaska is to celebrate alongside locals and tourists in one of the numerous spring festivals.
There are festivals statewide, nearly every month you can find some community event in major cities and small villages. So choosing what festivals to attend can be a bit tricky. To help, we chose the five best spring festivals that are close to where you might be working.
Alaska’s unparalleled beauty beckons exploration. Many Anchorage locals love adventuring outdoors, and the annual RunFest feeds this adoration. RunFest is a collection of running events designed for runners of all abilities. As a bonus, the run is also a qualifier for the Boston Marathon. The main run often takes place on a fast, out-and-back course that offers scenic coastline views and little elevation gain.
Iditarod Sled Dog Race
Alaska and dog sledding go together like hot cocoa and marshmallows. If you work in Alaska, you can’t miss the kick-off celebration for the world’s most famous sled dog race, which begins in downtown Anchorage. The spectator-friendly festivities begin on the first Saturday in March. The first mile and a half of the race happens on city streets, often crowded with thousands of fans. The following six miles run east and south, using Anchorage’s bike and ski paths that wind through greenbelts and parks.
Copper River Shorebird Festival
Alaska is among the most remarkable environments in the country for birders. The best bird-watching event in Alaska is along the Copper River Delta, where participants can see ducks, geese, bald eagles, and more. During the event, the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network works to educate visitors and protect critical shorebird habitat. Bird-lovers who are in the area will struggle to best watching more than 100,000 shorebirds during their annual migration.
Alaska Folk Festival
Every April in Juneau, music lovers and musicians gather for the annual Alaska Folk Festival. This free festival is Alaska’s oldest and largest music festival. What’s unique and a bit chaotic about AFF is that musicians aren’t required to audition to perform so you’ll encounter a wide variety of acts and talents. As a bonus, the event is supported entirely by donations and volunteers. Only the headline musician gets paid; everybody participates for free.
Girdwood Spring Carnival
Skiers working near Seward can’t miss the Girdwood Spring Carnival in mid-April. Girdwood is a mere 45-minute drive south of the city. The best festival event is the Taco Bell Slush Cup ski and snowboarding competition. Competitors dress up in unique costumes and soar down Mount Alyeska and launch off a ramp with the hopes of clearing a 90-foot pond filled with freezing, slushy water.
When you find a job in Alaska, you’ll have plenty of invigorating activities to participate in. These festivals are just the start of a once-in-a-lifetime journey. So what are you waiting for? Search our open jobs and begin your Alaska adventure.