“The Official Start of the Iditarod,” has been added to the already full list of events and attractions that draw visitors to Fairbanks, Alaska. The community of Fairbanks, with a population of 97,972, is 260 of miles north of Anchorage and 125 of miles south of the Arctic Circle
Due to low snowfall in some of the most treacherous sections of the trail’s roughly 1,000 miles, the official start of The 2015 Iditarod Sled Dog Race will be moved from Willow, Alaska to Fairbanks and commence Monday, March 9, after the ceremonial start is scheduled for March 7 in Anchorage. 2003 was the only other time the starting line has been moved from its traditional starting point. This year’s Iditarod will pass through two new checkpoints in Interior Alaska: Huslia and Koyukuk, as the dogs and mushers travel about 1,000 miles total to the finish in Nome.
Visitors to Fairbanks for the start of the Iditarod can also enjoy the 2015 World Ice Art Championships. Fairbanks is the home of the largest ice sculpting competition in the world and features more than 70 teams from across the globe. Approximately 45,000 visitors come to the Ice Art Park annually to see these intricately carved masterpieces. Sculptors will use over four million pounds of "Arctic Diamond" ice—exceptionally clear, thick ice—considered by sculptors to be “the best in the world.” The theme for the 26th Annual World Ice Art Championships is “Sculpting World Friendships,” and runs from February 23rd through March 29th, 2015.
The 42nd Annual Festival of Native Arts is another must see for Iditarod visitors. Scheduled for March 5th, 6th & 7th, 2015, the festival provides a forum for Alaska Native groups to share their rich cultural heritages. Dance groups and artisans from Alaskan locations as distant as Hooper Bay, Atmautluak, Barrow, Juneau, Huslia, Stevens Village and Shishmaref will join with invited guests from the continental United States, Japan, Russia and Canada for diverse presentations, crafts and food booths.
While you’re here for the Iditarod don’t forget to look up, because early March is a great time for viewing the aurora borealis. Fairbanks is one of the best places on earth for experiencing the beautiful and mysterious northern lights, and if you stay three nights in Fairbanks, you’ll have an 80% chance of seeing them. Prime viewing time is late evening through the wee hours of the morning. You can experience the aurora from a heated "aurorium" cabin, on an overnight sled dog trip, by snow cat tour to a panoramic vista, in a horse drawn sleigh, on a flight above the Arctic Circle, or simply walk outside and look up to see the captivating northern lights weave their way across the night sky. If the aurora appears in the middle of the night, many hotels offer wake-up calls so you won't miss a moment. The longer you stay, the better your chances of viewing a once in a lifetime display!