Photo by Amy Johnson/amyjacqjohnson

December 21, Winter Solstice, is a celebrated day in the far north. Locals watch as the low-hanging winter sun briefly rises, clings to the horizon and sets a mere three hours and forty-one minutes later. Though before and after the sunsets and rises there is an hour of civil twilight that affords the Fairbanks area over six hours of celestial light. The snowy landscape sets the stage for the sunsets and sunrises, the alpine glow and the aurora borealis while creating a surreal fairy tale like atmosphere. Solstice is the crown jewel of the Winter Season and on this day those that live here on the 65th parallel herald the return of the light.

Local photographers recognize this beauty and work to capture the magical Winter Season on film and we have asked a few of them to share some of their favorite shots along with their thoughts on what Solstice and the Winter Season mean to them.

Sadie Lambert / @spotofteatravels

Solstice - dress in snowSolstice - blowing snow

“Experiencing the solstice in Interior Alaska is phenomenal, and the best way to do it is to get out there and embrace the winter. Snow boots are required, but acting your age is optional.” 

Andy Witteman / @cnlastro

Solstice - aurora behind trees

"When it comes down to it, the aurora is not one thing for me they are literally everything. I just hope that someone, somewhere looks at my aurora photographs and it turns a light on in them."

Amanda Mitchell / @athabascan.adventures

Solstice - Pioneer Park

"There is a beauty in an Alaskan winter, a beauty that you’d have to see or experience to believe. The winters are long but somehow we make it work and we thrive up here in the frozen north! But it is so nice after Solstice when the sun decides to shine a little longer."

Solstice - running in snow

Sarah Barclow / @uaflars

Solstice - reindeerSolstice - Musk ox in snow

“The time around the winter solstice is a quiet time at the Large Animal Research Station, filled with feeding the animals and plowing paths for the muskoxen. The animals thrive in the cold and dark climate, and we usually see their most playful behavior during this time of year. As the days get longer, the staff gets excited as it means we are getting closer to calving season!”

Michelle Myhill / @akiris

Solstice - snow covered trees

"Solstice is what we all look forward to during the long, cold darkness of winter in Alaska. It is the promise of light and reawakening."

Solstice - Clouds over trees

Frank Stelges / @frankstelges

Solstice - Sun burst over snowy landscape

“When I moved to Alaska a couple years ago, I was not afraid of the cold but of the darkness. To my surprise it’s not dark here at all. Because of the flat arc of the movement of the sun, we have 3-4 hours of wonderful blue hour before and after sunset - perfect for me as a photographer. At night you have the moon which is so bright in our clear, clean air that even a half moon means you don’t need a headlamp to snowshoe or ski through the night. And of course the aurora is dancing nearly every night bright and green over the sky and shines on you. Everything is just very quiet and peaceful here outside of town and nature moves slowly, sleepy under a blanket of snow and the dim light of the low golden sun or the bright silver shine of the moon.“

Solstice - sun over mountains

Amy Johnson / @amyjacqjohnson

Solstice - aurora and snow covered trees

"For me, winter solstice is a time of rejuvenation and introspection. A time to slow down, rest and enjoy the comfort of home, candlelight and festive gatherings with family and friends. It’s the season to embrace star filled skies, mystical aurora and snow covered forests. It’s a time of bittersweet gratitude for as darkness diminishes light returns & soon I will find myself missing the stars once again."