Sweet summertime. There simply is no shortage of cool things to see and do during the summer months. Summer events take advantage of the everlasting sunshine and include the Midnight Sun Baseball Game (starts at 10:30pm on summer solstice), the Yukon 800 boat race, the Midnight Sun Run, the Midnight Sun Intertribal Powwow and the Equinox Marathon.
There’s no better place to celebrate summer solstice than downtown Fairbanks, Alaska—basking in 24-hour daylight just 140 miles south of the Arctic Circle. The historic Midnight Sun Festival is Alaska’s largest single-day event which celebrates sunshine in the Golden Heart City. The free 12-hour street fair is marked by 30,000 attendees perusing hundreds of exhibitors offering Alaskan merchandise, delicious food and services. In addition, there are three stages with over 30 live music performances as well as gold panning, break dancing, a climbing wall, pony rides and so much more!
Annually on summer solstice
The Midnight Sun Game tradition dates back to the earliest days of Fairbanks, Alaska. For over a century, a special baseball game has annually been held in Fairbanks, Alaska on June 21st.
On the longest day of each year (with a full 24 hours of daylight in the vast Tanana Valley), Fairbanksans celebrate the coming of summer with the playing of this traditional game - which continues through the midnight hour and never uses artificial lights. With Fairbanks a mere 150 miles south of the Arctic Circle, the sun is just beginning to set in the North as the game of baseball gets underway and, at its conclusion some three hours later, the sun begins to rise again - also in the North.
It is a phenomenon ever so rare. As part of the annual celebration, the game is stopped at the half-inning closest to midnight for the singing of the Alaska Flag Song. Due to its novelty, the Midnight Sun Game has enjoyed wide popularity. Baseball America called it one of the “12 Must-See Events for the Baseball Fan.” ESPN Magazine selected the Midnight Sun Game as the Number One Destination for the “2010 Baseball Road Trip.” GQ Magazine dubbed the tradition one of “86 Reasons to be proud to be an American," and in 2012 Yankees Magazine called the event “Baseball’s Most Natural Promotion.”For Fairbanksans, the game is a way to reflect on the passing of another year, and the survival of another long winter.
Each year in mid-July there are a series of fun activities, known as Golden Days, recognizing the discovery of gold by Italian immigrant Felix Pedro and the founding of Fairbanks. Golden Days boast exciting events for all ages including the biggest parade in Alaska, a street fair with a special Kids Korner and a rubber duckie race along the Chena River. Come celebrate Fairbanks’ Golden Heart history and try to spot some Felix Pedro look-a-likes, can-can girls and pioneers running around town.
One of the summer’s most anticipated events is the Tanana Valley State Fair. Fairbanks locals and visitors swarm to the fairgrounds just off College Road for loads of fun and entertainment. In addition to usual fair features, you’ll also find activities and attractions unique to Fairbanks’ northern locale like gold panning and mining displays, World Eskimo-Indian Olympics demonstrations, Alaska-grown berry tasting, a freight dog pull and more. And if you’ve ever wanted to see the power the midnight sun has on our growing season, check out the giant cabbages, pumpkins and other massive vegetables on display.
Gyros, elephant ears, killer shrimp, giant cream puffs…the list goes on with enough food vendors to fill your belly ten times over and the midway has rides to satisfy everyone from preschoolers to thrill-seekers plus games for all ages. Scheduled activities include the classics such as watermelon and pie eating contests, antique tractor pull, mud bogs, a barn dance and around-the-clock music and entertainment by local and visiting bands and performers. There is a wide variety of handmade arts and crafts by local artisans on display and for sale to check out as well. By the last day of this festive ten-day event, our Interior nights are just beginning to grow dark enough to enjoy a spectacular show of fireworks. Grab a bag of kettle corn and a cup of hot chocolate from one of the many vendors and snuggle up on the grandstands with your closest friends—the perfect way to ring in summer’s end.