Winter, vast and pure is filled with celebrations and festive occasions. Most events are exclusive to Fairbanks and showcase snow and ice through sports and activities. Other winter happenings highlight artistic and cultural events.
Check out North Pole's holiday-themed fun. The six week Christmas in Ice event takes place at the Winter Ice Park and features a variety of ice sculpting competitions where huge blocks of ice are carved into holiday-themed ice sculptures. A quintessentially family-friendly event, Christmas in Ice also has a frosty playground crafted out if ice equipped with a fantastic ice maze, ice twirlers and ice slides. More holiday fun can be found the first weekend of December at North Pole’s Winterfest which includes a candle lighting ceremony, a holiday bazaar, fireworks and a community tree lighting ceremony.
Downtown Fairbanks comes alive on and around winter solstice, December 21 — the day that heralds the return of the light. Featuring fireworks that can’t be seen in the summer time, musical and artistic events and shopping for handmade Alaskan items. Stroll the streets and view delightful holiday decorations and light posts enamored with charming, lit-up snowflakes.
Thousands and thousands of friends, families and Alaskan visitors from near and far come to witness this miraculous month-long event. The artists appear to set the ice sculptures free as they carefully carve huge, crystal-clear ice blocks. This year’s championship promises to deliver over two hundred, larger-than-life sculptures. The annual World Ice Art Championships, which draws in over 70 teams and 100 individuals, utilizes over three million pounds of ice that is harvested and moved by forklift from nearby O’Grady Pond. Ice art is truly spectacular, the sculptures rival those wrought in stone, and never cease to capture both the mind and the imagination.
Now in its 17th year, the Denali Winterfest offers loads of outdoor fun and educational events. Featuring dog sledding, a 5K race, snowshoeing, hiking, park ranger programs and more. This engaging community-oriented festival starts off with a potluck and ends with a chili feed and cake walk—small town charm in the heart of Denali National Park.
Step back in time and you will discover that people of the far north have been celebrating winter in March for many years. Created in 1934, the Winter Carnival features arts, dog mushing and ice sculpting events. Times may have changed a bit since the 1930s but the energy and excitement of Winter Carnival still remains. Imagine the Winter Carnival Queen sitting on her throne carved out of ice or a team of dogs streaming down the frozen Chena River. Look for events hosted by the Alaska Dog Mushers Association, Ice Alaska and the Fairbanks Arts Association during this energetic time period.
The Fairbanks Winter Carnival Ice Queen (circa 1940) sits on her ice throne covered with furs.
Photograph compliments of the University of Alaska Archives, Alaska and Polar Regions Collections. (Bernie Rinear Collection, Accession Number 1989-0199-00010)