2017 Summer Festival Season
By: Courtney Dowd-Stanley
It’s Alaska summer festival season and that means it’s time to let your hair down, dance to live jams, eat good grub, shop, get artsy, sip brews, and play all day beneath the midnight sun. No matter where you are in the Last Frontier, there is a summer festival on this list that is calling your name. Take a break from the yard maintenance and summer chores, and let loose a little, would ya? C’mon—you deserve it! Get outdoors and let the warm summer sun load you up with plentiful amounts of Vitamin D. Enjoy basking in all the carefree, happy vibes that summer fests are known for. Load up your closest pals or bring the kiddos along to enjoy drinking up life with lots of other like-minded locals.
1: Sitka Summer Music Festival – Sitka, Alaska
HAPPENING RIGHT NOW! The Sitka Summer Music Festival kicked off on June 6th and lasts through July 2nd. World-class artists come to this charming coastal town in Southeast Alaska, and performances can be found all over town throughout some surprisingly creative venues. From cafes to boats in the Sitka Sound, classical music brings an effervescent life to this community that is both refreshing and overwhelmingly welcomed. This is one summer festival that you don’t want to miss!
2: Downtown Summer Solstice – Anchorage, Alaska
Mark your calendar for June 17th where Alaska’s largest city will be throwing the summer solstice bash of a lifetime. Enjoy the Hero Games, beer garden, crafts, kids’ play zone, and the taste of Anchorage food zone. Fun for all ages, this event is sure to be the highlight of your summer!
3: Midnight Sun Festival – Fairbanks, Alaska
June 18th and 19th will be alive and full of action in Alaska’s Golden Heart City. Come enjoy warm weather, more than 30 live performances, 150 vendors, gold panning, and lots more. Kids will love it and everyone in your party will be smiling from ear to ear!
4: Euphoria Denali – Healy, Alaska
From June 23-24 in the little mountain town of Healy just north of “glitter gulch,” there will be a party happening that you won’t want to miss. Head to 49th State Brewing Co. and enjoy headlining artists, while drinking and eating to your hearts content. Tickets are $20 a day or $40 for a two-day pass. Bring your tent, camp under the midnight sun, and meet new friends from all around the world.
5: Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival – Moose Pass, Alaska
Visit Alaska’s scenic Kenai Peninsula and explore the charming community of Moose Pass on the longest day of the year. With endless daylight, June 17-18 means that Moose Pass visitors will be able to enjoy a bake sale, beer garden, local vendor booths, games for the kiddos, and even an auction and pie eating contest. Plus, you’ll have far less crowds than some of the larger cities.
6: Back To Bluegrass Festival – McGrath, Alaska
On June 17-18 everyone can enjoy this 2-day free event supporting the KSKO radio station. Tunes will be playing, delicious food will be available, and handmade crafts will be plentiful. Many local artists will take the stage and keep the summer solstice magic alive in this remote Alaska community.
7: Houston Music Festival – Houston, Alaska
Head down Zero Lake Road in Houston on June 23-25 to enjoy great entertainment and endless vendors. Local musicians will perform for three days at this family-friendly festival while food vendors serve up scrumptious bites of sweet and savory specialties. Single-day tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for youths, and free for children 12 and under. Three day discounted passes are available as well.
8: Forest Fair – Girdwood, Alaska
From July 7-9, visitors that flock to this free-spirited family-friendly event in Girdwood must abide by three simple rules: no dogs, no politics, and no religious orders. Enter for free and enjoy mouthwatering exotic foods, handcrafted items from local artists, and rockin’ entertainment from all around the 49th state. The commencement starts with the Forest Fair Parade at 10am on July 8th. If you want to enjoy every last second of the fun, there are several camping and lodging options nearby.
9: Bear Paw Festival – Eagle River, Alaska
Head to Eagle River from July 12-16 to enjoy this fun festival that is brimming with yummy food, vendors, and amusing events that the kids are sure to love. Learn more about the Bear Paw Grand Parade and all the fun events to follow, at bearpawfestival.org.
10: Copper River Salmon Jam – Cordova, Alaska
July 12-15 in Cordova is where you need to be this summer. Fest-goers come from far and wide to celebrate salmon + art with tasty foods, live music, running events, and education for kids and families. Enrich your lives and come support the local arts and cultural activities in Cordova.
11: Spectrum Music & Arts Festival – Willow, Alaska
From July 14-16, head to the Sandy River Amphitheater in Willow to enjoy a mesmerizing mix of music, art, sound, and light. This electronic music festival offers a fantasy world for audiences to lose themselves in. More info can be found at spectrummusicfestival.com.
12: Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival – Fairbanks, Alaska
Head to the Gold Heart City from July 16-30 to enjoy this awesome festival often described as the “summer camp for adults.” Enjoy tons of different workshops, performances, culinary arts, comedy improv., healing arts, and the sweet sounds of many musical varieties. More info at fsaf.org.
13: Salmonfest – Ninilchik, Alaska
From August 4-6, the tiny little drive-by town of Ninilchik on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula is totally transformed into an epic celebration of fish, love, and music. Head to the Kenai Peninsula fairgrounds where awesome live bands will keep you dancing and mingling from sunrise to sunset.
14: Rivergrass – Willow, Alaska
Head north of Anchorage to Willow from August 18-20 to enjoy Rivergrass, a festival centered on the sweet sounds of bluegrass music. The festival is located on the Sandy River near Willow, on Scot Dunnachie’s property. Tickets are $15 per day or $30 for the whole weekend.
15: Alyeska Blueberry Festival – Girdwood, Alaska
From August 19-20, head to the charming mountain town of Girdwood to binge on delicious blueberries while dancing to live music. Located on the grounds of Alyeska Resort, the Blueberry Fest offers fun runs, a pie-eating contest, endless blueberry treats and creations, and berry picking. Great American Taxi is this year’s headliner, so you don’t want to miss out! More info can be found at alyeskaresort.com.
16: Alaska State Fair – Palmer, Alaska
Make sure you carve out time to head to the fairgrounds between August 24th and September 4th. Come enjoy crazy-huge pumpkins and cabbages, scrumptious fair food, fun games, cute animals, and larger-than-life rides. Bring the family and camp for a few days, or make a date to enjoy one of the concert headliners including Papa Roach, The Doobie Brothers, Third Eye Blind, and more!
17: Seward Music & Arts Festival – Seward, Alaska
End your summer festival season in the charming coastal community of Seward. Come enjoy Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula with live music, dance performances, yummy local food, arts and crafts vendors, art projects, and lots of activities for the kiddos. It’ll be hard not to enjoy this year’s 2017 “Fish Tank” theme. The concert lineup is sure to keep you rockin’ from start to finish.
18: Alaska Day Festival – Sitka, Alaska
The Alaska Day Festival in the scenic southeast community of Sitka annually commemorates the Purchase Transfer of Alaska from Russian to the United States of America at Sitka on October 18, 1867. The festivities last from October 10th through the 18th. Events include Alaska Native dancing, kayak races, croquet games, historic sites, building tours, special guests, food vendors, and much more!
19: Mount Marathon Race & July 4th Festival – Seward, Alaska
The Kenai Peninsula’s most popular summer festival starts and ends in Seward, Alaska. The party starts with the July 4th fireworks, followed by the Mount Marathon race up the side of a 3,022-foot steep slope. Spectators enjoy watching brave racers tackle the difficult terrain before returning to the streets of downtown Seward, covered in mud with sweaty tears of victory. The food vendors, arts, music, and coastal shopping scene make this festival one of the most anticipated summer festival choices for locals and visitors alike.
Did we leave any of your summer festival favorites off the list? Be sure to let us know if we missed any of the goods!
Looking for more where that came from? Check out these 7 adrenaline-packed Alaska adventures that’ll amplify your summer. For another fun summer activity, try world-class brown bear viewing in Alaska’s Lake Clark National Park. Also, these 15 incredible Alaska lakes are guaranteed to demand your attention this summer.