Solstice season in Alaska means extended sunlight throughout the state, and a full 24 hours of daylight near and north of the Arctic Circle. Utqiagvik (commonly known by its former name, Barrow), the northernmost city in the United States, sees the sun for more than 80 straight days at the height of summer.
Alaska communities commemorate peak daylight with a variety of annual events that range from family-friendly festivals to late-night dance parties to century-old sporting events that take place under bright northern skies. Here are a few ways to celebrate.
The six-day Solstice Boogie caters to adrenaline junkies with an adventurous roster of skydiving opportunities (including a midnight summer solstice jump) and related activities from June 19 to 24.
Organized by Palmer's Alaska Skydive Center, the event includes optional helicopter jumps, sightseeing flights and a glacier jump. When the weather permits, participants skydive above the 25-mile long Knik Glacier and enjoy sweeping views of the landscape before touching down nearby.
Waterfall Resort welcomes summer guests with three- to five-day guided fishing trips held the week of the solstice. Located on Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska's 1,100-island Alexander archipelago, the property is accessible only by air or sea.
Waterfall Resort offers guided fishing excursions during the week of the solstice. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Waterfall Resort
All-inclusive packages available during the property's Summer Solstice Days, June 20 to 23, feature full-service sport fishing outings on a 25-foot heated cabin cruiser that accommodates up to four guests, plus use of rods, reels, all-weather gear and additional equipment.
Rates also bundle fish processing, vacuum packing and flash freezing, along with on-site Alaska Airlines check-in services on departure day. Roundtrip floatplane transportation from Ketchikan is included in the all-inclusive price, as are overnight lodging, meals, wine with dinner, WiFi and more.
The small Kenai Peninsula town of Moose Pass celebrates the season's extended sunlight during the Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival. Dating back to 1978, the popular gathering raises funds for community events and scholarships available through the volunteer-run Moose Pass Sportsmen's Club.
This year's family-friendly celebration, which takes place on June 16 and 17, includes live music, food booths, a bake sale, carnival games and a beer garden. A raffle and auction are also on the schedule.
Downtown Fairbanks hosts this year's Midnight Sun Festival, an annual 12-hour street fair, on June 24. Expect performances by more than 30 musicians plus dancing, children's games, gold panning, food vendors and crafts from Alaska purveyors.
Alaska's expansive Tanana Valley receives 24 hours of sunlight on the summer solstice, and the city of Fairbanks capitalizes on that phenomenon during the annual Midnight Sun Baseball Game. A tradition for 113 years, the game kicks off around 10 p.m. on June 21 and continues for approximately three hours -- with no artificial lights needed. Play takes place on a field that's located 150 miles south of the Arctic Circle, and competitors pause around midnight to sing the state song, "Alaska's Flag."
Brews and Music
The two 49th State Brewing Co. locations will team up to host this year's lively Solstice Brewfest, June 21 to 23. Events open on Thursday evening at the 3rd Avenue brewpub in Anchorage, where the bands Cut Copy, Small Black and Blackwater Railroad will headline the Solstice Block Party. Festivities move north to Healy on Friday and Saturday, when The Jephries and Bandcat join the band lineup and late-night dance party. In addition to enjoying live music under the midnight sun, ticketholders can also sample food and 49th State's house brews.