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Alaska Life

With winter solstice, the shortest days of 2017 have arrived

  • Author: Anchorage Daily News
  • Updated: December 20, 2017
  • Published December 20, 2017

The darkest days of winter are upon us, which means it's time to celebrate the slow return of the sun. Winter solstice, on Dec. 21 this year, ushers the light back in, as the days begin to grow longer.

Alaska communities experience large variances of daylight, depending on location. They range from 7 hours and 46 minutes in Adak, Alaska's southernmost city, to the most extreme, in Utqiaġvik, where the sun set Nov. 22 and will not rise again until late January.

In Fairbanks, the sun rises at 10:58 a.m. and sets at 2:41 p.m., a total of 3 hours and 43 minutes of sunlight.

In Anchorage, the sun rises at 10:14 a.m. and sets at 3:42 p.m., leaving Alaska's largest city with 5 hours and 28 minutes of sunlight on winter solstice.

Want to enjoy the shortest days of winter? Here are some winter solstice events around Anchorage on Dec. 21:

Skate to music at Cuddy Park

Bring your skates and glide around the oval, join a walking lights parade or take a sleigh ride at Cuddy Family Midtown Park. There will be music, hot chocolate and fat tire bikes to test out, and Yeti Dogs will be on site. 5-8 p.m. Thursday. Free. (201 E. 40th Ave.; search "Winter Solstice Festival" on Facebook for details)

Labyrinth walk at Cheney Lake

Take a moment to slow down and experience the stillness of solstice by walking a seven circuit labyrinth carved in the snow on top of the north end of Cheney Lake. You can bring a lantern if you like or replacement tea lights to leave along the path. 6:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday. (See Facebook for details)

Sun salutations

For some, the practice of doing 108 sun salutations is a solstice tradition. At Uptown Athletics on Dimond, you can participate with DJ Spencer Lee providing the music. Snow Cap Screen Printing will be printing T-shirts on site. 6:30-8 p.m. $20 and free for members. 135 W. Dimond Blvd. (; 907-903-6038)

Friday, the day after solstice, Anchorage Yoga will host a special two-hour practice "embracing the darkness and celebrating the return of the light." There's a suggested $20 donation with all proceeds benefiting Clare House. 6-8 p.m. Friday at Chugach Optional Elementary School. (1205 E St.;

A walk in the woods

Light & Shadow Seminary is leading a lantern walk through the woods of Abbott Community Park for their annual solstice tree decorating event. Bring edible, all-natural decorations to place on the tree, warm drinks to share and music or a song you would like to sing. Children and pets welcome. Be sure to dress for the weather. Participants will meet in the parking lot at 6:15 p.m. and hit the trail by 6:30 p.m. 8101 Elmore Road. (See Facebook for details)

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Anchorage would have 5 hours and 56 minutes of daylight on the winter solstice. The city will see 5 hours and 28 minutes of daylight.

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