Dozens of singers, rappers, DJs and bands drew thousand of music fans to Cuddy Park in Midtown Anchorage for the Sundown Solstice Music Festival over the weekend. The event, which began Friday and concludes Sunday night, has grown significantly in its second year, according to Hellen Fleming, co-owner of Showdown Alaska, which produced and promoted it.
“It’s triple,” Fleming said, comparing it to the inaugural Sundown Festival held on the streets of downtown Anchorage in 2022. “It’s triple the size in venue. It’s triple the size of artists. It’s triple the size of production crew, labor, vendors, everything.”
This year’s festival features more than 45 national artists, up from 15 last time, Fleming said. Ticket sales have grown too, she said, up to about 15,000 across three days.
The new venue is one reason the festival has grown, accommodating four performance stages, food trucks, vendors, artists and a few carnival rides. Fans can choose to crowd close to the stage or spread out and watch from the lawn. Adult beverage sales, separated by fencing and security from the broader grounds, means a better experience for underage concertgoers too, Fleming said.
“I think we found our spot,” she said.
Artists have remarked on the mountain backdrop as well as the enthusiasm of the fans, Fleming said. The mostly-great summer weather this weekend surely helped lift moods after a chilly start to summer. Fleming points to the uniqueness of a big festival in Anchorage as a big factor in the excitement.
“We don’t get a lot of tours, we don’t get a lot of shows,” she said. “There isn’t a show every night.”
Both new and veteran hip-hop artists and DJs took top billing on the first two nights of the festival. Rappers Big Boi, one half of the influential Outkast duo, and Freddie Gibbs drew raucous responses on neighboring stages Saturday night. Meanwhile, electronic dance music artists such as Ship Wrek and Mark Farina filled a dome-shaped venue with partiers as the sun went down. Rae Sremmurd is scheduled to perform Sunday evening.
Fleming said the festival will return next summer, though not on solstice weekend, one in which there are several other big events in Anchorage, including Juneteenth and Pride Month celebrations. Fleming said the event will be held earlier in June, in part so that people wouldn’t have to choose between community events.