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Celebrating summer solstice: Here are parties and events around Alaska

  • Author: Yoshina Okamoto
  • Updated: June 21
  • Published June 20

Hikers take in the sunset at about 11:30 p.m. on the summer solstice, Friday, June 20, 2008. Hiking Flattop is a solstice tradition for many in Anchorage. (Marc Lester / ADN)

It's that time, Alaskans, when the Earth's tilt is in our favor and the state is bathed in daylight well into the wee hours. Thursday, June 21, is summer solstice — the official start of summer and the longest day of the year. In Anchorage, the sun will rise at 4:20 a.m. and set at 11:42 p.m., according to the U.S. Naval Observatory. The farther north you go, of course, the longer the stretch of daylight gets — Fairbanksans will enjoy almost 22 hours of daylight and the northernmost city in the U.S., Utqiaġvik, hasn't seen the sun set in weeks.

After enduring the equally extreme dark winter months, it's no wonder that Alaskans embrace solstice as an unofficial state holiday, with events starting Thursday and continuing through the weekend. Here are some highlights, organized by day.

THURSDAY

49 State Brewing block party and brewfest

49th State Brewing Co. is hosting a party filled to the brim with music, food, beer and more. On Thursday at 7 p.m., head to downtown Anchorage for an outdoor concert (21 and over) with electronic dance music band Cut/Copy, Brooklyn's Small Black, DJ Livingston and local favorites Blackwater Railroad Company. General admission is $40.

Cut/Copy will then head to Denali for the Solstice Brewfest in Healy on Friday,  with special guests Blackwater Railroad and Bandcat. The festival will continue Saturday with a lineup that includes Small Black, the Jephries and Bandcat. Doors open at 6 p.m. both days, 21 and over. Day passes range from about $20-$30 — see showdownalaska.com for details.

The longest day of the year is full of energy. Join us at the museum for solar science, hands-on activities, yoga and music. Half-price museum admission for indoor activities.

Sun salutations and a dance party at Anchorage Museum

Celebrate the sun and stretch your yoga practice with 108 sun salutations on the Anchorage Museum lawn. You can jump in at any time, bring your own mat. 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday. Free.

From 7 p.m.-10 p.m. Thursday, DJ Cross will be on hand to for a dance party on the lawn – no shoes required. Free (if it rains, yoga and the dance party will move indoors and be included with half-price admission).

Skydiving boogie

Enjoy the solstice from a different view. The Alaska Skydive Center is bringing you a bevy of different skydiving jumps to try: glacier jumps, helicopter jumps and a midnight solstice jump. $600 includes 13 jump tickets. Every day through Sunday, Alaska Skydive Center, 820 E. Aircraft Road, Suite 100. (solsticeboogie.com)

Ski Jump-A-Thon

Enjoy the midnight sun outdoors with the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage. The ski jumps will be open all night long for this fundraiser, with a barbecue, campout, s'mores and breakfast. Bring your camping gear and spend the night. 6 p.m.-6 a.m. Thursday-Friday, Karl Eid Ski Jump Complex, 7015 Abbott Road. (Search "Midnight Sun Jump-a-Thon" on Facebook)

Solstice party at Inlet Towers

If you're looking for a laid-back block party in Anchorage, make your way to the Inlet Towers. For the fourth year in a row, they're bringing brews and spirits, lawn games and barbecue courtesy of their onsite restaurant, the PubHouse. 4 -10 p.m. Thursday, 1020 W. 12th Ave. (Search "4th Annual Summer Solstice Block Party" on Facebook)

Ecstatic dance party

Shimmy and shake the night away with The Church of Love at their all-ages, sober dance party. Come for a safe space to dance "without talking, drinking or the nightclub vibe." Organizers add that this event is "all about getting great exercise, freeing your mind and body, and connecting with yourself and others in vibrant health." 6:15-8 p.m. Thursday, Church of Love Spenard, 3502 Spenard Road. (Search "Summer Solstice Ecstatic Dance w/ DJ MUSE/ Heidi Weiland" on Facebook)

Settlers Bay Solstice 5k

Run the greens and enjoy live music, ice cream and the views of this sprawling golf course in Wasilla. The event benefits the Great Land Trust, an organization whose mission is to conserve and steward local lands and waterways. $15 for kids, $45 for adults. 7-11 p.m. Thursday, Settlers Bay Golf Course. (runsignup.com)

Solstice at the top of Flattop

Not really an organized event but certainly a longstanding Anchorage tradition, hiking Flattop and admiring the city from the peak is a solstice ritual for many. If you haven't tried it yet, this may be your year.

Point Woronzof solstice celebration

Take in the longest day of the year at one of Anchorage's most beloved sunset-watching destinations: Point Woronzof. Kids are welcome to tag along as you enjoy a fire on the beach, kite-flying and more. 9 p.m. Thursday, Point Woronzof, 9700 Point Woronzof Road. (Search "Summer Solstice Celebration" on Facebook)

Lorenzo Marqueda hits a ramp on a skateboard street course during the Downtown Summer Solstice Festival on June 21, 2014. (Marc Lester / ADN)

Baseball under the midnight sun

In Fairbanks, the annual Midnight Sun game — the granddaddy of all solstice traditions in Alaska at 113 years old — is scheduled to start at 10 p.m. Thursday, and will cap 24 straight hours of baseball that begins at midnight Wednesday with an American Legion game. Growden Memorial Park, on Wilbur Street in Fairbanks.

FRIDAY

Solstice soirée and dance camp

Dance your way into the longest day of the year with The Hive. On Friday, enjoy dinner and dancing with your partner, dance instructors and event professionals. On Saturday, learn the newest ballroom, rhythm and club moves with classes offered every hour from noon to 6 p.m. Lunch is included. $20 on Friday and $30 on Saturday. 6:30 p.m. Friday, noon Saturday, The Castle on O'Malley, 1520 O'Malley Road. (facebook.com/TheHiveAK)

Tilted Solstice

If you're looking to learn more about the science behind the solstice, head to the UAA Planetarium for Tilted Solstice, a show diving into the history, mythology and astronomy behind the shortest and longest days of the year. 6:30 and 8 p.m. Friday, UAA Planetarium, 3101 Science Circle. (uaatix.universitytickets.com)

SATURDAY

Downtown Anchorage solstice festival

Come one, come all to Anchorage's Downtown Summer Solstice Festival. Besides the normal festival fare (live music, food trucks, beer gardens, a vendor fair) this eight-block party includes a petting zoo, Hero Games, a deadlift competition, a three-on-three basketball tournament and a dance-off. Noon-6 p.m. Saturday, downtown Anchorage. (anchoragedowntown.org)

The Mayor's Midnight Sun Marathon & Half Marathon

On Saturday morning, runners will chase the sun in one of several simultaneous races, including the Midnight Sun Marathon, Alaska Half-Marathon and the relay-style Buddy Half Marathon. Races will finish at the Delaney Park Strip in downtown Anchorage. (mayorsmarathon.com)

Summer Solstice Dance Party

Make use of the midnight sun at this late-night shindig. Williwaw and Midnight Sun Brewing Co. are teaming up with DJ Joe Brady to bring you a dance party featuring hits of summers past and present. 21 and over. 9:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Saturday, Williwaw Social, 609 F St. (Search "Summer Solstice Dance Party at Williwaw Social" on Facebook)

SUNDAY

Midnight Sun Festival

The Midnight Sun Festival is a free festival that dominates downtown Fairbanks. Expect fun for the whole family, as this year's fest promises a crowd of over 30,000 people, 200 food and craft booths and 45 live performances from dance groups, traveling artists and local talent. Noon to 11:30 p.m. Sunday, downtown Fairbanks. (downtownfairbanks.com)

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