Memorial Day weekend usually signals the unofficial start to the summer season in Alaska. For many, that means fishing, camping and plenty of time in the outdoors. But it also means attending festivals and fairs sprinkled throughout the 49th state.
From Kodiak to Chicken and points in between, here’s a guide to 2023 summer festivals happening across Alaska.
Crab Fest: Kodiak, May 25-29
The Kodiak Crab Fest and Parade includes five days of activities and events to celebrate the community in Kodiak. The parade will be on Saturday, May 27, but there will be live music, contests and activities like a chess tournament and a Lego building contest all day, every day from Thursday until Monday.
Great Alaska Craft Beer and Home Beer Festival: Haines, May 26-27 (sold out)
The Great Alaska Beerfest features beer from all over Alaska and the Yukon. Friday will be the home brew contest (registration required; not open to the public), and Saturday will start with the Slammin’ Salmon Fun Run, followed by the beer tasting. Don’t forget to bring cash for food.
Sitka Music Festival: Sitka, May 31-June 25
Are you a fan of chamber music and classical performances? There are plenty of concerts scheduled and guest artists appearing for the Sitka Music Festival’s 52nd season this year. Check out their website for tickets and more information.
Spenard Jazz Fest: Anchorage, June 1-4
The 16th annual Spenard Jazz Fest will be an opportunity to experience up-and-coming local artists, as well as see professionals from within and outside the jazz community. Tickets are available for purchase for individual concerts, but members get free and discounted concert admission. There will be a week of music and shows, a battle of the bands, shows at the Anchorage Museum on First Friday and a backyard jazz jam.
Trapper Creek Bluegrass Festival: Trapper Creek, June 1-4
The Trapper Creek Bluegrass Festival, hosted at Boot’s Bison Ranch, is a weekend of folk fun and music. Attendance will be limited to 500 people and three-day festival tickets are $150, or $200 for a four-day ticket, which includes camping.
Yakutat Tern Festival: Yakutat, June 1-4
The 12th annual Yakutat Tern Festival is a celebration of Yakutat, art and the one of the largest nesting colonies of Aleutian terns, Arctic terns and the rest of the huge variety of bird species that nest in or near Yakutat. There will be four days of family-friendly activities and events for kids and adults.
Homer Halibut Festival: Homer, June 1-30
There are plenty of events associated with this monthlong festival, including the town’s halibut derby as well as the Big ‘But Ball on June 3. There’s also a solstice festival that includes live music and deckhand skill games.
Sun Lit AK Music Festival: Fairbanks, June 3
The second edition of this music festival takes place at Growden Memorial Park, with Matt Hopper and the Roman Candles, Bikini Trill and Matt Lewis Band as some of the musical options. The festival goes from noon to midnight and will also have local vendors, beer and food.
3 Barons Renaissance Fair: Anchorage, June 3-4 and 10-11
The 3 Barons Renaissance Fair will be in Anchorage for two weekends this year, with plenty of crafts, activities, contests, food and much more. The first weekend is pirate themed and the second is fantasy themed. General admission tickets are $10.
Kenai River Festival: Soldotna, June 9-10
Soldotna Creek Park will be home to booths, crafts, swag and live music all weekend celebrating the Kenai River. Check out the Kids Education Zone, browse the Alaska Artisan Market, graze from food vendors and more.
Colony Days: Palmer, June 9-11
Colony Days is Palmer’s summer celebration for the whole family. There will be races and contests, carnivals, farmers markets and much more. Check out their website for your opportunity to win prizes in cornhole, or perhaps by baking with rhubarb.
Vaniversary: Anchorage, June 10
The 5th annual Vaniversary includes 28 bands playing live in a single day at Van’s Dive Bar, which is one of Anchorage’s busiest music venues the other 364 days of the year. There will be food, art and fun all starting at 3 p.m. and running until 2 a.m.
Fairbanks Summer Folk Fest: Fairbanks, June 10
A free, family-friendly event, this day will feature plenty of picking as well as food trucks and vendors. Ester Community Park hosts the fest, which will from from noon-10 p.m.
Last Frontier Theatre Conference: Valdez, June 10-17
Theater kids, unite: Prince William Sound College is hosting the annual Last Frontier Theatre Conference in Valdez. Featured artists include Kevin Armento and Joseph Biagini. Programs include the Valdez Theatre Fringe and the Monologue Workshop. Register on their website now.
Seldovia Summer Solstice Music Festival: Seldovia, June 15-18
The 22nd annual Seldovia Music Festival will feature music from genres as diverse as hip-hop, swing and honky tonk and even a Celtic harp. It’s a celebration of Alaska summer, the endless days of solstice and the beauty of Kachemak Bay.
Chickenstock: Chicken, June 16-17 (sold out)
Woodstock is out, Chickenstock is in! The 17th annual Chickenstock Music Festival will feature Alaska artists, local foods and craft brews, games, crafts and plenty more to fill the weekend. This music festival on the top of the world is sold out.
Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival: Moose Pass, June 16-18
Moose Pass will have vendors, music, art, food and fun for summer solstice. Blackwater Railroad, Wiley Post and The Jangle Bees are among the scheduled musical performers. Celebrate the sunlight in Moose Pass.
Sundown Solstice Festival: Anchorage, June 16-18
Sundown Solstice is in its second year, with an even bigger lineup and a relocation to Cuddy Family Midtown Park. Rae Sremmurd will headline the final day with Chromeo, Big Boi and Slander taking top billing spots as well. There will be bars curated by Moose’s Tooth and food trucks, carnival rides plus interactive art. Three-day general admission passes run from $149-$249.
Nikiski Days Family Fun in the Midnight Sun: Nikiski, June 17
The Family Fun in the Midnight Sun Festival is Nikiski’s annual solstice festival. The day starts at noon but there will also be a 5K fun run starting at 10 a.m. The event promises food, live music, games and fun for the entire family. Bikes and family prizes will also be given away.
End of the Road Ren Fair: Valdez, June 17
The first Renaissance festival in Valdez will be held at Barney Meyring Park and will include live performances and vendors from across the state with unique handmade items. The fair runs from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. and entry and shows are free.
Juneteenth Citywide Celebration: Anchorage, June 17-18
Juneteenth, or June 19, is a commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. Juneteenth will be recognized in Anchorage with a full weekend of events that includes a health fair, an education fair, a pageant, a parade and performers on the Delaney Park Strip.
Juneteenth: Fairbanks, June 17
The Fairbanks chapter of the NAACP is hosting a cultural celebration on June 17 for Juneteenth. The celebration will be from noon until 4 p.m. at Allridge Park in Fairbanks. Stop by for food, to browse vendors, and enjoy the various cultural presentations.
Chugach Fest: Anchorage, June 23-24
This two-day music event at Arctic Valley Ski Area is presented by Arctic Valley and the Anchorage Ski Club. The fest includes over a dozen of Alaska’s best bands like Hope Social Club, Hot Dish, Wiley Post and The Jangle Bees. There is camping available and beer vendors and food trucks are onsite.
Midnight Sun Festival: Fairbanks, June 24
Fairbanks knows how to celebrate solstice right. There will be 12 hours of entertainment for the thousands of people who pack downtown Fairbanks to enjoy the longest day of the year. Head north for live music, games and vendors galore.
Anchorage Pride Parade and Festival: Anchorage, June 24
The Anchorage Pride Parade returns to highlight Alaska’s LGBTQ+ community. It’s scheduled to start at 11:30 a.m. and circle around the Delaney Park Strip. Afterward the Celebrate Pride Festival will take place on the Park Strip, with local vendors, food trucks, musicians and drag artists. There are also many other events and gatherings associated with Anchorage Pride Month throughout June.
Scottish Highland Games: Palmer, June 24-25
The Alaska Scottish Highland Games are a celebration of Scottish heritage and traditions. Stop by the Alaska State Fairgrounds to compete in the games or to spectate. There will also be traditional games, music and, of course, food. Discounted advance tickets are available now.
Aloha in Alaska Music Festival: Anchorage, June 25
Hawaiian and Island Reggae music will fill the air with legendary Hawaiian Slack Key artist Ledward Kaapana, the falsetto voices of Liam Moleta and Kekoa Kane, Alaska’s very own Island Reggae band H3 and much more. Held at Lei’s Poke Stop, tickets for the one-day festival start at $35.
Kachemak Bay Highland Games: Homer, July 1
The Scottish Highland Games in Palmer will be followed by the Kachemak Bay Highland Games in Homer, just in case you can’t get your fill. Not only will there be traditional games and contests, but there will also be a kilted 5K race and a reading of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” Held at Karen Hornaday Park, the event will have vendors, food trucks and lots of Scottish pride. Tickets are $10 each day.
Althing Heathen Festival: Fairbanks, July 1
The second annual edition of this festival features the heathen market, a full day of music and many witchy workshops. The fest is free and held at the Ester Community Park.
Homer Peony Celebration: Homer, July 1-30
Known as “The City of Peonies,” Homer has 25 peony farms with great growing conditions. Outside of touring the farms there are plenty of other activities and events, hosted by local businesses and organizations.
Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival: Fairbanks, July 2-28
Throughout much of July, there will be more than 200 workshops and events in Fairbanks for the Summer Arts Festival. Registration is now open. The prefestival chorus and vocal coaching start July 2 and run until July 15. Then the festival gets going in earnest on July 17 with workshops on everything from instrumental performance to dancing, painting and cooking.
Fourth of July and Mount Marathon: Seward, July 3-4
There might not be a better Alaska summer duo than the town of Seward and the Fourth of July. Seward will be full of high spirits, festival booths, fireworks and slightly out-of-their-mind athletes heading into the Fourth, with parades on land and on the water. Mount Marathon, the annual footrace up and back down the steep and rocky slopes, will take place Tuesday, July 4.
Anchorage Chamber Music Festival: Anchorage, July 5-15
With a mix of house concerts and public performances, the 11th season features not only professional musicians from all over the world performing, but a week-long course for aspiring young chamber musicians.
Forest Fair: Girdwood, July 7-9
The annual Forest Fair in Girdwood is all about local art and artists, hand-crafted and homemade goods, and the gathering of the community of Girdwood. Parking is limited, so carpooling is encouraged, and there will be a shuttle going to and from Anchorage for $5 each way. There’s no admission fee, no dogs, no politics and no religious orders. Public camping is prohibited during the Forest Fair.
Rock’n the Ranch at the RustyRavin: Kenai, July 7-8
This music festival, headlined by local bands like Blackwater Railroad Company, Danger Money and Tune Weavers, is a great place to check out Alaska talent, eat great food and hang out. There will be vendors and booths, a beer garden and plenty of space to kick back, relax and enjoy the music.
Love My Pet Fest: Anchorage, July 8
This event is free to the public and features all types of products and services related to owning a pet. This inaugural festival at the Arctic Rec Center will have everything for your furry friend.
Alaska Yoga Fest: Fairbanks, July 8
This festival has moved around the state and is being hosted in Fairbanks this summer. There are yoga classes every hour on the hour and will be held outside rain or shine. Early bird tickets are $50 for one and $75 for two.
Bear Paw Festival: Chugiak-Eagle River, July 12-16
The Bear Paw Festival is a great way for the Chugiak and Eagle River community to come together and celebrate summer. There’s always plenty of food and merchandise to browse, and there will be carnival rides Thursday through Sunday. The festival also features a raffle to win two Alaska Airlines tickets plus unique events like the Human Foosball Tournament and Slippery Salmon Olympics.
Copper River Salmon Jam: Cordova, July 14-15
The Copper River Salmon Jam will have music raising money for the arts in Cordova, Salmon Runs to get you moving, kids activities and, of course, salmon cooked every which way. Check out the Salmon Jam to support the community in Cordova in whichever way best suits you.
Golden Days: Fairbanks, July 15
The celebration of the founding of Fairbanks dates back to 1952 and touts events for all ages. Included in the 2023 edition is a parade that organizers bill as the biggest in Alaska, a street fair and a rubber ducky race along the Chena River.
Back to Bluegrass Festival: McGrath, July 22-23
This annual festival supports KSKO, the local radio station. This year’s festival features Nothin’ But Trouble, Gold Dust Rising, Flintlock Special and the Glacier Hoppers.
Bearfest: Wrangell, July 26-30
The Alaska Bearfest in Wrangell is dedicated to ... you guessed it — bears! This festival includes cultural events, art workshops, a golf tournament, food and games, plus a marathon, half-marathon and 5K on July 30. The night before the race, enjoy a pasta dinner to load up on carbs, followed by live music.
Southeast Alaska State Fair: Haines, July 27-30
The fair has loads of showcases, contests and competitions, from horseshoes to a parade and a wearable art review. Entertainment options include Gordie Tentrees, Boomtown Saits, The Lack Family, Lovely Colours and Avery Wolves.
Gold Rush Days: Valdez, Aug. 2-6
The Gold Rush Days celebration in Valdez is a way to honor the past, present and future of the town. There will be vendors and fundraising, and perhaps more importantly, rides on the Hoosegow, Gold Rush Days’ traveling prison cart. Check the website for more information as the festival date approaches.
Salmonfest: Ninilchik, Aug. 4-6
Salmonfest is a three-day annual music festival held in Ninilchik, centered around fish, love, and music. There will be concerts, a smoked salmon super bowl, activities and games for the whole family. Headliners include Old Crow Medicine Show, Sierra Ferrell and Leftover Salmon. Early-bird passes start at $179 for teens and seniors and $189 for adults. Three-day passes for kids 6-12 are $35.
Blueberry Arts Festival: Ketchikan, Aug. 4-6
The Ketchikan Blueberry Arts Festival is an annual celebration of arts that has been taking place in Ketchikan since 1975. The festival kicks off with the Pet and Doll Parade and also features booths, live music and other events taking place all over town. Other highlights include the Handmade Human Powered Blueberry Boat Race and the Richard Brautigan, Dick Whitaker and Lillian Ference Memorial Trout Fishing in America Poetry Slam and Flounder Free Form Poetry Contest.
Kenai Peninsula Fair: Ninilchik, Aug. 11-13
The weekend includes music, exhibits, vendors and much more at the “Biggest Little Fair in Alaska.” The fair runs from noon-8 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on Saturday and noon-5 p.m. on Sunday.
Galway Days Irish Festival: Anchorage, Aug. 12
The Galway Days Irish Festival is a free event in downtown Anchorage at Town Square Park featuring live Irish music all day, as well as Irish dancers and buskers throughout the park. Tents and booths include a children’s activity tent, lectures and workshops on Irish culture and history, a genealogy tent, vendors, food, a bake sale and more.
Ester Fest: Fairbanks, Aug. 12
The 6th annual Ester Fest is a family-friendly fundraiser to help raise revenue for maintenance and improvement of the Ester Community Park. Tim Easton joins Alaska musicians on the bill and there will be plenty of concessions. Tickets are $10.
Alaska Greek Festival: Anchorage, Aug. 18-20
The Alaska Greek Festival delivers some of the state’s most delicious Greek food — including homemade gyros, souvlaki and pastries — for just one weekend every year. The festival also includes a bookstore with imported Mediterranean and Orthodox items, plus dancing and live music from a Greek folk band.
Alaska State Fair: Palmer, Aug. 18-Sept. 4
The Alaska State Fair is an annual tradition featuring concerts, rides, games, vendors and food. Featured artists include Flogging Molly, Megadeth, Yung Gravy, Noah Cyrus, Noah Kahan and more. Fairgoers can also check out contests and exhibits in art, photography, crafts, crops, flowers and livestock. Tickets available now.
Fairbanks Fungi Fest: Fairbanks, Aug. 27
The Interior celebrates fungi as well with this single-day gathering. The fungus fanatics are already active this summer with a Murphy Dome lichen walk in June.
Fungus Fair: Girdwood, Sept. 2-3
The annual Girdwood Fungus Fair will be back this year with opportunities for education and appreciation of Alaska’s fungi and forests. More information will be available in July.
Fungus Festival: Cordova, Sept. 8-10
Cordova’s 17th annual Fungus Festival will be all about foraging and discovering the hidden treasures of the earth. There will be educational opportunities, workshops, kids activities and more. More information will be available closer to the event.
Sacred Acre: Ninilchik, Sept. 8-10
In its second year, this electronic music festival will feature headliners Of The Trees, Boogie T and Daily Bread. The festival also an environmental focus with a goal of limiting bottom trawling. Various ticketing options are available, including VIP with special add-ons.
Harvest Moon Local Food Festival: Soldotna, Sept. 16
The Kenai Peninsula’s biggest one-day farmers market and local food celebration. The festival spotlights local Alaskans who grow, harvest and produce all sorts of Alaska Grown and Made in Alaska food and wellness products. It includes vendors, music and family-friendly activities.
Did we miss your favorite Alaskan fair or festival? Email the information to Entertainment and Sports Editor Chris Bieri at email@example.com, and we may add it to this list.