In my opinion, Alaska winter fun really kicks in mid-February and remains good all through March. I say this a veteran of many winters in the Anchorage and greater Matanuska-Susitna Valley. In mid-February the days are getting longer so one can experience a decently long day in the outdoors. There are more occasions of sun and blue sky after what are normally gray, drab, winter skies in December and January. During this time there are fun things happening every week! Below are some of the larger annual spring events Alaskans look forward to.
The Alaska Fur Rendezvous, also known as Fur Rondy, is an annual winter festival (like a fair spread out around the town) that takes place in Anchorage. It is a 10-day event that occurs in late February and early March. This year, 2023, there are daily events from February 23rd through March 5th. The “Rondy” is a unique annual event held since 1935.
The festival was originally started to celebrate Alaska’s fur trade and the role it played in the state’s history and economy. Today, the Fur Rondy has grown into a large event that includes a variety of activities such as snowshoe softball, a frostbite footrace, sled dog races, a fur auction where Alaska fur trappers bring their furs to sell, and the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race. There are also events such as a carnival, parade, and an ice sculpture contest!
A popular event for locals and tourists alike, the Alaska Fur Rendezvous is an important cultural event for the city of Anchorage and Alaska as a whole. An exciting and unique event that draws visitors from around the world, Rondy creates a festive atmosphere and offers a chance to experience the unique Alaskan winter culture, and also provides entertainment and outdoor activities for all ages.
The Iron Dog Race is done on snow machines, which locals often call sleds. This race is held annually in Alaska just before the Iditarod Sled Dog Race. It is known as the “World’s Longest, Toughest Snowmobile Race” and covers over 2,000 miles of Alaska’s most rugged terrain. The race usually starts on the first Saturday of February and takes racers from Anchorage to Nome and then back to Fairbanks.
The race is a test of endurance, skill, and teamwork as teams of two traverse some of Alaska’s most challenging winter landscapes, including mountains, frozen rivers, and tundra. Along the way, racers must contend with harsh conditions, like extreme cold, high winds, and snowstorms.
The Iron Dog Race began in 1984 and has since become a beloved event in Alaska, drawing participants and spectators from around the world. The race has been credited with helping to promote snowmachining as a sport and boost tourism in Alaska.
The Iditabike is a long-distance bicycle race. It is considered one of the toughest winter bike races in the world, covering more than 1,000 miles of remote Alaskan wilderness! The race follows the historic Iditarod Trail, which was once used by dog mushers to transport supplies to remote Alaskan communities during the winter. The race typically starts on Knik Lake, just outside of Anchorage, and ends in Nome.
Participants in the Iditabike must be self-sufficient and carry all their food, clothing, and other gear with them. They face extreme temperatures, high winds, and deep snow, making the race a true test of endurance and survival skills. The race can take anywhere from a few days to over a week to complete depending on the conditions and the skill level of the riders.
The Iditabike was first held in 1987 and has since become a popular event among adventurous cyclists looking for a unique challenge. The race has inspired other winter bike races around the world and has helped to popularize fat-tire bikes, which are specially designed for riding in snow and other challenging winter conditions.
These are just a few of the major uniquely Alaskan sporting events to watch early in the year. Most Alaskan’s look forward to getting outside and participate in various outdoor activities such as fat tire biking, hiking, ice fishing, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, back country skiing (telemark), and ice climbing.
If you’ve got the winter blues or just need a change of pace, check out one of these special Alaskan events. Each one is sure to bring a smile to your face and a little sunshine into these long winter months.