This weekend marks summer solstice, when Alaskans from north to south stay up late, go to parties, and celebrate ouf famous “midnight sun.” This year, all this sun has caused a number of problems around the state, so in some ways solstice feels a little off. I woke up this morning to sheets of rain falling upon our east Anchorage home, though, and while I’d like a bit of sunshine on this the longest sunshine-y day, the clouds and cool temperatures feel just right. Tomorrow is the official solstice, June 21, but the weekend is full of family activities for everyone.
Two of Alaska’s bigger communities are kicking into high gear today for summer solstice activities, so if you’re looking for a bit of family fun (or education) to welcome the official first day of summer, take note. I talked up most of these on the June segment for KTVA 11 Daybreak, too, which always airs the first Tuesday of each month. #TravelTuesday, of course!
The Anchorage Downtown Partnership is hosting a Summer Solstice Festival until 6 p.m. tonight on 4th Avenue between C and L streets. Have you checked out that awesome sandbox yet? How about the antique cars? Get on down there, then grab a spot above the Alaska Railroad depot for the GCI Centennial Solstice Concert, featuring Lonestar. They’ll be playing the tunes between 6-10 p.m. and everyone is welcome! FREE.
The Anchorage Museum is open until 6 p.m., too, and today is a great day to visit their Imaginarium Discovery Center with the kids. Who knows, you may come away with a whole new understanding about science and technology! Psst: Schedule a time to come back and visit the Thomas Planetarium for some out of this world, star-studded information. It’s AWE-some! Admission prices vary, check website.
Many people like to hike steep Flattop mountain on summer solstice eve, gazing upon the city, Cook Inlet, and a sun that seems to hang around, and around, and around before finally setting in the…northwest (I learned that from the planetarium guys). If a hike is in your immediate future, remember to dress in layers (it’s chilly up there), pack some midnight snacks, and bring the camera to record this fun activity, and rite of passage for many Alaskans. Parking is $5 unless you have a State Parks Pass.
The Downtown Fairbanks Association is pulling out all the stops for their annual Midnight Sun Festival, held from noon-12 a.m. all along the riverside area of downtown. Food, music, an expanded kids area, and that famous Interior sunlight will be on tap. Festival is FREE.
If you’ve still got energy after all that, get tickets to the famous Fairbanks Gold Panners Midnight Sun Baseball Classic, the only night ball game played without the benefit of artificial lights. It’s wacky good fun, this game, with lots of kid-friendly activities to keep everyone busy and happy way past their bedtimes. Ticket prices vary.
Creamer’s Field off College Road in Fairbanks is also a wonderful place to take a late-night stroll among the boreal forest and grasslands of this migratory bird refuge. If a quiet, reflective solstice is what you desire, this is the place. FREE.
Enjoy the light, and embrace this upcoming season of summer.