Slush Cup Contestants
This photo is used under a Creative Commons license by Frank Kovalchek.
If you’re planning a trip north and are looking for an experience slightly off the beaten path, Alaska’s spring festivals are a great way to experience the area and its people in a fun and unique way. Rain, shine or snow, Alaskans embrace every opportunity to play in the great outdoors, especially as the sun begins to shine a bit longer and warmer in spring months. Below is an introduction to some of Alaska’s more eclectic events sure to put the seal of success on any spring visit to the state.
Alaska Folk Festival – This week (April 7-13) musicians and music lovers are gathering in Juneau for the 40th Annual Alaska Folk Festival. People from around the world come to the state’s capital city to experience Alaska’s oldest and largest music festival. With no auditions for performers, a wide variety of musicians will take the stage with the hopes of winning over festivalgoers. Dances, parties and bars fill the quaint coastal community of Juneau with people jamming late into the night. The event is supported completely by donations and volunteers with only one paid act, this year the talented Bonsoir, Catin.
Arctic Man Classic – Hundreds of adventure seekers will hook up their snowmobiles and head to Interior Alaska for the Arctic Man Classic, also slated for April 7-13. Arctic Man is an intense downhill ski and snowmobile race at Summit Lake (not to be confused with Summit Lake on the Kenai Peninsula). Using the combination of the two sports, ski racers drop 1,700 feet to the bottom of a narrow canyon where their snowmobiling partner will meet up with a towrope to take them to the top of the next 1,200-foot drop to the finish line. The race is open to 60 pairs of athletes, but thousands of people come to camp, watch the race and celebrate the transition of winter to spring.
Girdwood Spring Carnival – Planning a stay at the Westmark Anchorage Hotel? The Girdwood Spring Carnival takes place April 11-13 in Alaska’s best-known ski town, a gorgeously scenic 45-minute trip south of the city along the Seward Highway. The highlight of this weekend-long event in Girdwood is the Annual Taco Bell Slush Cup ski and snowboarding competition. Each year, a man-made, 90-foot pond is created at the bottom of Mount Alyeska. Competitors dress up in unique costumes and soar down the mountain and over the pond in hopes of flying over the freezing waters unscathed. Hundreds of people come out to the slopes to see the crazy costumes and watch the competitors skip across the water or sink in the slush.