Posted in Westmark News

Image courtesy of Graur Codrin /

We want to let you in on a little secret: We love winter! Aside from it being the season to pull out our favorite warm coats and uncover our skis and snowshoes, it’s also time for a slew of events as fun and flashy as the northern lights. These festivities will warm up anyone’s soul, even on the coldest of days. All around Alaska and the Yukon, communities gather to celebrate winter, holidays and the New Year.

While some species, humans included, spend dark winter days hibernating in their dens, at Westmark Hotels we put on our long underwear; don our gloves, hats and scarves; and brave the chilly weather to celebrate with fireworks, ice art, music, lip-smacking hot beverages and a merry good time with family and friends.

Here are three events that, paired with a stay at one of our Westmark Hotels, make for a perfect, short winter getaway for you and your loved ones.

Anchorage: News Year’s Eve Fire and Ice Show

Fireworks in Alaska are not to be taken for granted. It’s only about half the year that a fireworks display can be conducted, with summer daylight stretching until the wee hours of the night. That’s why for Anchorage’s New Year’s celebration the fireworks organizers always take it up a notch.

Like every year, on Dec. 31, 2012, Anchorage’s Town Square will turn into a musical ice skating rink, with beautifully lit ice sculptures scattered around. Street performers, fire dancers and a free concert will turn the square and the nearby downtown streets into a bustling and fun block party suitable for all ages. This year’s theme celebrates everything 80s, so put on your dancing winter boots, curl your bangs and dig out your leg warmers. Celebrations begin at 5 p.m. with a children’s ice skating party, followed by a concert from 80 Degrees, a cover band performing our favorite tunes from the 1980s. Bring your camera, and make sure to check out the 80s cartoons-themed ice sculptures and light show after the concert.

For more information about this event, visit the Anchorage New Year’s Eve Fire and Ice Show event page.

Fairbanks: 2012 Winter Solstice Festival

Winter solstice may be the darkest day of the year and the official first day of winter, but for optimists like us it also marks the beginning of longer days and the journey to warmer temperatures. This year, solstice conveniently falls on a Friday so book your room for the night of Dec. 20 at the Westmark Fairbanks Hotel & Conference Center, located right downtown within the distance of all the celebrations.

Events kick off with a magnificent display of fireworks on the Chena River; stand anywhere downtown, and you will not miss them. The fun continues with live music in different venues and a photo opportunity with Cocoa the reindeer at Arctic Traveler’s Gift Shop. Head on over to the Fairbanks Community Museum and have your photo taken with the one and only Mrs. Claus, visiting from the North Pole.

We would be remiss if we didn’t recommend the world famous northern lights (Aurora Borealis). Fairbanks is the top location to view these magnificent and out-of this-world lights. September through March is the best time to view the splendor of the northern lights, so be sure to include this must-see display in your winter vacation.

For more information on this event, and other events going on in Fairbanks this winter, visit the Fairbanks, Alaska event page.

Whitehorse: 2013 Frostbite Music Festival

What better way to warm up in the middle of a Yukon winter than jiving to the tunes of an up-and-coming band in a roomful of like-minded music enthusiasts? For the past 33 years, the Frostbite Music Society has brought Whitehorse residents and visitors Canada’s premier winter music festival. With a mission of developing Yukon musicians and creating programming that appeals to the country’s diverse communities, Frostbite Music Festival is likely one of the most unique festival experience you will encounter. The 2013 festival takes place February 15-17 and features a mix of local and national performers Sound like fun?

To read more about the festival and see the full artist lineup, visit the Frostbite Festival event page.