Walking around Anchorage, Alaska during the July 4 festival was a fun experience, full of games, food, and giant inflatables. Nothing says “Happy birthday, America” like inflatable blue monsters!
While the July 4 celebration is exciting, it’s not the only fun festival in the city. The best Anchorage festivals include music festivals, beer celebrations, athletic competitions, culinary fairs, and cultural events.
Read on for a current list of major festivals and fairs in Anchorage, from Alaska Beer Week to the Summer Solstice Festival!
And scroll to the end of the post for a detailed account of my first visit to the Anchorage July 4 Festival.
List of Anchorage Festivals
Anchorage Folk Festival
(January): The heart of winter is as good a time as any for the two-weekend Anchorage Folk Festival. It features folk music performances, a banjo contest, and dance workshops at various venues around town.
Alaska Beer Week
(Late January to mid February): Alaska Beer Week in January has been expanded into a full month of events. This is a statewide event that includes Anchorage activities such as beer tastings and scavenger hunts.
(Late February): Rondy, as it’s also called, is an 89-year tradition in Alaska. The two-week fest features a parade, a carnival, sled dog races, snowshoe softball, a snow sculpture contest, and all sorts of other winter fun, including the famous “Running of the Reindeer.”
Iditarod Ceremonial Start
(First Saturday in March): The world-famous Iditarod sled dog race kicks off each year in Anchorage with a formal ceremony and 1.5 miles of racing through Anchorage city streets. What a cool thing to see in person!
Spenard Jazz Fest
(Early June): Founded in 2008, the Spenard Jazz Fest brings jazz music events to the city, with local and outside jazz performers engaging in Jazz in the Park concerts, Battle of the Bands, and coffee shop shows.
Three Barons Renaissance Festival
(Early June): The Renaissance Festival operates over two weekends, with a culinary and artisan market, magic and costume shows, a chess tournament of champions, and much more.
The weekends are themed. Last year, the first weekend was pirate-themed, and the second weekend was fantasy-themed. This is one of the most creative Anchorage festivals!
Slam’n Salm’n Derby
(Mid-June): Head to Ship Creek in Downtown Anchorage to observe or participate in the city’s annual fishing contest, the Slam’n Salm’n Derby. Try to catch the largest King Salmon and win thousands of dollars in cash and prizes.
(Mid-June): Held on a weekend close to the Juneteenth holiday (last year, it was June 17-18), Juneteenth Anchorage features cultural and educational events and entertainment on the Delaney Park Strip.
Sundown Solstice Music Festival
(June): Anchorage’s own scaled-down version of Lollapalooza or Bonnaroo, the Sundown Solstice Festival brings national acts to town for a three-day music festival. Past performers have included dance-pop duo Chromeo and hip hop stars Big Boi and Rae Sremmurd.
Summer Solstice Festival
(Late June): Each summer, on the Saturday closest to the longest day of the year, downtown Anchorage celebrates its 22 hours of daylight with the Summer Solstice Festival.
This event features games, beer gardens, live music, arts vendors, and more. It’s one of the most popular and fun Anchorage festivals.
Aloha in Alaska Music Festival
(Late June): Experience Hawaiian culture in Anchorage with the Aloha in Alaska festival. This one-day event presents Hawaiian dance, music, food, and culture. Tickets are required for this one.
(Late June): The Arctic Valley Ski Area is the setting for the Chugach Fest, a two-day event with live performances from local bands. Camp overnight and enjoy the food trucks and beer garden.
(Late June): The annual celebration of Alaska’s LGBTQ+ community is based around a fair and the Anchorage Pride Parade and the Anchorage Pride Parade on the Delaney Park Strip downtown, between E Street and I Street.
Independence Day Celebration
(July 4): Anchorage holds a big ol’ America-first party every year, with a veteran’s parade and a celebration on the Delaney Park Strip that runs from 8 am to 6 pm, followed by fireworks.
The celebration I experienced in Anchorage on July 4 a few years back was pretty memorable. See the end of this article for photos and a detailed account of this festival.
Girdwood Forest Fair
(Early July): Girdwood is 36 miles south of Anchorage, but it may be worth the drive to check out the Forest Fair. This three-day event offers food, art, and entertainment, and it’s entirely free.
Bear Paw Festival
(Mid-July): Situated 12 miles from Anchorage in the town of Eagle River, the Bear Paw Festival is another summer fest that provides a parade, the Bear Paw Pageant, a foot race, a classic car show, and the Slippery Salmon Olympics.
Anchorage Chamber Music Festival
(July): Enjoy 10 days of concerts during the Anchorage Chamber Music Festival. The summer performances are held at the Anchorage Museum, recital halls, and even private homes.
Galway Days Irish Festival
(Mid-August): Celebrate everything Irish at the Galway Days Irish Festival in Town Square Park. Enjoy a full day of Irish music and storytelling, food vendors, a children’s tent, and a genealogy tent.
(Mid-August): Get those running shoes ready! RunFest is a two-day event in August with running competitions of all lengths, ranging from a marathon and half-marathon down to a 5K and a single-mile sprint.
Alaska Greek Festival
(Mid-August): Expect plenty of baklava, souvlaki, and gyros at the Alaska Greek Festival in August. The free event has been going strong for three decades and celebrates Greek culture with folk music, dance, cooking demonstrations, and lots of great food.
(Mid-September): The VegFest health and wellness festival gives guests an opportunity to learn about a plant-based lifestyle and to sample vegan food from vendors and food trucks.
Anchorage Wine and Food Festival
(September): The American Cancer Society sponsors the Wine and Food Festival at Hotel Captain Cook. Silent auctions, games, and multiple courses of elevated cuisine highlight the event, which has been going on for nearly 40 years.
Alaska Food and Farm Festival
(November): The Food and Farm Festival supports Alaska agriculture. Keynote speakers present their perspectives, and vendors offer workshops that teach guests about expanding food production in the state.
Anchorage International Film Festival
(December): Since 2001, the Anchorage International Film Festival has been a great excuse to leave the house in early December. More than 100 films are screened each year, with a focus on new media and independent film making.
Winter Solstice Festival
(December 21): The shortest day of the year (7 hours of daylight) is a good reason for a celebration. Head to Cuddy Family Midtown Park for ice skating, food trucks, and dog sled rides at the Winter Solstice Festival.
New Year’s Eve
(December 31): Anchorage holds a two-hour festival downtown to ring in the new year, with fireworks and live music performances.
Anchorage July 4 Festival: The Photos
I was in town on July 4 and was excited to attend the free festival for the holiday.
I missed the parade, but made it to the all-day festival at Delaney Park Strip featuring children’s rides, food vendors, and lots of giant blow-up balloons.
Speaking of giant blow-up balloons, here’s the Statue of Liberty. I know it’s just a balloon replica, but come on – that face needs some work.
Uncle Sam looked slightly more realistic.
The theme of the event this year was “Welcome Home” to the troops who have served overseas. So an inflatable Marine was appropriate.
I was interested in the food vendors, because you can often tell a lot about a place by the kind of culinary delights they can offer up at a festival.
Anchorage didn’t have anything really unique, like Rocky Mountain oysters or fried Snickers bars, but the fair had a wide range of options, from Caribbean food to Mexican cuisine to classic BBQ.
And, of course, no all-American fair would be complete without the funnel cakes. You’re not a real American if you don’t enjoy this stuff.
And how about some red, white and blue ice cream? We didn’t even plan it this way… we just happen to like strawberry and raspberry.
The booths were entertaining. There was one for the Anchorage derby team, the Rage City Rollergirls.
I found it awesome that Anchorage has a derby team, but I kept wondering who they play. Do they scrimmage against each other? Or fly all the way to the lower 48 for bouts?
Aside from the booths, this event was mainly for the kids. I was envious of the tykes who got to enjoy a pony ride.
I love the jousting attractions at festivals. The popularity of padded jousting duels may be the one positive, enduring contribution to society of ‘American Gladiators.’
The little ones got to ride with Mom and Dad on temporary slides.
Break a balloon with a dart, win a huge prize. Good deal! I’d choose the blue monster, of course. Because I’m patriotic.
My favorite sight at the Anchorage 4th of July fest was this pooch, who attracted all the attention. If you want to make fast friends at a public event, take your doggy and dress her up like this:
Aside from visiting quirky attractions like the Light Speed Planet Walk, the 4th of July celebration was our main source of entertainment for the day in Anchorage.
For more fun activities in Anchorage, see our lengthy list of city tours, including bike tours, food tours, and walking tours.
What are your favorite festivals and events in Anchorage?