Win­ter Won­ders

With or with­out the sun, Alaskans find ways to have fun all year long

Where Alaska - - Content -

Alaskans find fun with or with­out the sun all year long.

Alaskans love the win­ter nearly as much as the sum­mer, and there is no short­age of fes­ti­vals and events through­out the sea­son cel­e­brat­ing the cold, the snow and the mag­nif­i­cent per­for­mances of the Aurora Bo­re­alis other­wise known as the North­ern Lights, not to men­tion the rugged spirit of the state’s res­i­dents.

Alaskans have found ways to em­brace the short days and long nights, and hearty vis­i­tors to the Last Fron­tier who don’t mind a lit­tle cold now make up more than 10 per­cent of the nearly 2 mil­lion who travel here each year.

A pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion is Alyes- ka Re­sort, a 304-room ho­tel about 40 miles south of Anchorage in the town of Gird­wood, which fea­tures world- class ski­ing of both the downhill and Nordic va­ri­ety. Find out more at alyeskare­sort.com.

The re­sort gets an aver­age of 650 inches of snow­fall each year, and fea­tures 2,500 ver­ti­cal feet of ter­rain spread over 1,610 ski­able acres, in­clud­ing North Amer­ica’s long­est dou­ble-black run.

If you’re in Fair­banks be­tween the end of Fe­bru­ary or through March, check­ing out the BP World Ice Art Cham­pi­onships is a must. The event has grown from a one-week, 8-team com­pe­ti­tion in 1990, to a month-long at­trac­tion in­volv­ing more than 70 teams from all over the world.

The com­pe­ti­tions, and the ac­com­pa­ny­ing kids park, at­tract more than 100 ice artists and ap­prox­i­mately 45,000 vis­i­tors each year. The Ice Park opens Feb. 23, 2015, and you can learn more about it at icealaska.com.

In Anchorage, the 10- day Fur Ren­dezvous Fes­ti­val known as Fur Rondy to lo­cals is capped by a fire­works show and the cer­e­mo­nial start of the Idi­tarod on down­town’s Fourth Av­enue. The fes­ti­val in­cludes car­ni­vals, sled dog races and the “Run­ning of the Rein­deer.”

In 2015, Fur Rondy will cel­e­brate its 70th an­niver­sary and con­cludes March 7, with the 1,000mile Idi­tarod sled dog race get­ting un­der­way of­fi­cially in Wil­low the fol­low­ing day. More about both events can be found at fur­rondy. net and idi­tarod.com.

Mark­ing spring in Fair­banks, the Arc­tic Man com­pe­ti­tion will mark its 30th year in April 2015. Known as the “last and cra­zi­est party of the win­ter,” Arc­tic Man is a race in­volv­ing a two-man team of a skier and a snow­ma­chiner fea­tur­ing steep downhill drops and the snow­ma­chine pulling the skier at speeds faster than 80 miles per hour. See more about this race at arc­tic­man.com.

Also in the In­te­rior is the Chena Hot Springs Re­sort, one of Alaska’s most well-known des­ti­na­tions in any sea­son. A win­ter visit is truly a mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ence at the re­sort about 60 miles north­east of Fair­banks. When­ever you may visit, make sure to tour the unique Aurora Ice Mu­seum main­tained by World Ice Art Cham­pi­ons, Steve and Heather Brice. The fa­cil­ity is op­er­a­tional year round us­ing the same geo­ther­mal en­ergy that heats and pow­ers the re­sort and keeps the Aurora Ice Mu­seum a cool 25 de­grees Fahren­heit in­side year round. Learn more at chenahot­springs.com.

World- class ski­ing

Fur Rondy

Aurora Mu­seum bar

Ice Art Cham­pi­onships

Idi­tarod

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