Win­ter Won­ders

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

Where Alaska - - Where Now - Alaska -

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 Alyeska 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. 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. Find out more at alyeskare­sort. com.

If you’re in Fair­banks the end of Fe­bru­ary or through March, it is a must to check out the BP World Ice Art Cham­pi­onships. 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 from Alaska and all over the world each year. The Ice Park opens the third week of Fe­bru­ary and re­mains open through March. You can learn more about it at icealaska. 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, though, 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.

Alyeska ski re­sort

Ice Sculp­ture, World Ice Art Cham­pi­onships

Chena Hot Springs Re­sort

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