One of the most unique things about Alaska is the period of time in the summer when the sun never sets. There are only 8 countries in the world that experience this phenomenon, plus Antarctica. Because of the way the earth is tilted on its axis, the top and the bottom of the globe experience well-known parts of the winter when the sun never shines. But not everyone realizes that the opposite is the case during the summer. That’s right, in the summer, Alaska becomes the enchanted land of the midnight sun.
This year, I chose to celebrate the land of the midnight sun by heading up to lovely downtown Fairbanks for the 35th annual Midnight Sun Festival—Alaska’s largest single-day event! It took place on Father’s Day this year, so it was a great chance to spend a little quality time with my kids and grandkids while celebrating what makes our state so great.
This festival had something for everybody, and I’ll definitely be going back next year. There were lots of local and regional vendors selling food and crafts. I got to stop by one of my favorite Alaskan festival regulars, the Alaskan Soda Jerk, a 50’s style kiosk with cool drinks and retro music. There were awesome musical performances by Alaskan bands, and plenty of stuff to keep my grandkids entertained—they got to pretend they were prospectors panning for gold, and then we all took a turn riding on the ponies. But my personal favorite part was getting to meet Iditarod mushers Ally Zirkle and Allen Moore. Nothing feels quite as Alaskan as dogsledding.
While this festival was only a day long, the season of the Midnight Sun goes on throughout the summer in northern Alaska. On the summer solstice, the sun set at 12:47 am in Fairbanks. I’m planning to take advantage of the extra daylight hours to do some outdoor exploring and hiking. The long days don’t mean that we don’t still need sleep, but it’s hard to turn down an adventure with so much daylight to work with. And of course I always fuel my hiking adventures by eating my delicious wild-caught salmon and cod.
Now that June is coming to an end, days are once again getting shorter. I’m trying to spend as much time in the sun as I can. Even if you aren’t able to make a journey to the land of the midnight sun, spend the next few months enjoying as much sunlight as you can.