Technically, Winter Solstice is the beginning of winter – when the cold weather sets in and we prepare to hunker down for a while. Why, then, have people all over the nation celebrated the first day of winter? It’s all a matter of perception. For some, the view is one of being the shortest, darkest day of the year and the onset of winter weather. For others, it is a new beginning where we gain a few cherished seconds of light each day after the Winter Solstice leading us ever closer to the sunnier seasons once again.
For many people, that’s something to celebrate – the thought of warmer weather getting closer and closer. Many folks celebrate darkness is behind them and lighter days are ahead. It is both a spiritual and natural occurrence all over the world. Holiday festivals and traditions are everywhere for Winter Solstice.
Alaska may have a more special association with Winter Solstice as it experiences times of minimal sunlight hovering over a frosty landscape and later on in the year earns its nickname of the land of the “Midnight Sun.”
How exciting it must be for Alaskans to anxiously await the time where they experience a day of up to 18 hours or more of sunlight. Fortunately for those visiting Alaska or those who live there, there’s plenty of activities to enjoy while they wait.
Of course, the actual day of Winter Solstice was filled with so much festivity. There were lantern walks, hikes, bonfires, sleigh rides and even fireworks. But the celebrations don’t stop there. There’s so much to see and do in winter time in Alaska.
Aurora Borealis: Northern Lights in Dark Nights
Travelers gather from all over to view the Northern Lights. It is both a magical and mysterious event that has been keeping viewers in awe. The dead of winter is the best time to view the Northern Lights, which is a spectacular display of multi-colored lights dancing and weaving its way across the night sky in Alaska.
Some locals and visitors alike say that Fairbanks may be the best spot to view the lights. The darker it is, the more chance you have to see this spectacular display of Mother Nature.
Gear up for Downhill Skiing
You won’t see a lot of artificial snowmaking machines; there’s plenty of white stuff courtesy of Mother Nature during winter in Alaska. You can gear up and head up the mountain at the Alyeska Resort where you will encounter more snow than you’d ever thought you’d see and experience challenging mountains all under a world-class setting.
At the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, you can enjoy the experience of cross-country skiing if that’s more your style.
Snowmobile Excursions are One-of-a-Kind in Alaska
Some resorts have snowmobile excursions that are pretty similar. In Alaska, you can experience snowmobiling in a more in-depth way. Take a snowmobile tour of the backcountry as you view the sights and sounds of nature on the Alaskan landscape.
The views of the mountains and the chance to spot wildlife in their natural habitat are both breathtaking and awe-inspiring.
If you’ve ever wanted to experience what it’s like to be a dog musher, then winter in Alaska is your chance. You’ll get a chance to meet the experts that run the Iditarod race, and you’ll get to meet and greet an amazing team of dogs who will pull your sled.
Enjoy the scenery and the sights and sounds of an experience like no other. If you have the chance, you might want to explore the Iditarod National Historic Trail where those dogs were responsible for the only way for community members to receive their mail and supplies to those deeply engaged in the Gold Rush.
Get Close Enough to Kiss a Glacier
No trip to Alaska would be complete if you did not get close enough to a glacier to seemingly touch it. Hike up toward Exit Glacier and listen to the sights and hear the sounds as you experience majestic nature.
If you’re visiting Juneau, visit Mendenhall Glacier with miles on end of views, floating icebergs, and plenty of natural wildlife.
While other folks are dreading the onset of winter, you could be enjoying all that Alaska has to offer while you pass the time waiting for sunnier days and shorter nights.