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As springtime approaches, a host of Alaskan sports and spectacles will greet visitors in a send-off to winter.
The Fur Rendezvous (Feb. 22 – March 3), rated the world’s best winter carnival by National Geographic Traveler, boasts among its activities the Running of the Reindeer, a dash down the city streets with caribou close behind. It might be called Alaska’s running of the bulls. Those less daring but just as energetic may enjoy the famous Yukigassen snowball fight or snowshoe softball. March 2 will also see the start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, whose 1,049-mile course begins in downtown Anchorage. On March 3, a city tour — appropriately on cross-country skis — will be led as part of the American Ski Marathon Series with 25K, 40K and 50K routes available for skiers of all ability levels. From April 19-21, the city will celebrate the arrival of spring with the Alyeska Spring Carnival. For the carnival’s famous annual Slush Cup, locals don zany costumes and dash down a hillside into an only partly melted pond. Visitors may find this more fun to watch than to do, but it is still quite a sight.
This is a special year for Anchorage, as the USS Anchorage, the Navy’s newest ship, will be docked in port beginning April 25 and commissioned on May 4.
Summer is a season of food and sport in Anchorage. The Anchorage Market and Festival, running May 11 – Sept. 8, is a weekend open-air market where local farmers and artisans sell their wares. The competitive Slam’n Salm’n Derby (June 14-23) invites visitors to drop a line in Ship Creek for the silver and king salmon. On June 22, the city celebrates the solstice throughout 22 hours of daylight. The celebration features live music and dancing in the Town Square. The Big Wildlife Runs are held Aug. 17-18 and include a kids’ 2K, as well as courses for adults ranging from a 5K to a full marathon.
Though the days shorten as summer slips away, fun does not decline in Anchorage. Around Thanksgiving, the Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout (Nov. 26-30) features some of the top college basketball in the nation. Between games, the city stays lively with such activities as its tree-lighting ceremony, the Nutcracker Ballet, Anchorage Museum’s Crafts Weekend and more. Finally, the city bids an ebullient farewell to the year on Dec. 31 with live music, fire performers, skating in the Town Square and a fireworks display.