Winter Events
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Winter Activities Abound

Fairbanks winters may have a reputation for being too cold and dark for humans to function, let alone have any fun, but there is plenty to do here even in the winter.

Winter temperatures can plummet to 40 below zero, especially during December, January and February. But those extreme temperatures are more the exception than the rule, and seldom hold more than a week at a time. Temperatures have been known to be -20 one day and +20 the next.

The average temperature for December is about 8 below, for January, 10 below and for February, 4 below. The average temperatures during March through November are above zero.

Winter Carnival
Follow the link for more information and complete March schedule.

Northern Lights
While light may be a bit scarce during the winter months, the sun is never gone for an entire day in the interior, so there is plenty of time to enjoy the outdoors. And it is the dark that allows us to see the Aurora Borealis so well! Chena Hot Springs Resort has a special aurorium especially for aurora viewing, and several other places do as well.

Fairbanks has many cross country ski trails and several area businesses offer rental of ski equipment. We have some very active skiing clubs, check our Events Calendar, Sports, for more information.

For those who enjoy downhill skiing, Fairbanks has two downhill skiing areas, all with equipment rental available and comparable prices. Moose Mountain Ski Resort is only 20 minutes from Fairbanks.

Dog Mushing
Mushing is another favorite Alaska experience. Several local kennels offer dog sled rides, and mushing instruction (see our Dog Mushing page). And when mushing and skiing meet, the result is skijoring, where a harnessed sled dog pulls a skier, and sometimes, a sled and skier.

For those with the need for speed, Fairbanks winters are perfect for revving up the snowmachine and taking off cross-country. Snowmachines are available for rent from local businesses as well.

The Arctic Man Ski and Sno-Go Classic is a favorite winter competition, though it is not for the faint of heart. The 5.5 mile event, held in April, involves skiers hurtling down a mountainside, then being pulled to the top by a snowmachine, then speeding downhill again to the finish line. See our events calendar for specific dates.

Outdoor Tours
Though some outdoor tour groups offer winter clothing, it is advisable to pack your own just in case. Warm hand, foot and headwear are important. An important rule of thumb to remember when dressing for Fairbanks outdoor fun is: layer your clothing. Fairbanksans have learned that several loose layers of clothing work best to keep out the cold, and then, if the temperature rises, a layer can be removed.

Winter Advice for Chechakos
We thought you might like this web site, Living in Extreme Cold, built by school children in Fairbanks, which gives advice for surviving our winters. It won an award in an international Cyberfair competition.

Spectator Winter Sports

Yukon Quest Sled Dog Race
For those who would rather observe than participate in winter sports, opportunities for that exist as well. In February, mushers competing in the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race will leave from Fairbanks or Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, and arrive at the other city about 10 days and 1,000 miles later. Fairbanks also hosts the Limited North American Championship and the Open North American Sled Dog Races in March.

Learn about Mushing
There are dog mushing displays in the Fairbanks Community Museum downtown, at the Public Lands Information Center, and at the University of Alaska Museum. The locally owned Sun Dog Express offers a half day dog mushing clinic, for those who want to learn how to do it themselves.

Breakup Lottery
One interesting winter sport for the early spring (breakup time) is river watching - specifically, betting on the Nenana Ice Classic. For $2 you can have a shot at winning thousands ($300,000 in 1998) by guessing the date and time of the Breakup of the Tanana River as measured in the town of Nenana.

Ice Carving Championships
A combination of outdoor recreation and artistic beauty is captured every year at the annual ice carving championships, scheduled for March. Ice carvers from around the world gather in Fairbanks to fashion elaborate sculptures out of crystal-clear ice. For a small fee visitors can wander through the outdoor display of the glistening creations. During the earlier part of the winter, many are happy to pay to have the carvers practice by carving sculptures for outside their businesses.

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Curling, or "shuffleboard on ice" is popular in Fairbanks. The Fairbanks Curling Club hosts events throughout the winter season. For more information, check our sports calendar or call (907) 452-2875.

Indoor Winter Activities

For those who would rather NOT experience winter at all, there are many indoor activities available. There are museums, gift shops and art galleries, as well as many performing arts events. Plays, ballets, concerts, and recitals occur throughout the year. Annually recurring events can be found on our calendar page.

Natural Hot Tubs
You might want to get a way from it all and experience winter from a hot tub at one of the local spas. Check out our page on Interior Hot Springs for more information. Visitors have at least four hot springs to choose from, with more amenities available the closer they are to town.

A Final Word

In addition to the many activities available to Fairbanks winter visitors, there are other advantages to traveling to Fairbanks during the "off-season."

Accommodations in the area are generally easy to come by during the winter, while during the summer finding a hotel with an open room can sometimes be next to impossible, especially if you arrive in the late evening. The rooms are generally less expensive during the winter as well.

Museums, gift shops and restaurants, while certainly nice during the summer, will be far less crowded during the winter, allowing for a more leisurely perusal of the contents of the building, and for a chance to chat with a local resident who is not in a harried state.

For more information about winter events and activities in Fairbanks, contact the Fairbanks Convention and Visitors Bureau at their log cabin by the river on First Avenue, or by calling (907) 456-5774. An electronic daily calendar of events is available year 'round at (907) 456-4636.



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