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See the Midnight Sun in Fairbanks, Alaska

by Barbara Rogers

May 15, 2024

© Alan Stoddard | Dreamstime.com

Destinations / North America

Take a hike at midnight, watch a midnight baseball game without stadium lights, enjoy round-the-clock music and entertainment at a state fair: The sun never sets on summer fun in Fairbanks. For 70 days, from May 17 until July 27, the sun doesn’t drop far enough below the horizon for the sky to get dark, and family travelers will find plenty of ways to enjoy all that daylight.

 

Locals celebrate the Summer Solstice — the longest day of the year — with a free, 12-hour street fair, this year on June 22. The Midnight Sun Festival brings more than 30 live music performances to its three stages, while downtown is filled with street vendors. Kids can pan for gold, challenge a climbing wall and take pony rides.

 

For more than a century, Fairbanks has taken advantage of the longest day to hold the Midnight Sun Game, which continues through the midnight sunset/sunrise without turning on the lights. Stopping at the inning closest to midnight, the teams and crowd sing the Alaska Flag Song.

 

On the same weekend is the annual Midnight Sun Run, open to runners and walkers beginning at 10 p.m. The racecourse runs through neighborhoods, where local residents cheer runners on from yard parties at homes along the route. At the starting line is the Kids Zone, a tent for out-of-towners, and lots of Midnight Sun Run clothing and souvenirs for sale, too.

 

In mid-July, Golden Days commemorate the discovery of gold and founding of Fairbanks with events, costumes, a street fair and Alaska’s biggest parade. In early August, as the days begin to shorten, Tanana Valley State Fair celebrates the harvest.

 

Taste the flavors of berries grown with constant daylight and admire the giant pumpkins and other vegetables produced by the short, intense growing season. Along with the usual midway rides, look for features unique to Alaska: World Eskimo-Indian Olympics demonstrations, gold-panning exhibits, an antique tractor pull, a barn dance, and around-the-clock music and entertainment. Nights are just beginning to get dark enough for the fireworks display.

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