When Andy Williams sang White Christmas, he must have been envisioning Alaska. There may be no better place to visit when you’re dreaming of that postcard-perfect winter wonderland that looks like a scene straight out of Disney’s “Frozen.”
By heading north during the holiday season, you’ll see landscapes blanketed in snow with treetops glistening like stars when reflected in the sunlight. It’s a magical time of year that brings a wealth of holiday activities to enjoy and opportunities to get to know the locals who embrace the season with high spirits.
The only question is where to go–from Southeast Alaska to the town of North Pole and enchanting places in between, you’ve got some great options.
Located on the Kenai Peninsula along Kachemak Bay, Homer is breathtaking in every season. A work of art with dramatic mountains, glaciers, and the long, narrow piece of land known as the Homer Spit with gnarled driftwood scattered about the sand. In the winter, with those soaring snow-dusted peaks, backcountry areas blanketed in powder calling cross-country skiers and snowshoers, and dark nights illuminated by constellations and occasionally the dazzling northern lights, it’s truly a dream.
What Makes Homer Magical During Christmas
While the scenery is reason enough to visit Homer at Christmas alone, there will be twinkling holiday lights throughout and all sorts of fun events to celebrate the season.
- Annual Holiday Tree Lighting. Held in early December each year, the holiday tree lighting kicks it all off and comes complete with a visit from Santa Claus himself. Enjoy the Homer High School choir singing Christmas carols while sipping hot cocoa and indulging in S’mores along with other holiday-themed food and drink, all capped off with the tree lighting.
- The Nutcracker. Locals and visitors alike can enjoy this holiday classic ballet production, a long-time tradition in Homer, taking place since 1989. It features school-age children with a supporting crew of adults from throughout the community who come together to make it happen.
- Bear Creek Winery Garden of Lights. Bear Creek Winery, which overlooks Kachemak Bay and the glaciers beyond, is known for its handcrafted, award-winning fruit wines like Black Raspberry and Strawberry Rhubarb made from local fruits. It hosts the “Garden of Lights” with light displays, a bonfire, and hot chocolate.
2. North Pole
Yes, there really is a North Pole. This town is the quintessential place for a holiday getaway, although here, it’s Christmas all year-round with the decorations always up. The most popular attraction is Santa Claus’ House, a huge store with an endless array of Christmas toys, ornaments, and decor.
The walls are covered with “Dear Santa” letters that arrive from children from across the globe, there’s a live Santa for whispering your Christmas wishes, and a 42′ tall statue of Santa that overlooks the highway.
What Makes North Pole Magical During Christmas
North Pole is at its best in December when you can not only drive down streets like Santa Claus Lane and Kris Kringle Drive but enjoy the annual North Pole Christmas In Ice event. It takes place in the winter ice park next to Santa Claus House and includes Christmas-themed works of ice with a competition of ice sculptures created by both local and international carvers. There are even ice slides and twirlers along with plenty of color illuminating the dark nights of winter.
Plus, those long winter nights mean you’ll have a good chance of witnessing the colorful northern lights dance through the skies, complementing the scene below.
The largest city in Alaska, Anchorage is sandwiched between 5,000-feet-high mountain peaks. In the winter, not only does its beauty sparkle with icicles and blankets of snow but the moose population increases. This is when they head to lower elevations, looking for food. Locals even find them feasting in their backyards and they can often be spotted hanging around the Coastal Trail and Kincaid Park.
No matter what the season, there are multiple museums, galleries, and shops to explore, along with several breweries and plenty of restaurants serving tasty fare.
What Makes Anchorage Magical During Christmas
Anchorage is the place to go if you’re looking for a wide range of holiday-related events and attractions at Christmas, with December a joy-packed month. Plus, colorful lights will be splashed across the city to brighten up the night skies, with every neighborhood going all out.
- Christmas Village. The Christmas Village can be found at the Dena’ina Civic Convention Center and features an extensive variety of both Alaskan-made and imported arts and crafts for the perfect place to pick up unique gifts. Santa and his favorite elf make an appearance too.
- Holiday Train on the Alaska Railroad. One of the highlights of the season is the Holiday Train hosted by Alaska Railroad. It typically runs in late November and December and includes caroling, a visit from Santa, a magician, and more.
- Zoo Lights. At the Alaska Zoo you can enjoy custom light displays along trails that wind through its grounds, starting the Friday after Thanksgiving through early March.
Alaska’s capital city, Juneau, feels more like a small town and it happens to offer some of the most magnificent scenery in the state. There are no roads in or out, the only way to get there is by plane or boat with the Juneau Icefield on one side and water on the other. It sits within the Tongass National Forest while mountains rise out of the sea. In the winter, they’ll be covered in snow with the forests looking like a scene from a storybook. There are blue-tinted glaciers, plenty of snow sports to enjoy, and the possibility of viewing the northern lights if you’re lucky.
What Makes Juneau Magical During Christmas
The scene at Christmas makes Juneau even more magical with the boat-filled harbor decked out in holiday lights while a variety of events and activities can be enjoyed too.
- Christmas Eve at Eaglecrest. Every year on Christmas Eve, Santa visits the Eaglecrest Ski Area with a torchlight parade illuminating his way.
- Light Flights. The Light Flight is a helicopter tour that provides a bird’s-eye view of the city in all of its Christmas glory. Not only can it be the highlight of a visit during the season but you’ll be helping a good cause with proceeds going towards the Children’s Tumor Foundation.
- Christmas caroling. If you stroll downtown on Christmas Eve, enjoying the holiday lights, you can often hear Christmas carolers spreading cheer, creating a captivating scene.
The small town of Seward which sits along Resurrection Bay is a popular base for visiting Kenai Fjords National Park. In the winter the main road into the park, Exit Glacier Road, is closed to vehicle traffic but open to snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and dog-sledding teams.
It’s an awe-inspiring sight blanketed in snow with the silence typically only broken by the crackling of ice. Most of the wildlife the area is known for, including bald eagles, harbor seals, sea otters, and sea lions, will still be here to watch as well.
What Makes Seward Magical During Christmas
The Seward Holiday Arts and Crafts Fair is held for several days in early December. Hosted in the Seward cruise ship terminal, it includes visits with Santa Claus, live entertainment, holiday music, festive items to purchase, and a variety of food and drink.
Located in the Alaskan Interior north of Denali National Park and south of the Arctic Circle, Fairbanks was originally a gold rush boomtown. It’s the heart of the last frontier and may be at its best in the winter as one of the top spots to watch the northern lights.
You can also mingle with reindeer, explore an ice museum, and soak in warm, soothing geothermal waters at Chena Hot Springs Resort.
What Makes Fairbanks Magical During Christmas
It’s like a postcard in this city at Christmas as it goes all out for the holidays, complete with a towering Christmas tree. Inside the Santa Claus House, you can visit the man himself and browse a very extensive collection of holiday-related decor, gifts, and souvenirs.
There will be children singing carols, gospel choirs, and many restaurants hosting special Christmas dinners too. A tree lighting is held at City Hall, while businesses and homes alike are decked out in holiday lights.
Make Your Stay Magical
With the striking natural beauty that surrounds Homer combined with winter’s snow, it’s one of the most magical places to be for the holidays. And, even better, you can stay right on the Homer Spit by booking a room at Land’s End Resort where they make you feel like family.
Located right on the tip of the Kachemak Bay, it’s the perfect spot to cozy up together in comfort, enjoying views of the water reflecting the colorful lights of Christmas.