Accessed via one of the world’s most scenic drives (or daily flights) from Anchorage, Homer is an enchanting destination along the shores of Kachemak Bay, surrounded by soaring mountains and glaciers. Fishing enthusiasts, wildlife lovers, aesthetes, outdoor adventurers, foodies, and travelers of all types enjoy it here.
While many visitors arrive during the warmer months of the year, this Kenai Peninsula town is magical year-round with activities and attractions in every season. Quite a few annual Homer, Alaska events are even worth planning a trip around, including these.
The Homer Winter Carnival brightens up the season with a new theme each year. Kicking off on the second Friday in February, this carnival is a fun-filled week of festivities. On Saturday, many line the streets of Homer’s Old Town to watch the parade with unique floats designed by the locals, animals, antique cars, music, and dance. Afterward, there’s a chili cookoff and basketball tournament, a great way to mingle and get to know the local residents.
Winter King Derby
Summer may be the peak season for fishing in Homer, one of the world’s best destinations for the activity, but it’s possible to test your luck by joining a fishing charter in the winter too. The season is capped off with the annual Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament in mid-March, with more than $200,000 in prize money at stake.
As the world’s halibut fishing capital, the chamber of commerce hosted the Jackpot Halibut Derby throughout the summer for several decades as one of the most popular Homer, Alaska events.
That event has now been transformed into the annual Homer Halibut Tournament, a two-day tournament with the first taking place in June 2023. For a $100 entry fee, you can fish both days in an effort to pull in the biggest and take home the jackpot. Beer gardens, food trucks, music, and more are all part of the fun.
Annual Tree Lighting
Homer’s holiday season begins with the Annual Tree Lighting ceremony in early December, which takes place just outside the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center. A prominent member of the community switches on the lights while everyone enjoys the songs of Christmas carolers, hot chocolate, and treats, along with a visit from Santa Claus.
The Homer Nutcracker Faire is typically held at Homer High School on the first weekend of December. It’s the perfect place to pick up a special gift, souvenir, or unique piece of home decor featuring arts and crafts that are exclusively made on the Kenai Peninsula.
The Nutcracker is a big part of the Nutcracker Faire, one of the most highly anticipated Homer, Alaska events of the year. There are several performances of the home-grown production which takes place in the high school’s Mariner Theatre, wowing the audience every time.
Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival
Spring is lovely in Homer, with the days getting longer and warmer, whales returning, moose calves taking their first awkward steps, and bears waking from hibernation, sleepily making their way out of cozy dens. This is also when the annual Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival takes place, attracting birding enthusiasts from around the world.
Held over four days in early May, the whole town comes out to celebrate, enjoying art shows with works focused on birds, guided birding excursions, expert presentations, and much more. It’s the largest wildlife festival in the state, celebrating the return of some 100,000 migrating shorebirds.
Alaska World Arts Festival
As an artsy town, there are many galleries, studios, and creative types in Homer, inspired by the beauty of the area. The showcase of the year is the two-week Alaska World Arts Festival, hosted by the Homer Chamber of Commerce in the middle of September, a time when the dazzling colors of autumn spice up an already stunning scenic drive on the Kenai Peninsula. It features visual arts, theater, music, dance, film storytelling, comedy, and literature.
Homer Peony Celebration
Sometimes referred to as the “City of Peonies,” Homer is famous for the sweet-smelling and vibrantly-hued flowers that come in red, pink, yellow, orange, and white. There are over two dozen peony farms here, and the Homer Peony Celebration honors them over several weeks in July.
Some of the peony farms are open to visitors, providing a great way to learn how the flowers are grown in this unique climate. Workshops like how to make a centerpiece using foliage and a bucket of blooms, self-guided garden tours, and art classes are all part of the event. Walks through the fields offer the perfect opportunity to capture photos of the flowers with a magnificent backdrop of the Homer Spit and Kachemak Bay.
No matter what time of year you visit Homer, Alaska, end your day of festivities at one of our cozy accommodations at Land’s End Resort. Our furnished cabins and lodges feel like a home away from home where you can rest, relax, and take in the gorgeous sights of Kachemak Bay.