When you’re searching for a snowy destination full of holiday spirit, look no further than Alaska. It is the perfect winter getaway location for celebrating the New Year. The cities of Anchorage and Fairbanks are brimming with exciting festivities that you can enjoy with your family or a few close friends. On the other hand, many small towns such as Barrow offer spectacular views of the northern lights. Here are the top New Year’s Eve getaway spots to book an unforgettable Alaska vacation rental.
Anchorage visitors and locals alike congregate at the Town Square Park for the Fire and Ice New Year’s Eve Celebration. Enjoy some ice skating, live music, and street performers. Take a break with some grub from local restaurants and food trucks, and then get ready for an early fireworks display. After the kids are tucked into bed, head over to the Alyeska Resort for the Torchlight Parade and fireworks. At the Luminary Ski, ski trails are lit by candlelight, and people snowshoe, walk, or ski down them toward the campfire where hot cider and cocoa are waiting below. Perhaps you want a different sort of fireworks to ring in the New Year. In that case, hop aboard the Aurora Winters Train to see the biggest fireworks display of all: the Aurora Borealis.
Fairbanks loves to ring in the New Year with music and dancing. The Rebirth, one of the biggest events, takes place at Raven Landing Center. This fun event features live music and DJs, dancing, and entertainment. Another big event is the Exotic Erotic Disco Ball. This adult-only experience offers a live funk band, appetizers, and cocktails, and you dressed up in your best exotic erotic outfit. If kids are part of your group, head to the Fairbanks Children’s Museum for a noontime party and ball drop. Your children can participate in age-appropriate activities, eat kid-friendly food, and hopefully wear themselves out before your adult parties. Top off the evening with the Sparktacular! fireworks display.
Juneau is no slouch when it comes to New Year’s Eve firework displays, and — bonus — it’s over the water so you can charter a boat and view the display in privacy. Before you get to this point, though, go to one of the city’s many dance parties. Swing in the New Year and the New Year’s Eve Barn Dance both offer opportunities to show off your moves or learn new ones. Because dancing takes energy, enjoy the hors-d’oeuvres, chocolate fountain, and champagne toast. If the family’s with you, opt for the Annual New Year’s Eve Block Party On The Wharf with dancing, performers, music, and games. The next morning, take the Polar Bear Plunge.
If you’re the outdoorsy sort, consider a vacation rental in Palmer. Valley Mountain Bikers and Hikers are hosting a New Year’s Eve skiing and snowshoeing event up Archangel Trail. Another option is the Apres Ski that ends at Hatcher Pass Lodge. Here you can warm up with food and drink before heading home.
Wasilla, not far from Palmer, hosts an annual New Year’s Eve fireworks show. Head to the warming tent when you get a little to chilly — particularly important for young members of the family — and find some s’mores and hot chocolate to warm up your belly. Grab some complimentary hand warmers, treats, and bottled water as you enjoy the festivities and live music.
Barrow, the northernmost city in Alaska, is located in the Arctic Circle, so embrace the cold and the snow with Eskimo Games, fireworks, and other fun. The Eskimo Games, an event that lasts from the day after Christmas to New Year’s Day, features unique games including Eskimo stick pull, one-hand reach, ear pull, seal hop, and kneel jump. The games are punctuated by the Northern Lights, fireworks, and drumming and dancing on New Year’s Day.
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If you want to know where to go in Homer, a small town in Alaska, follow the food. AJ’s Old Town Steakhouse and Tavern has sultry piano music in the background with good food and a New York time champagne toast. This way, you can get back to your vacation rental in time for a more personal midnight toast. Salty Dawg Saloon offers free hors-d’oeuvres and champagne toast, while Kharacters hosts a more formal party featuring multiple live bands, food, and a champagne toast. Start out the New Year right with a hike at the Eveline State Recreation Area.
8. North Pole
While the North Pole isn’t the northernmost city in Alaska, it lives up to its name with plenty of December festivities. The New Year’s Eve Spectacular! has a count down with Santa — because it is the North Pole, after all — and an icy wonderland. The ice park features ice mazes, sculptures, and slides for an experience that the whole family can get behind. Warm up with indoor crafts and hot chocolate.
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