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The 4th of July in Alaska: Independence Day Across The Last Frontier

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As the midnight sun illuminates the Alaskan sky, a unique aura of celebration comes alive in the Last Frontier. There’s no place quite like Alaska to celebrate America’s Independence Day, where 4th of July festivities take on a character that’s as wild, sprawling, and awe-inspiring as the state itself.

Each city embraces the day with a unique flair – imagine watching the traditional fireworks display against the backdrop of towering, snow-capped mountains, or participating in raucous frontier games under the bright midnight sky. Perhaps you’d like to witness one of the most challenging foot races in the world in Seward, or partake in the biggest picnic in Anchorage. The rugged beauty of Alaska becomes your playground, offering a 4th of July experience that is truly incomparable.

4th of July in Alaska Hero

After growing up in Alaska and moving down to the Lower 48, I haven’t been back to celebrate the 4th of July in Alaska – but my memories are strong. Below you’ll find the same Independence Day celebrations I used to attend as a kid, as well as other parties, parades, and events that will happen across the state.

If your travel plans will have you in Alaska on the 4th of July, you’re in for a treat: here are all the ways you can celebrate with locals in a variety of unique ways.

In this post, I promote travel to destinations that are the traditional lands of many Alaska Native groups, including the Aleut, Athabascan, Haida, Inupiat, Tlingit, and Yuit peoples. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.

This post was originally published in June 2023, and was updated for this year in June 2024.

Eagle River: Lions Club Fireworks (July 3rd)

Little did I know that the Independence Day celebration I grew up attending – the Lions Club-sponsored fireworks in Eagle River – is the first 4th of July celebration that takes place in Alaska each year.

While many things have changed since I called Alaska home as a kid, the 4th of July fireworks actually light up the night on the 3rd of July – but they occur very late (usually starting around 11:30pm and ending around midnight) as that’s how late you have to stay up for the sky to get dark during early July in Alaska!

The best way to plan to attend this event is to keep an eye on the Eagle River Lion’s Club’s Facebook page, where they post details in advance of each year’s festivities. According to the description, the evening’s events begin at 6:30pm and culminate at midnight with a fireworks display.

Anchorage: 4th of July Parade

4th of July in Alaska - Anchorage

Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage, unsurprisingly hosts one of the largest celebrations of Independence Day in Alaska. While I know there are many Alaskans who would rather just be their own country, there is still a lot of patriotic pride in Anchorage – especially since it is home to two of the big military bases in the state.

The website hasn’t updated the information for 2024 yet. But, for a bit of context, the 2023 celebrations featured a parade at 11am in downtown, and the annual Alaska Baseball League Fourth of July doubleheader between crosstown rivals the Anchorage Glacier Pilots and the Anchorage Bucs. There also was an all-day festival at the Delaney Park Strip which sits just south of downtown

Fairbanks: Pioneer Park 4th of July Celebration

Fairbanks is another large Alaskan city (though only about 10% the size of Anchorage!) and one known for its 4th of July celebrations.

For 2024, the exact details haven’t been announced yet, but in years past, the party has kicked off at 1pm with a formal flag presentation ceremony by local leaders and military officials. Other activities include train rides, a children’s parade, costume prizes, and family-friendly games – all with live music throughout the afternoon.

In nearby Ester (15 minutes west of Fairbanks), there’s also a community parade and potluck if you’re looking for something with a little more small-town charm.

Glacier View: Fourth of July Car Launch

4th of July in Alaska - Car Launch
Photo courtesy of Facebook

If you’re looking for a truly unique experience to mark Independence Day, what better way than by watching cars declare their independence from gravity momentarily before smashing to bits? The Glacier View car launch has quickly gained a reputation as one of the quirkiest and fun 4th of July celebrations in Alaska – and it’s back again this year.

On the 4th, head to Glacier View River Retreat starting from 8:30am (the parking lot is usually full by 10am!); be sure to bring your own blankets and chairs to sit as everyone parks at the top of the hill and walks down to choose a spot for the show. This year, cars including New Yorker, 1983 Silverado, Dodge Caravan, Taurus, and Explorer models will take flight, along with some other rumored ones like a Pink Barbie Corvette and a Motorhome… tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for kids; there will be food trucks available to sustain you throughout the day.

Haines: 4th of July Weekend Events

For a small town, Haines packs a big punch when it comes to celebrating the 4th of July in Alaska. Instead of just one day, there is an entire weekend of events to enjoy and participate in.

The 2024 schedule has been announced! This year, the celebration kicks off at 8am and includes a parade, Tlingit Park Lawn Party, Mad Raft Race, a bingo, a fire hose battle, and many more fun activities! Of course, the day concludes with stunning fireworks. As the 4th is on a Thursday this year, the schedule may differ a bit, but you can keep an eye on the Haines Chamber of Commerce website for details as they’re shared. (Visit Haines also has an events page where details will be added.)

Homer: Independence Day Parade

4th of July in Alaska - Homer

While some might call it the “end of the road” (due to the end of Alaska Highway 1 out on the Homer Spit), it’s also “the place to be” if you love celebrating Independence Day.

With a theme of “Historical Homer,” this year’s parade is the main event in Homer. Sticking to the theme, you can expect floats and boats (on trailers) all decked out to honor our patriotic history. It all kicks off at 3pm and the route runs from Homer High School to the old Homer Middle School.

Also, the Homer Peony Celebration is ongoing through this weekend, so be sure to add that to your calendar if you’ll be in Homer for the 4th of July.

Juneau: Fourth of July Parade

Juneau is another community that joins the patriotic celebration. The event kicks off with a parade at 11am from 9th Street and Egan. Since this year Juneau is honoring Juneau Youth, all of their Grand Marshals are from local High Schools.

Annually, Juneau also concludes Independence Day with fireworks over the Gastineau Channel; these are fired off on the 3rd of July, at midnight (like Eagle River, where I grew up!).

Ketchikan: Fourth Fest

Sponsored by the City of Ketchikan and Alaska Airlines, Fourth Fest takes over downtown Ketchikan on the 4th of July to allow visitors to connect with local vendors from across the region and state. 50 tents pop up all across town offering everything from local crafts and arts, games, and even food trucks to keep you well-fed during the party.

This is a perfect spot to grab unique souvenirs if you happen to find yourself in Ketchikan for the 4th.

North Pole: July 4th Parade and Festival

While it’s only a short distance from Fairbanks (about 20 minutes south), North Pole hosts its own 4th of July celebration that usually draws a big crowd. After all, who wouldn’t want to celebrate Independence Day while surrounded by Christmas decor?! (Talk about Christmas in July!)

This year on the 4th of July, the city of North Pole will have a parade and picnic for locals and visitors; the parade kicks off at 10am and will have a theme of “Stars, Stripes & Santa”.” Expect floats and fun based on this theme, followed by a picnic at North Pole Grange with local vendors, games, races, and contests.

Seward: Mount Marathon Race

4th of July in Alaska - Seward

Planning to be in Seward on the 4th of July? Be prepared for crowds – and one of the most unique celebrations you’ve ever seen.

Each year on Independence Day, Seward hosts the Mount Marathon Race, so named for Mount Marathon that looms over town. On this day, intrepid athletes run up and then back down the mountain – it’s a big deal and a big honor to complete and compete in the race!

2024 is the 96th Mount Marathon Race and kicks off with the junior’s run at 9am, the men’s race at 11am, and the women’s start at 2pm.

Sitka: Fourth of July Celebration

4th of July in Alaska - Sitka

Y’all know I love Sitka, so it’s no surprise that their Independence Day celebration looks like one of the most fun to me.

In 2024, Sitka’s 4th of July party includes a parade (can you tell we Alaskans love our parades?!) followed by a Coast Guard search and rescue demonstration, and then the Sitka Fire Department versus Coast Guardsmen water fight – it’s that last one that sounds like the most fun to watch!

Skagway: Independence Day Celebration

Skagway is already a historic spot – it was the epicenter of Alaska’s activity in the Klondike Gold Rush – and that spirit comes alive each 4th of July in Alaska.

The party starts off at 9:30am with a children’s parade down Broadway, followed by the main parade at 10am with the theme “Hear us Roar in 2024: Celebrating Skagway’s Independent Spirit!”. That’s just the beginning though; a full schedule of events will be published in mid-June sharing the rest of the activities visitors can enjoy if you’ll find yourself in Skagway on Independence Day. (In past years, this has included music, games, and street food; be sure to grab a Klondike doughboy if you see them!)

Valdez: 4th Of July Celebration

Picturesque Valdez is worth visiting any time of year, but if you find yourself there for the 4th of July, you’re in for a treat.

While the majority of details haven’t been announced yet (keep an eye on this page for the parade and other event details), the celebration takes place at the Kelsey Dock Plaza and some crowd’s favorites are back this year, like Uncle Salmon Freedom 5K & 1 Mile Fun Run & Paddle Board Jousting.

Be sure to check out the Valdez Parks & Rec page if you want to register for either of these events as a visitor.

Wasilla: 4th of July Parade

Wasilla and neighboring Palmer are the two largest communities in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley (Mat-Su, to locals), and Wasilla plays host to the main Independence Day events. (This is balanced since Palmer hosts the Alaska State Fair – a great time!)

The theme for this year’s celebration is “Celebrating the Spirit of Wasilla, 50 Years of Service to the Community!”. The Wasilla’s parade kicks off at 11am, winding through downtown before it ends at the Wasilla Mayor’s picnic at Iditapark. This runs from 1-3 p.m., with live music and free hot dogs. Yep, you read that right: free hot dogs!

Whittier: Full-Day Celebration

Whittier might be a small town – home to just 275ish people who all live in a single building – but their 4th of July celebration is one of Alaska’s biggest!

There’s a tiny parade through the downtown “triangle” (blink and you might miss it!) followed by a BBQ and games! Little ones make a big contribution to this day by decorating their bikes and riding through the streets plus the locals dress up in goofy outfits.

Where will you be celebrating the 4th of July in Alaska? Let me know any questions in the comments below!

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I was born on the East Coast and currently live in the Midwest – but my heart will always be out West. I lived for 15 years in Alaska, as well as four years each in California and Washington. I share travel resources and stories based on my personal experience and knowledge.


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