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Have you ever been in temperatures so cold that your eyelashes have formed ice crystals? Or stepped outside and had your breath catch in your chest as the icy air hits your lungs? These might not sound like pleasant experiences, but they’re unique and memorable – and ones that are easy to experience if you decide to visit Alaska in February.
After January, February is the coldest month in Alaska – and also one of the darkest. This means you’ll have a very different experience if you visit the Last Frontier during this month compared to those during the summer months. In this post, I’ll share everything you need to know if you’ve already decided to plan an adventure and visit Alaska in February.
My last Alaska trip before the world stopped traveling in 2020 was to experience Alaskan winter by visiting in February – and lemme tell ya, it was definitely an adventure. From long nights chasing the aurora to unseasonably frigid temperatures while out ice fishing, meeting reindeer, and riding a dog sled, Alaska has a ton of unique winter experiences to offer. Just remember to bundle up!
In this post, I promote travel to destinations that is 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 November 2022, and was updated most recently in November 2023.
Weather in Alaska in February
It’s not easy talking about the weather in Alaska as the temperature and climate vary considerably depending on the geography. In this section, I’ll give you an overview of the weather you can expect in Anchorage (in Southcentral Alaska) and Fairbanks (in Interior Alaska), which are the bigger cities I recommend visiting in February in Alaska.
Anchorage is Alaska’s largest city and sits on the southern coast. February is the last month of winter in Anchorage, and as such, freezing temperatures are the norm. In February, the average high temperature is 24.8°F (-4°C), whereas the average low temperature is 15.3°F (-9.3°C). As for precipitations, Anchorage receives 0.5 to 1.0 inches (11 to 26 mm) of rainfall and between 5.5 and 18 inches (14 to 46 cm) of fresh snow in February.
Fairbanks sits about 260 miles north of Anchorage. Not that far, right? Well, a few hundred miles has a huge impact on the weather in Alaska – just like in the Lower 48. February is freezing cold in Fairbanks, with the average-high hovering around 12°F (-11°C) and the average lows at -3°F (-19°C). During this month, Fairbanks receives about 4″ of snow.
To recap, temperatures in Alaska in February range from an average low of 12°F (-11°C) to an average high of 26°F (-3°C). This increase in temperatures is partly because there’s a bit more cloud cover (about 50% of days) and about 8 hours a day of daylight.
Daylight Hours in Alaska in February
Knowing how much sunlight Alaska receives during February is a piece of info that will help you when planning your itinerary. While days have started to lengthen, Alaska is still pretty dark during February.
Same as the weather, daylight hours change depending on the region:
- In Anchorage, days have an average length of 9 hours and 4 minutes in February. The shortest day of the month is the 1st with 7 hours and 50 minutes of daylight. The good news is that days are only getting longer from here on. By the end of the month, the days will have lengthened to almost 10.5 hours from sunrise to sunset.
- In Fairbanks, February days have 8 hours and 31 minutes of sunlight on average. The first day of the month is only 7 hours and 3 minutes long, while the last and longest day of the month is 10 hours long.
Top 8 Things to Do in Alaska in February
There are tons of fun things to do in February in Alaska, and each city has unique activities you can enjoy. Nonetheless, I’ve made a list of my top five activities to guide you when you’re planning your own itinerary.
Alaska ComiCon (Feb 3-4)
If you have a passion for all things geek, then you can’t miss the Alaska ComiCon! It’s hosted hosted at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks.
Here, capes and costumes reign supreme as fans and cosplayers alike embark on a quest for the ultimate comic book experience. The event is split into two areas. One is full of aisles filled with graphic novels, action figures, and rare collectibles – you can usually find the comics you are looking for at decent prices, often much lower than you would pay in a comic book store.
The other is filled with booths and panels where special guests from comics, movies, and TV grace the stage. Get ready to unleash your inner fanboy or fangirl as you meet your favorite artists and creators, perhaps even snagging an autograph or two.
Annual Winter Carnival Celebration & Parade (Feb 11)
Who said winter is to stay at home? Homer celebrates the Annual Winter Carnival Celebration & Parade. Talk about a great plan to get your mind off of the cold!
The theme for the carnival this year is Breaking Out of Hibernation. You’ll be able to enjoy various floats from local businesses, civic, and non-profit organizations, associations, and individuals of all ages. The carnival takes place in Downtown Homer. Oh, and the Parade starts at 12:00 noon! So make sure to drive a bit earlier to find a good spot.
Juneau Jazz & Classics Special Event (Feb 12)
Music lovers, this one is for you. Dive into a musical voyage at the Juneau Jazz & Classics Special Event—a great celebration of jazz and classical music in the heart of Alaska’s capital. The event organizes performances from world-class musicians, blending genres and showcasing the timeless allure of jazz and classical compositions. Besides listening to great jazz, you can attend educational concerts and instructional workshops to hone your musical skills.
Valdez Ice Climbing Festival (Feb 17-19)
I don’t have to tell you that Alaska is a paradise for outdoorsies. The Valdez Ice Climbing Festival is fair proof of that. This event summons ice climbing enthusiasts from around the world to adventure amidst the frozen cascades of Valdez.
This year, the event is organized by the Valdez Mountaineering Organization. There are no details yet about the schedule. But you can sign up on their website to receive updates!
World Ice Art Championships (Feb 17-March 3)
If you happen to be in Fairbanks during February or March, the World Ice Art Championships are definitely worth checking out! It is absolutely amazing the things they carve from ice…..unbelievable sculptures, games, slides, chairs, etc.
There is also a lovely warming hut which has snacks and hot drinks for purchase. You can also rent sleds for free! The sleds are great for taking down any of the slides, which is SO MUCH FUN. There are plenty of ice games to play, such as mini golf, connect four, table tennis, skeet ball, corn hole, and checkers.
Festival of Native Arts (Feb 22-24)
The Festival of Native Arts already is a tradition in Alaska. It started back in 1973 when a group of University of Alaska Fairbanks students and faculty wanted to organize a spring festival focused on the artistic expressions of each Alaska Native culture.
Every year, the festival unites the major Native culture groups of Alaska, as well as foreign groups of the continental United States and countries such as Japan, Russia, and Canada. They all share the rich heritage of their cultures. The theme for their 50th Festival will honor the ancestral lands of the Lower Tanana Dene’.
Fur Rondezvous (Feb 22-Mar 3)
The Fur Rendezvous Festival is one of Alaskans’ most awaited events. Known locally as Fur Rondy, the festival has been celebrated since 1935 and marks the beginning of the end of a long winter and the approach of spring.
They haven’t shared the event schedule for 2024 yet. However, here are some of the activities you can enjoy based on past years. First, there’s the Fur Rondy Carnival with Ferris wheels, caramel apples, and of course the famous Century Wheel! You can also attend the Alaska State Snow Sculpture Championship and the Sled Dogs Downtown Scavenger Hunt & Auction.
Denali Winterfest (TBD around February 25-26)
No matter your interests or age, Denali should be on your Alaska itinerary. If you happen to be visiting in February, by all means, go to the Denali Winterfest. This festival is all about making the most of Denali’s amazing landscapes. There are activities for all ages, interests, and abilities.
If you have an artistic side, you can show your skills at the Snow Block Sculpting Competition. For outdoor lovers, the festival organizes a Guided Snowshoe Walk. Little ones have the Denali Winter Games. Oh, and I can’t forget about my favorite activity: stargazing! Join guides at the Mountain Vista parking lot to view constellations, planets, and maybe even the northern lights
What to Pack for Alaska in February
Alaska’s February weather calls for careful preparation when it comes to packing. That is why I have written an entire Alaska winter packing list so you can see the basics I recommend for any trip. But, if you want the ultimate advice for what to pack for Alaska, it is to bring layers.
Layers allow you to stay warm according to the temperature changes you experience while doing different activities – you want to avoid overheating and sweating as much as you can.
To give you more specific advice on how I layered to stay warm in the Alaskan winter, here’s what I’m wearing in both of the photos above:
- On top, I’m wearing a base layer (I love Unbound Merino), a long-sleeve cotton shirt, my favorite North Face green jacket, and a heavy, down jacket from Columbia. I have links for both of those jackets in my Alaska jacket guide.
- On the bottom, I have a base layer (usually also Unbound Merino) and a pair of UNIQLO jeggings for the day; at night, I added on my snowboarding pants from Burton (recommended in my winter packing list linked above).
- On my feet, I have Smartwool socks; during the day I was wearing my favorite Norwegian-style snow booties, and I switched to heavy-duty snow boots at night when it got colder. Both are linked in my Alaska shoe and boot guide.
- On my head, I’m wearing a simple synthetic beanie. I also have a synthetic scarf (not the best choice, I’d choose a merino wool today).
- On my hands, I have liner gloves as a base layer, and my snowboarding mittens to layer them up, especially at night.
I also had hand and foot warmers that I tucked into my boots and mittens to help keep my fingers and toes warm at night – I visited at an especially cold time in February 2020 when the lowest temp we experienced was -35°F in Fairbanks! BRRRRR!
Have any other questions about visiting Alaska in February? Let me know in the comments below!