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Crisp mornings where you can see your breath. Cold sunlight on golden leaves. The chance to spot the aurora dancing in the sky… September is a great month to visit Alaska – especially when you know how to prepare and make the most of it.
I love visiting Alaska in September; it’s one of my favorite months to visit. Mr. V and I took a delightful two-week land-and-sea trip in September 2021 that included some of my favorite destinations like Denali and Sitka. (I’ve since visited Alaska a few more times in other months too!)
If you’re planning a trip to Alaska in September and want all the details specific to the month of your visit, you’re in the right place. Below you’ll find September-specific Alaska travel info: general weather and daylight hours info, special events that only happen in September in Alaska, and tips on what to pack specifically in this transition month/shoulder season. Ready to learn the last details you need to prepare for your September trip?
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.
Weather in Alaska in September
As I always say, talking about the weather in Alaska is not as easy as other states. Mainly, because the temperatures and weather vary significantly within Alaska due to its size and diverse geography.
September in Alaska marks the transition from summer to fall, meaning longer nights and cooler weather start to make an appearance. On average, you can expect September temperatures to typically range from around 40°F to 55°F. There may be some rainfall, too – and even the potential for snow as the month goes on.
For the sake of logistics, I’ve left below a brief description of the weather you can expect in different regions of Alaska.
- Southcentral Alaska (including Anchorage, Seward, and Homer) boasts average lows around 40°F and highs around 55°F. Southeast Alaska (including Juneau, Sitka, and Ketchikan) is very similar.
- The Interior region (like Denali National Park and Fairbanks) is right in the middle, with temperatures ranging between 35°F and 55°F. Yup, it’s getting cold over here!
- As you’d expect, the Arctic has the coldest temperatures in Alaska in September, ranging from average lows of 28°F to average highs of 33°F. Be ready to bundle up if you’re visiting this part of the state.
Daylight Hours in Alaska in September
Again, how much sunlight the state receives depends on the region. But, as I said before, Alaska is transitioning into fall in September, so daylight hours start to decrease.
On average, Anchorage and other Southcentral destinations receive about 15 hours of daylight. If we move further north, Fairbanks and Denali have around 17 hours of daylight depending on how far north you go. In the Arctic Circle, September marks the beginning of the polar night – that period of continuous darkness when the sun does not rise above the horizon. You can expect around 14 hours of daylight.
Top Events in Alaska in September
Just because things are getting colder it doesn’t mean there are less fun things to do! Below you’ll find eleven events that you can include in your trip around Alaska in September.
Alaska State Fair (through Sept. 4)
First up, you have the Alaska State Fair. The fair was established in 1936 and has become an annual tradition in September in Alaska. This event is special because it offers a little bit of everything. There are fun contests, art exhibits, games, rodeos, and even livestock exhibitions.
Oh, and the food trucks! You’ll have the chance to munch on some Alaskan culinary delights. This year, Noah Cyrus, among others, will be the musician in charge of musicalizing the festival. Tickets are already available, so make sure you get them!
Mudball Classic Softball Tournament (Sept. 1-4)
Sports enthusiasts can participate in the Mudball Classic Softball Tournament. This annual tournament invites softball teams from around the United States to play in Sitka. You’ll be able to enjoy a fun time with fellow locals and travelers who want to show off their throwing and catching skills. So grab your gear, lace up your shoes, and prepare to dive into the ultimate sporting extravaganza in beautiful Sitka.
Girdwood Fungus Fair (Sept. 2-3)
If you have interests in botany or simply enjoy the wonders nature has to offer, boy, you’ll love the Girdwood Fungus Fair. This annual event invites you to discover and learn about the overwhelming diversity of Alaska’s fungi and forests.
The fair is run by the most diverse kind of people, from artists who love painting mushrooms to owners of gourmet mushroom businesses. They will announce the schedule of events in late July, and registration for forays and workshops will open in mid-August.
Alaska World Arts Festival (Sept. 7-23)
While Alaska may not be the place that first comes to your mind when thinking about art, the state loves to create opportunities where artists can show their work and people can appreciate it.
The Alaska World Arts Festival takes place in Homer and covers all the disciplines in the world of arts. You’ll enjoy dance and theater performances by local groups, literate and storytelling exhibits, and much more. There will also be a local band paying tribute to ABBA, the iconic Swedish band from the 70s.
Klondike Road Relay (Sept. 8-9)
Runners can also stuffy their yearning for new challenges in Alaska in September. The Klondike Road Relay is a race that follows the White Pass, the 109-mile historic trail used by some Gold Rush Stampeders.
The race begins in Skagway and ends in Whitehorse, Yukon; you’ll pass through some breathtaking landscapes and even the traditional territories of the Chilkoot Tlingit people, the Carcross Tagish First Nation, the Kwanlin Dün First Nation, and the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council. If you don’t feel like getting your heart rate up, you can come and cheer for your favorite athlete.
Cordova Fungus Festival (Sept. 8-10)
The Cordova Fungus Festival is another opportunity for you to venture into the enchanting realm of fungi as you explore a world hidden beneath the forest floor. But this festival goes a bit further as it tries to explore and explain how the life-cycle of fungus, salmon, and the forest are interconnected.
There will also be workshops for kids and artsy activities, like mushroom handcrafting and harvest-themed art shows. Foodies can attend the Wild Harvest Tasting Party to sample some local flavors!
Platypus-Con 2023 (Sept. 8-10)
If you love board games or are traveling with your kids, Platypus-Con in Juneau is for you. This annual convention has one goal: to show people the magic of board games.
To do that, they organize multiple game demonstrations throughout the day, Catan tournaments, special events with huge versions of board games, and many more activities. You can even witness experienced board players showing off their tactics.
Sacred Acre Festival (Sept. 8-10)
Sacred Acre defines itself as the best electronic music festival in Alaska. It takes place in Ninilchik and invites some of the world’s top electronic music artists to play in the largest and most visually stunning laser and digital art stage displays ever showcased in Alaska.
But it’s not all about music and dancing; the festival also has an environmental focus and a percentage of the proceeds will be donated to local and national charities that want to limit the fishing practice of trawling.
Harvest Moon Local Food Festival (Sept. 16)
If you are always scouting for the best restaurants wherever you go, you can’t miss the Harvest Moon Local Food Festival in Kenai. This food festival is a local effort to teach people how to eat healthier and gain more access to local foods.
All the food vendors sell products that have been grown, harvested, or made in Alaska. There will also be a chef’s tent where cooks will be teaching culinary skills and new recipes for you to take back home. Take the time to explore the grounds, enjoying new flavors while listening to local bands!
Áak’w Rock Indigenous Music Festival (Sept. 21-23)
As the name suggests, the Áak’w Rock Indigenous Music Festival is a three-day Indigenous music festival held on the ancestral homelands of the Lingít (People of the Tides) of the Áakʼw Ḵwáan (People of the Little Lake).
It is the only Indigenous music festival in the States and is one of the few chances you’ll have to explore Indigenous music from around the world and how Indigenous creative expression is approached.
Anchorage Oktoberfest (Sept. 24)
Last but not least, Anchorage’s Oktoberfest takes place in September in Alaska. Because what’s better than enjoying a good pint of German beer when it’s starting to get cold outside?
Anchorage celebrates the Oktoberfest at the Egan Center. There will also be food stalls with local culinary delights and a few German-inspired dishes. Last year, The Alaska Blaskapelle and The Alaska Polka Chips performed, and 2023 details will be announced soon.
(There are occasionally other Oktoberfest-themed events in Alaska; someday I’ll write a post rounding up all of these – let me know in the comments if you want me to do that!)
Capital Brewfest (September 30)
Will you find yourself in Alaska’s capital city at the end of September? If so, craft beer lovers will want to pay special attention here – Juneau is hosting their annual Capital Brewfest charity event on September 30th. There are standard and VIP tickets that include beer glasses (not to be confused with beer goggles!) and early admission to get the first sips.
The event will take place at SubPort downtown (Tracy’s Crab Shack 2) which will be lovely if the weather is good; you should purchase tickets in advance to save $10+.
What to Pack for Alaska in September
September is a transition month in Alaska; it can start out quite pleasant and sunny and end in snow. That makes packing even trickier than during the more predictable summer months of June, July, and August.
Here are my tips for what to pack specifically in September, but you should also review my general Alaska packing list and my Alaska cruise packing list too. (If you’re planning an end-of-season Alaska cruise, be sure to read my thoughts on that too…)
- As always, you should pack layers – especially rain-proof (not rain-resistant) layers if the forecast is even slightly cloudy during your visit.
- Choosing the right outer layers is an essential but tricky part of what to pack; I have a guide for the jackets and outer layers I recommend for Alaska travel; September is a prime time to pack down in addition to wind-cutting and rain-proof layers.
- Don’t forget to pack waterproof footwear in addition to any shoes/boots you want to walk around on nicer days. (I have a whole guide to shoes and boots for Alaska including rain boots.) Wool socks will do you well too.
- Late summer can be mosquito season, especially if it has been rainy earlier in the summer; here’s a guide to the mosquito repellants I recommend.
- While I normally recommend an eye mask, you can afford to not bring it from September on into winter; it’s dark enough each night that you won’t need it (though you might still want it!).
That pretty much covers it, right? Have any other questions about what to pack for Alaska in September, things to do in Alaska in September, or anything else for your Alaska trip? Let me know in the comments below!
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