Winter is Alaska’s busiest season, and it’s the best time of year to get an authentic feel for the culture because the season is chock-full of events that celebrate the spirit of Alaska.

Alaska’s official state sport – dog mushing – is featured in the largest of these winter events. Dozens of sprint and mid-distance races take place all winter, but in late February through early March, two big races test mushers against the winter wilderness – the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race.

Alaska is also known for its quirky festivals and celebrations, and winter is peak season. With plenty of time on our hands to let our creativity bloom, winter events range from unusual to downright odd: The Cordova Iceworm Festival, featuring the Miss Iceworm competition; Anchorage’s Fur Rendezvous, with snowshoe softball, ice bowling and the Miners and Trappers Ball; Tripod Days in Nenana, where gamblers can make a wager on when the Nenana River ice will break up in the spring; and Fairbanks’ Chatanika Days, the highlight of which is the annual outhouse races.

Museum shows, gallery walks and performances are frequent in most cities. Click through to the event calendar and start planning your Alaska trip today!