Alaska is one of the wildest, most beautiful, and most unspoiled landscapes in the world.
Stretching across an area larger than Texas, California, and Montana combined, it is a vast, untamed, stunningly gorgeous wilderness that thoroughly deserves the nickname “The Last Frontier”.
Located in the far northwest corner of the US, and filled with frozen glaciers and snow-covered mountains, Alaska is the perfect seasonal destination for a Christmas vacation.
Bold adventurers wanting more than their fair share of snow and ice over the festive period will find exactly what they are looking for in the 51st state, although they should be warned to wrap up warm!
Christmas is the perfect season to travel to Alaska.
Not only is the weather and the surrounding scenery perfectly suited for winter festivities, but Alaska really leans into the Christmas spirit, and there are amazing things to do and places to see, with Christmas celebrations across the state all the way through December.
So if you are thinking about packing your bags and heading out to discover the true meaning of Christmas in the frozen north, here are the best places to experience an unforgettable Christmas in Alaska.
Alaskan Christmas Guide: Where to Go and What to Expect
Did you know that you can visit Santa Claus’ house at the North Pole in Alaska? No, that’s not a geographical typo – the North Pole is actually a small town just outside Fairbanks, where the Christmas spirit rules all year long!
This charming, curious little town grew up around its main attraction, the Santa Claus house owned by Nellie and Con Miller.
Originally started as a trading post back in the 1950s, Con Miller used to dress up as Santa at Christmas to entertain local kids.
After a while, his act was so popular that he began to remodel the house to resemble Santa’s home and workshop, and kids from all around the world started writing letters to Santa at The Santa Claus House, North Pole, Alaska.
Since they began receiving letters, the Millers have written over 2 million responses ‘from Santa’!
The North Pole itself renamed streets to get into the spirit, and you can now walk down St Nicholas Drive or Snowman Lane, and take a selfie in front of the gigantic fiberglass Santa at the entrance to the town!
For a truly beautiful place to celebrate Christmas in Alaska, it is hard to beat Soldotna.
Boasting one of the most extravagantly decorated Christmas trees in the state, Soldotna Creek Park offers the perfect combination of Christmas cheer and natural beauty, with the Kenai River providing a dramatic and stunning backdrop.
The whole town comes alive over Christmas, and you’ll find stalls selling gifts and eggnog, as well as groups of carolers entertaining locals and tourists alike.
The Alaska Railroad
Taking a ride on the Alaska Railroad is an unmissable experience at any time of the year, but particularly so over the Christmas period.
During December, the Railroad transforms into the Holiday Train, complete with costumed train attendants, exciting festive activities, carol singing, competitions, magical performances, and even a visit from Saint Nick himself!
Alongside the novelty of Christmas elves checking your ticket, the Holiday Train is the best way to see the stunning wintry landscape of Alaska up close, while staying warm and comfortable inside!
Juneau is the state capital of Alaska, so as you might imagine it is one of the top spots to celebrate Christmas in the state.
From the boats in the harbor decked out in Christmas lights to the celebrated Holiday Pops Concert, Juneau really rolls out the red carpet for Santa come December.
The main event is the Juneau Public Market, where you can buy handmade ornaments, Christmas gifts, and festive food and drink, in a wonderful setting surrounded by seasonal cheer, Christmas music, and winter-themed performances and shows.
The island of Ketchikan is one of the loveliest spots to visit during the Christmas period in Alaska.
The main attraction is their Winter Arts Faire, a festival of amazing handicrafts and artisan creations, with over 80 stalls showcasing the best local arts and crafts creators in the area.
From jewelry and textiles to pottery and photography, it is a celebration of creativity and a fantastic opportunity to buy interesting, alternative, and unique gifts for your family and friends, as well as support local makers.
The small town of Petersburg in the Tongass National Forest just south of Juneau was founded by Norwegian settlers in the 19th century and has maintained a charming and delightful Nordic feel to the present day.
As a result, the Christmas celebrations here are a real treat! The centerpiece of the Christmas celebrations is the 70-foot fir tree in the middle of the town, a true Norwegian giant!
Local businesses hand out sweet treats as part of the tradition of julebukking, while the light displays are some of the most impressive in Alaska.
Most people visit Anchorage at Christmas to board the Holiday Train, as it is the terminal of the Alaska Railroad. But the city is a great place to celebrate the holiday season in its own right.
There is a wonderful program of festive concerts, amazing ice sculptures pop up all over town, and the upscale stores in the main shopping district compete to showcase the most lavish window decorations.
Palmer is the home of the Christmas Factory, the festive element of the Alaska State Fair, and is therefore a great place to visit during December.
From firework displays to Elf Training Courses, this is one of the most innovative and entertaining things to do in Alaska at Christmas.
Things to Know About Alaska – Getting There
Getting to Alaska at Christmas is relatively simple. Most people fly into Anchorage, as a number of major airlines serve the city including Alaska Air, United, and Delta.
You can also get to the state by ferry from Bellingham in Washington state. It’s a long journey, but the natural beauty of the coastline makes it a tempting option, particularly during the winter.
Getting around Alaska is also a breeze, with a decent highway system, excellent intra-state flights, and ferries connecting the various island communities with the mainland.
The Alaska Railroad is another great option, particularly during the Christmas period thanks to its transformation into a festive express complete with Santa and his elves.
It is worth noting that Alaska is fairly huge, so getting around does take time, and you should plan accordingly.
There is plenty of accommodation to be found in Alaska, from self-catered lodges and cabins to fancier hotels.
It is worth making reservations as early as possible, however, particularly if you are traveling over Christmas itself, as things do book up and December is one of the busier times of the year.
Alaska is relatively chilly at the best of times, but Christmas in Alaska is positively freezing! Temperatures in Alaska over the festive season range from ‘highs’ of 0°F to lows of -30°F!
As a result, packing the right gear is essential. Thermal underwear, warm coats, hats, gloves, and scarves are an essential part of any Alaskan Christmas vacation.
Are you excited about Christmas yet? Now that you’re prepared with ample information about the Alaskan way of life and places to see on “The Last Frontier”, you’re ready for anything!