May 17, 2024

Beauty Arts

The Arts Authority

From northern lights to ice carving, there’s plenty to draw people to Fairbanks in winter

From northern lights to ice carving, there’s plenty to draw people to Fairbanks in winter

What does it take to coax travelers to head north in midwinter?

Northern lights? Ice sculptures? Doggy mushing? Strolling with the reindeer?

The community of Fairbanks leans in on these wild winter functions, together with ice fishing, snowmachine excursions and all manner of street excursions, air tours and special things to do. Anchorage also hosts many of these functions — but the ice carving levels of competition in Fairbanks is amazing.

Ice carvers Steve and Heather Brice pose in front of one of their ice sculptures

Steve and Heather Brice have been carving ice from the tremendous-very clear “Arctic Diamond” blocks in Fairbanks for a long time. In addition to doing the job on prize-successful layouts in the once-a-year Ice Alaska levels of competition, the Brices are the carvers out at Chena Scorching Springs’ 12 months-round Ice Museum.

This yr, the Ice Alaska carving level of competition is on display screen at the Tanana Point out Fairgrounds on College or university Highway in Fairbanks. About half of the location is devoted to kids’ things to do: ice slides, ice putt-putt, ice checkers, ice ping-pong and other spouse and children-pleasurable routines.

Last week, the exterior temperature was creeping up higher than freezing. But when the Brices took me for a stroll by way of the ice carvings on show at Ice Alaska, it acquired cold swiftly. “Thank goodness for these trees,” claimed Heather Brice. The campground at the fairground is in the woods, which functions as a buffer to the blazing sunlight.

A fantastical ice carving by Steve and Heather Brice, on display at the Ice Alaska park in Fairbanks

There are 3 methods to get to Fairbanks from Anchorage to see the ice sculptures. You can travel, which can help save you the price tag of leasing a car or truck on arrival.

The Alaska Railroad’s Aurora Wintertime Train operates a few moments a 7 days for the subsequent two weeks (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday). The southbound teach returns on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The teach usually takes 12 several hours but affords breathtaking sights and a peaceful atmosphere.

Alaska Airlines flies many instances a day, so I picked a midday departure on a person of the E175s operated by Horizon Air. My flight bundled an unscheduled bonus. The skies have been very clear, so the pilot came on the intercom shortly just after takeoff. “Well, we have obtained some more gas now. We’re going to fly all-around Denali so absolutely everyone can get a fantastic watch,” reported the pilot. “And do not stress —we’re still getting to Fairbanks two minutes early.”

Ice putt-putt at the Ice Alaska park in Fairbanks

If you are headed to the Ice Alaska park, the opening time is midday. It is enjoyable to wander by means of and see the ice carvers utilizing a combination of saws and chisels to switch their basic ice blocks in to performs of art. There are separate categories in the carving level of competition: single block, double block and numerous block.

The most effective way to see the ice, while, is after darkish. The park is open every single evening right up until 10 p.m. by way of the close of March. The LED lights lend a magical theme the two to the carved ice sculptures and to the spouse and children enjoyable space. If you show up 1st all through the working day, you can get a wrist-band when you leave to re-enter right after dim.

Whilst I did not see the northern lights though going for walks by the ice park, the entire moon rose over the ice slide.

Due to the fact the park closes at 10 p.m., there is however time to choose an excursion to see the northern lights.

Several companies will pick you up at your lodge and take you to a favorite place to perspective the aurora. Northern Alaska Tour Company can take vacationers to a roadhouse north of Fairbanks at Pleasure, Alaska. Aaron Lojewski of Fairbanks Aurora Excursions goes in his van in which he thinks the aurora will be best on that night. The crew at 1st Alaska Outdoor College has various excursions — from close by Murphy Dome to a trip up the Dalton Highway to the Arctic Circle.

There are 3 daylight locations that I really like in Fairbanks:

1. The Museum of the North on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus. Really don’t miss this. The museum has a complete Alaska collection, but also boasts a sturdy fashionable Alaska artwork portion. Do not be concerned, the big bowhead whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling will not drop down on you. Then there’s the “The Put The place You Go to Pay attention,” an show by John Luther Adams. Inside a smaller space, each and every seem or light aspect signifies a pressure of mother nature: aurora borealis, earthquakes, phases of the moon — even the wind. It’s my beloved part of the museum.

2. The Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum. The museum is tucked absent in back of the Wedgewood Vacation resort off of College or university Highway. For the duration of March, the museum is open up on Wednesdays and Sundays. Prevent in and pay a visit to with Willy Vinton, the museum supervisor. A lot of of the automobiles on display are a lot more than 100 a long time aged. Most of the cars date back in advance of Globe War II and several of them have an Alaska link. 1 of my favorites is a Ford Product T truck with a keep track of package and skis for touring in the winter season.

3. Chena Warm Springs Vacation resort. The resort is 60 miles outside of Fairbanks — so not every person can make the excursion. But it’s a great destination. There’s the Ice Museum where by the Brices have carved a lot of substantial-structure sculptures. There’s also an ice bar, exactly where you can buy a special appletini and love it in a glass made of ice. Operator Bernie Karl powers the total vacation resort making use of thermal power from the sizzling springs. That consists of greenhouses where by they expand all the develop served at the cafe. If you remain at the resort, you can indication up for nightly excursions up to the leading of a nearby hill for aurora viewing. The hot springs supply a continual water source for the two indoor and out of doors swimming pools.

An up-close view of Denali, taken from the window seat on an Alaska Airlines flight to Fairbanks

If you will need a very good cup of espresso to keep up late for the northern lights, I recommend McAfferty’s coffee store at 408 Cushman St. They roast their coffee on the premises and they pour an excellent espresso.

Alaska Coffee Roasting Corporation at 4001 Geist Highway also serves up superior espresso, alongside with a range of baked merchandise.

For a vintage Fairbanks vibe at the finish of the workday, visit HooDoo Brewing at 1951 Fox Ave. The brew pub capabilities a major outside beer backyard with huge fireplace pits. It’s nicely-populated, even in the winter. There is ordinarily a food stuff truck parked exterior to grab a bite. Brewmeister Bobbie Wilken studied in Germany and introduced his beer-producing information again to Fairbanks.

There are several other popular brewpubs in Fairbanks, which include Lat 65 Brewing, which also attributes cider.

Even so you get to Fairbanks this month, be confident and verify out the ice sculptures. For extra tips on wintertime pursuits, verify in with Examine Fairbanks at the Morris Thompson Visitor Heart — on the financial institutions of the Chena River.