As you might imagine, the vast frosty wilderness of Alaska is a pretty special place to be come Christmastime. While you’ll need to pack plenty of warm clothes and make sure to wrap up nice and snug, an Alaska cruise vacation in December can be a wonderful, magical, festive experience. From the winter markets in Juneau and the bright Christmas lights of Anchorage to the remarkable festive town of North Pole, Alaska offers Christmas cheer and holiday joy everywhere you turn.
So if you are planning a Christmas getaway and want somewhere that really knows the meaning of Christmas, why not consider a vacation to Alaska, for a festive season you’ll never forget! Here are a few of the places you need to visit for a magical Christmas in Alaska.
#1 Santa Claus House, North Pole
Yes, there really is a town called North Pole in Alaska! It all started when Nellie and Con Miller moved to Fairbanks back in 1949. Con dressed as Santa every Christmas to entertain the local children, and when they established a trading post outside of town it seemed natural to decorate it like St Nick’s home! The Santa Claus House became famous worldwide overnight, and over the years a town grew up around it, largely devoted to Christmas. These days visitors to the Santa Claus House can deliver their letters to Father Christmas in person, while the town of North Pole boasts year-round Christmas decorations, festively-named streets, and a wide variety of wonderful Christmas celebrations!
The state capital of Alaska really knows how to throw a proper festive celebration, and the gorgeous harbor decorated with lights is worth the visit alone. Juneau offers an amazing Christmas Eve parade (complete with a visit from Santa) at the Eagle Crest Ski Area, an amazing festive helicopter tour that provides a birds-eye view of the stunning lights and decorations of the city, and a strong tradition of Christmas caroling.
If arts and crafts are your thing then a visit to Ketchikan’s Winter Arts Faire is a must. This little island is a charming spot to visit all year round, but really comes into its own over the Christmas break with this wonderful market bazaar. The perfect place to buy unique and delightful Christmas gifts, the Faire showcases the work of nearly 100 local makers and designers, with a vast array of jewelry, textiles, ornaments, and metalwork. The Winter Arts Faire kicks off with a party, complete with local Santa.
If you want to combine a trip to see Alaska’s dramatic coastline with a wholehearted Christmas celebration, then Anchorage might be your best bet. Throughout December, Alaska’s largest city comes alive with an incredible calendar of events, festivals, and performances. It is the destination of the Holiday Train on the Alaska Railroad, the venue for the Family Holiday Pops Concert, and the Anchorage Zoo boasts one of the best light displays in the country. It also offers a huge Christmas Village, housed at the Dena’ina Civic Convention Center, which is a wonderful place to buy unusual and one-of-a-kind gifts for the family.
Petersburg is a small town just north of Juneau, originally founded by Norwegian settlers. These days the Christmas celebrations here have a distinctly Nordic flavor, starting with the lighting of the vast 70 foot Christmas fir! Don’t miss the wonderful tradition of Julebukking, where local businesses hand out sweet treats and freshly-baked pastries. Petersburg also celebrates with a stupendous Festival of Lights, as the town is decked out in glittering magnificence, making it one of the most beautiful places to spend Christmas in Alaska.