Now that winter has finally settled into the Mat-Su Valley, it's time to look at your calendars and plan to visit some of the amazing community events that are held throughout the season. There are numerous community events that take place, but four stand out to us as "must sees."

Up first is the start of Talkeetna Winterfest, which spans two weekends, and because of the way the calendar plays out, it's early in the month! The world famous Talkeetna Wilderness Woman and Talkeetna Bachelor Auction take place on Saturday, Dec. 1, and the town will be a buzz of activity. The fun actually begins on Friday night (November 30), as the Parade of Lights kicks off the holiday season at 6:30 p.m. The following weekend, on Dec. 8, the popular Taste of Talkeetna takes place, which is a progressive dinner event that highlights all the Talkeetna restaurants. Both weekends are filled with events, and there are great little B&Bs and cabins to rent in the downtown area. For more information, visit the Talkeetna Chamber of Commerce web site here.

In downtown Palmer, one of the best holiday celebrations in Alaska takes place Dec. 7-9, as Colony Christmas comes to town. There are activities throughout the entire weekend, including a parade, impressive fireworks, craft fairs, kid's events and much, much more. This is a community event that you simply can't miss out on. Events take place throughout the downtown area. For a complete schedule, visit the Greater Palmer Chamber of Commerce web site here.

After the holidays die down, the Willow Winter Carnival gets fired up. The carnival takes place the last weekend in January and the first weekend in February every winter, and feature unique events such as outhouse races (you read that correctly) and several dog sled races. The Willow Community Center is the hub of activity both weekends. In 2019, carnival runs Jan. 26-27 and Feb. 2-3.

As we get closer to spring, the Iditarod takes center stage. The Last Great Race has its ceremonial start in Anchorage on Saturday, March 3, but the race begins for real on Sunday, March 3 from Willow Lake. There are a number of transportation and shuttle options available for race spectators.

Don't let winter drag you down - circle the dates on the calendar for these four events and get out and enjoy all the Mat-Su Valley has to offer during the winter months!