Winter Events

Mark your calendar for these entertaining, unique and zany Alaska winter events, which bring national attention to Alaska and small cities scattered throughout the Matanuska and Susitna Valleys each winter.

Check out the Calendar of Events for dates and other events happening in the Matanuska Valley this winter.


Bright Up The Night
Palmer, Alaska
A holiday lights extravaganza at the Alaska State Fair, featuring more than 70 displays coordinated to music, on a drive through the fairgrounds.

Colony Christmas Celebration
Palmer, Alaska
A charming, three-day hometown holiday celebration and 70-year tradition for Palmer, Alaska, held annually the second weekend in December. Enjoy horse-drawn and reindeer sleigh rides, light tours, gingerbread houses, tubas, fireworks, Christmas carolers and more.

Talkeetna Winterfest
Talkeetna, Alaska
Talkeetna hosts several unusual events during the year including a month-long winter celebration each December with famed Wilderness Woman Competition and the Bachelor Auction and Ball.


Willow Winter Carnival
Willow, Alaska
This annual winter festival covers two back-to-back weekends, the last weekend of January and the first weekend in February. Highlights include dog sledding, skijoring and cross-country ski races, as well as zany Alaska competitions such as outhouse races, log sawing and ax throwing. Indoor games, kids activities, a talent (or not) show and live entertainment draw festival-goers indoors for a quick warm up.


Iron Dog Snowmobile Race
Fairbanks to Nome to Big Lake
In 2020, the Iron Dog finished in Big Lake for the first time. Typically, it starts in Big Lake and travels to Nome, and then on to Fairbanks, but a course change made the finish line in the Mat-Su Valley. The race typically starts the second weekend in February and then finishes seven days later.

Susitna 100
Big Lake, Alaska
A 100-mile extreme winter race through the remote Susitna River Valley on ski, bike or foot.

Iditarod Trail Invitational
Athletes from across the globe race 350 or 1150 miles along the Historic Iditarod Trail by bike, ski or foot in the world's longest human-powered endurance race from Knik, Alaska to McGrath or Nome.

Jr. Iditarod Sled Dog Race
Settler's Bay to the Yetna Station Roadhouse
Dedicated young mushers from around the world blaze the Iditarod trail in a 160-mile junior sled dog race held annually the weekend preceding the start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.


Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race
Mushers and their sled dog teams travel along the Iditarod Trail in a race to Nome, covering more than 1,100 miles of extreme terrain in the "Last Great Race." After a ceremonial start in Anchorage, the race officially begins in Willow the first Sunday in March.

Talkeetna events
The Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge opens for three weeks in March, and offers cooking classes, wine tastings and more throughout the time its open. The Oosik Ski Race also takes place in March, as does a large fat tire bike race.

Check out the Calendar of Events for dates and other events happening in the Matanuska Valley this winter.