17 Wildly Entertaining Winter Events That Everyone On The Kenai Loves

Credit: Leif Hagen

Credit: Leif Hagen

Even though winter is getting ready to (hopefully) come to a close, we wanted to break into the March Madness spirit with a compilation of exceptional winter events held right here on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground. Because this time of year, we all need a little extra something to help beat those wintertime blues. Without further ado, check out some of the most action-packed winter wonderland activities on the Kenai Peninsula and get ready to fall in love with the snowy season all over again.

Credit: Eric Teela, Flickr

Credit: Eric Teela, Flickr

1 – Seward Polar Bear Jump
The Seward Polar Bear Jump is held each year during the month of January in the beautiful town of Seward on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground. This fun event was started over 30 years ago in 1986. Come out dressed in your best funny costume and plunge into the waters of Resurrection Bay to help raise money for the Alaska Division of the American Cancer Society. For event information, click HERE.

Credit: Seward City News

Credit: Seward City News

2 – Tustumena 200 Sled Dog Race
This fun event usually kicks off around the end of January, and is an absolute ball of a time that the whole family will get into. Founded in 1983, the Tustumena 200 Sled Dog Race (T-200) is a non-profit organization that generally runs every winter on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground. Over the years it has grown its reputation to draw competitive distance mushers from Alaska, the lower 48 states as well as international locations. For more event information and to view the locations along the trail, click HERE.

Credit: Clint Pickarsky

Credit: Clint Pickarsky

3 – Holiday Event at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage
Held in the middle of December of each year, the holiday fun at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is the perfect way to ring in the magic of the season on The Kenai. Visitors can enjoy fun animal programs, crafts, pictures with some of your favorite Christmas characters and so much more. For more event information, click HERE.

Credit: Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Facebook

Credit: Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Facebook

4 – Frozen RiverFest in Soldotna
Held in February of each year and organized by the Kenai Watershed Forum, this fun winter event is absolutely jam-packed with chilly weather fun. This epic outdoor party offers fun for the whole family including bon fires, live music, food vendors, games and a beer garden. Simply put; this is where you need to be on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground. For more event information, click HERE.

Credit: Soldotna Parks & Recreation, Facebook

Credit: Soldotna Parks & Recreation, Facebook

5 – Winter King Salmon Tournament in Homer
Held every year at the end of winter during the month of March, the Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament is the place where angling addicts go to reel in massive king salmon from the saltwater shores in Kachemak Bay. This one-day tournament awards tens of thousands of dollars in prize money to the largest kings caught, with the top earners being in the first, second and third place spot. This event has grown to an enormous size over the years and is one of the most anticipated annual fishing tournaments on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground. In fact, in 2016 over 1500 fisherman and 480 boats competed. For more event information, click HERE.

Credit: Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament, Facebook

Credit: Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament, Facebook

6 – Taste of the Kenai in Soldotna
This is a culinary experience that is sure to delight your taste-buds and overwhelm your senses. Enjoy sampling a variety of foods and drinks from local businesses all over the Kenai Peninsula, while taking part in the raffle and silent auction.  KPTMC created this event to highlight the unique culinary experiences on the Kenai Peninsula, and it has grown to be one of the most anticipated culinary events of the year. The Taste of the Kenai is held every year in March and rotates locations in the central Kenai Peninsula area. This year it will be located at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on March 31, 2017. For more event information and to buy your tickets today, click HERE.

Credit: The Kenai, Alaska's Playground, Facebook

Credit: The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground, Facebook

7 – Christmas Comes to Kenai
Kick off your winter season each year with this incredible event hosted by the Kenai Visitor & Cultural Center. The fun starts the day after Thanksgiving in November and includes a wow-worthy parade, fun with Santa and his elves, craft fair, bonfire, yummy goodies and hot cocoa, followed by the grand finale fireworks in the evening. This is the best way to dive right into the magic of the season on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground. For more event information, click HERE.

Credit: Peninsula Clarion

Credit: Peninsula Clarion

8 – Tsalteshi Trails Ski-for-Women Event in Soldotna
While the name of this fun Nordic skiing event might make you think that it’s just for women, you’re wrong! Everyone is invited to join in on the awesome outdoor action. Dress up in the wildest outfit you can find and make your way to Tsalteshi Trails on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground to enjoy a skiing event on Super Bowl Sunday. The event generally begins at 11am so you’ll be back home in time for kick-off. For more event information, click HERE.

Credit: Tsalteshi Trails, Facebook

Credit: Tsalteshi Trails, Facebook

9 – Movie in the Park at Soldotna Creek Park
It doesn’t get more Alaskan than this on The Kenai! Grab the whole family and head over to Soldotna Creek Park to enjoy a movie outside underneath the dark winter sky. Organized by the Soldotna Parks & Recreation Department, attendees should expect to bundle up and dress for cold weather while they enjoy warm cocoa, hot pizza and unlimited outdoor fun. Each winter there are four outdoor movie events to look forward to, with varying times and dates each year. For more event information, click HERE.

Credit: Soldotna Parks & Recreation, Facebook

Credit: Soldotna Parks & Recreation, Facebook

10 – Homer Winter Carnival  
Alaska’s halibut fishing capital of the world is a fun destination to visit, no matter what time of year it is. The fun carnival festivities are held on the second weekend in February of each year and offer the perfect solution for beating those pesky winter blues on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground. For more event information, click HERE.

Credit: Active Rain

Credit: Active Rain

11 – Winter Wildlands Alliance Backcountry Film Festival in Seward
Seward’s Nordic Ski Club offers the perfect way to get jazzed about winter from the cozy comforts of an indoor theatre. If you live in this region on The Kenai, be sure that you don’t miss this incredible viewing event with a tasty pot-luck to go along with it. For more event information, click HERE.

Credit: WinterWildlands.org

Credit: WinterWildlands.org

12 – Torchlight Parade & Fireworks on New Years Eve – Girdwood
We’ll keep this short and sweet; Alyeska Resort is exactly where you need to be on New Years Eve each year. The epic fun that you’ll have both participating in the parade down the slopes and viewing the incredible fireworks show is simply unmatched. While it might not be located directly on The Kenai, we can’t say enough great things about these wonderfully action-packed festivites. For more event information, click HERE.

Credit: Alyeska Resort

Credit: Alyeska Resort

Credit: Alyeska Resort

Credit: Alyeska Resort

13 – Peninsula Winter Games in Soldotna
Held in January of each year, kiddos and entire families flock to the festivities at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex to burn off all that extra cooped-up winter energy. Hosted by the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce, there is no denying that this super-fun winter event on The Kenai is one that you will completely regret missing. Enjoy games, contests, tournaments, fireworks and so much more. For more event information, click HERE.

Credit: Nikki OConnor

Credit: Nikki OConnor

14 – Holiday Weekend in Seward  
Generally held on the first weekend in December, this fun holiday bash is a blast that Seward residents on The Kenai look forward to each and every year. This old fashioned holiday festival includes local bazaars and craft shows, fun at the Alaska SeaLife Center and a glorious Christmas Tree lighting ceremony in the evening hours. For more event information, click HERE.

Credit: Seward.com

Credit: Seward.com

15 – Alaska Railroad Holiday Trains
The Alaska Railroad Holiday Train kicks off in Alaska’s largest city of Anchorage and winds down the stunningly beautiful Turnagain Arm towards The Kenai. These excursions depart on a three separate Saturdays in December and have AM and PM departure times. The experience that you will have is so magical that it will likely become a cherished family tradition. Bring the kids and enjoy sweet treats while visiting with Santa Claus and his happy, friendly elves. For more event information, click HERE.

Credit: Alaska Railroad, Facebook

Credit: Alaska Railroad, Facebook

16 – Christmas in the Park in Sodotna
Gather up your friends and family and head to Soldotna Creek Park on a weekend early in December to enjoy the spectacular tree-lighting festival. Enjoy cookies, cocoa, chatting with Santa Claus, a Christmas movie in the park and a spectacular tree-lighting event at the end of the night. This is a sure-fire way to plunge yourself right into the magic of the holiday season on The Kenai. For more event information, click HERE.

Credit: Soldotna Creek Park, Facebook

Credit: Soldotna Creek Park, Facebook

17 – Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center Fat Bike Event
The first annual Fat Tire Bike Event was held in January of 2017 at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage, and we have a feeling that it’ll be around for quite some time to come. Load up the kiddos or bring a group of your friends with you and enjoy biking around the snowy grounds while observing all the beautiful wildlife. It’s impossible not to have fun at this special place. For more event information, click HERE.

Credit: Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Facebook

Credit: Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Facebook

Did we miss any of your favorites? If so, let us know and we’ll be happy to add them to the list!

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It’s Impossible Not To Fall In Love With The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

Leave Alaska’s largest city of Anchorage and head down to The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground to enjoy the most fun and exciting place in all of the last frontier. On your way down after you pass Girdwood and right before the Whittier turnoff is this magical place known as the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. AWCC is ‘dedicated to preserving Alaska’s wildlife through conservation, education and quality animal care.’ Many animals here are rehabilitated before being re-introduced to the wild, while others look so happy that they will probably never want to leave.

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The first thing we noticed was all of the little attention-to-detail features. The wildlife theme was carried about from start to finish (and every single place in between). We were also pleasantly surprised by how kind and educated the entire staff was (literally, everyone). Everyone was so nice and helpful and most importantly – enthused! To hear their experiences first hand and feel their love and dedication for the animals was so spectacular. This is truly one of the most incredible places in the entire 49th state.

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Next we pulled up to the toll both area where we pay to enter. I believe it was $12.50 per person (adult) of which the money goes back to help feed and take care of the animals at the conservation center. Pretty good deal if you as us! We couldn’t help but love the wooden bear carvings as the sign that showed us all of the animals we were about to see, yippie!

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As we pulled around to find a parking spot (which was hard – the place was totally packed), we noticed the bears over to the right. So of course, that was our first stop. BEARS! Eeeeek!

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The observation bridge through the bear habitat was packed with people that were just like us – totally fascinated by the enormous mammals.

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At one point in time all three bears gathered perfectly into the photo frame while the nibbled on grass and explored their backyard for all of us to swoon over.

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The littlest of the three brown bears was actually the oldest (as told by one of the staff). We had to snap a photo because she was looking mighty good for her age!

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On the other side were a couple of black bears. They were pretty much basking in the sun and completely ignoring all of the tourists that were gushing over how cute they are.

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At one point in time this cutie woke up for a picture. As you can see, he is totally out of it. Shortly thereafter he went right back to sleep and continued ignoring us.

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Next we headed over to check out the Musk Ox in the distance.

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There was a great deal of education information about these ice age creatures and we were sure to get in plenty of reading while viewing them in the distance.

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These stoic animals have such a strong and impressive disposition. Just look at that view… Alaska at it’s finest!

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As you will soon find out from the countless photos below, we were kind of obsessed with the Sitka Black-tailed Deer.

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The deer and elk were both so fun to observe. Some moved slowly while dining on grass while other just basked in the warm sun.

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And of course in true AWCC fashion, the informative signs provided us with a great deal of information including diet, size, weigh, habitat and reproduction.

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In this photo you can (sort of) see a tiny little baby nestling next to the center tree. The babies were so adorable it made it very tough to leave. You could truly just sit and stare at them all day long.

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We also really enjoyed seeing how these beautiful animals all gathered together like one big happy family. With the tall snow-capped mountains in the background, it made for the perfect photo-op.

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We stopped for a good amount of time to take in the wood bison roaming about in the incredibly large (contained) field area.

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These two (below) foraged on some grass and contemplated making a move to the other side to join the rest of the group.

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The big guy was the first to cross to the other side, but first had to stop for a drink along the way.

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Next we made a quick stop to admire the flower garden that doubled as a fork in the road.

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We headed over to check out the moose and the small barn-like building with critters inside.

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There is great information about moose, the climates they live in and how there antlers grow and shed.

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The moose were just chillen out inside enjoying the cool shade in the building. Those antlers are beautiful (and they look so soft)!

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On the other side was a couple smaller critters hanging out and enjoying a neat little space.

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We snapped a fun photo of this small red fox posing for the camera and taking in the beautiful mountain view.

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As we continued our tour inside the open barn area we came across this cool musk ox skull. Pretty fascinating history behind it as you can read below.

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Displayed on the wall inside is this massive wood bison hid with information about it. It was actually quite soft to the touch and we would imagine it would keep you very, very warm on a chilly Alaska night.

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On the way out we hopped back in the truck and took a journey by the caribou viewing area.

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Otherwise known as “reindeer” – these animals are incredible to observe. And check out those beautiful velvety racks, simply stunning!

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And in perfectly fitting Alaska fashion – an Alaska flag on the way out. Next to a reindeer cutout, of course!

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But wait, there is more! On the other side – an American flag. The best of both worlds collide at the entrance/exit of the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. We love the little details and as we said before, this place doesn’t leave a single stone unturned.

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Be sure to put this magical place on your bucket list before summer is over and winter rolls around. It truly is a place that guarantees endless smiles as you fall in love with the incredible amounts of wildlife that roam the last frontier.

All photos above are taken by Courtney Stanley and copyright of Loomis Sage Marketing with sole usage rights granted to KPTMC. If you’re interested in using any, please inquire with us directly.