Run with reindeer, watch sled dog mushing, admire snow sculptures, enjoy carnival rides, and laugh at the silliness of a melodrama at the annual Fur Rendezvous Festival in Anchorage. This longtime celebration, known locally as Fur Rondy, has it all.
Fur Rendezvous started in 1936 as a celebration at the tail end of the long and brutal winter. A prominent Anchorage citizen decided to start a festival that coincided with trappers returning to sell the pelts collected during the previous months. The three day festival was mainly a sports tournament, with competitions including skiing, hockey, and a children’s sled dog race. Since those humble beginnings, Rondy has grown to a festival that last a week and a half and includes quirky happenings like the running of the reindeer and a melodrama. The festival has also maintained its roots and still features a fur auction.
Fur Rondy runs from late February to early March each year in downtown Anchorage. Below are a few of the festival happenings.
Fur Rondy Open World Championship
Sprint mushing at its finest. Watch teams of the fastest sled dogs from around the world compete for a cash purse in this three-day race. Teams start at Fourth Avenue and D Street in downtown Anchorage, then speed through a 25-mile course that wends through Anchorage neighborhoods and parks. Repeat the excitement for three days and a total of 75 miles!
View the four-legged athletes from one of several viewing points around the city.
Running of the Reindeer
This race likely gets more attention than any other Fur Rondy happening. It’s a goofy, and less dangerous, spin on the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. Participants line up on Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage and get a head start running a few blocks before a herd of reindeer is released. The antlered animals charge through the crowd to the end of the course. Proceeds from the race support Toys for Tots.
Fur Rondy carnival
Who doesn’t love Ferris wheels and funnel cake? The carnival is good old-fashioned fun and runs daily throughout the Rendezvous.
For three decades, Alaska Sound Celebration, an Anchorage-based, all-female a cappella chorus, has created this fun and popular show. Chorus members write the play, build the set, make the costumes, and perform. They do it all, and they do it well. Each year’s show is built around a new story, and it’s always fun and wacky. Audience members get to take part by slinging popcorn at performers for added comedic effect.
The melodrama regularly sells out, so be sure to get a ticket early if you’d like to attend. Organizers canceled the 2022 show, but the show plans to return in 2023.
Watch artists hew frozen masterpieces from 8-foot cubes of snow. The competition field is in downtown by Ship Creek, and visitors are invited to cast votes for the People’s Choice Award. Winners from this event go on to represent Alaska at a national competition.