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Fun In The Midnight Sun

Located just south of the Arctic Circle, Nome enjoys nearly 22 hours of daylight on the summer solstice and celebrates with the Midnight Sun Festival.

Saturday of festival weekend kicks off with a 5K run along the Bering Sea coast, with a gold nugget awaiting the first-place finisher. After the race comes the Midnight Sun Parade down Front Street; local organizations strut past a panel of wig-and-robed judges, who award cash prizes. The fun of the parade gets cut short when bad guys suddenly ride into town! In homage to Nome’s roots in the wild west and the gold rush, bandits stage a bank robbery and share their loot with candy-craving children. After the robbers are dispatched, everyone who dares takes a polar bear plunge in the Bering Sea.

The main event on festival Sunday is the Nome River Raft Race, which is exactly what it sounds like: teams race each other down the Nome River in home-built rafts. The only rule is that all crew members must be completely soaked by the time they reach the finish line! Teams embark on their rafts armed with water balloons and squirt guns, and spectators toting buckets of water line a bridge over the river to douse the racers as they pass.

As summer days grow shorter after the solstice, Alaskans work hard to prepare for the next winter, but also play hard in the sunshine while it lasts.

Image at the top: A parade takes place at the Nome Midnight Sun Festival. Photo by Cathy Rumano.

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Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge that KNOM Radio Mission is located on the customary lands of Indigenous peoples. 

Based in the Bering Strait region, KNOM broadcasts throughout the homelands of the Iñupiaq, Siberian Yup’ik, Cup’ik and Yup’ik peoples.