Fairbanks is the home of the 2016 World Ice Art Championships, the largest ice sculpting competition in the world. Held annually since 1988, the World Ice Art Championships has grown to a month-long event featuring more than 90 teams from around the world. Approximately 45,000 visitors come to the ice art park to watch sculptors work around the clock to turn solid blocks of ice into art. Sculptors use over four million pounds of "Arctic Diamond" ice which is harvested from a large pond nearby. Arctic Diamond ice freezes quickly and thickly in Alaska's Interior and is clear enough to read a newspaper through a four-foot ice block. The blocks measure 3' x 8' x 5' and weigh four to five tons. The finished sculptures in the Multi Block Classic contest can weigh as much as 20 tons and be up to 25 feet tall. The theme for the 27th Annual World Ice Art Championships, which runs through March 27, is “Drive On.”
The 43rd Annual Festival of Native Arts is another must see for visitors. Scheduled for March 3, 4 & 5, the festival provides a forum for Alaska Native groups to share their rich cultural heritages. Dance groups and artisans from Alaskan locations as distant as Hooper Bay, Atmautluak, Barrow, Juneau, Huslia, Stevens Village and Shishmaref will join with invited guests from the continental United States, Japan, Russia and Canada for diverse presentations, crafts and food booths.
While visiting Fairbanks don't forget to look up, because March is a great time for viewing the aurora borealis. Fairbanks is one of the best places on earth for experiencing the beautiful and mysterious northern lights, and if you stay three nights in Fairbanks and are actively looking, you'll have an 80% chance of seeing them. Prime viewing time is late evening through the wee hours of the morning. You can experience the aurora from a heated "aurorium" cabin, on an overnight sled dog trip, by snow cat tour to a panoramic vista, in a horse drawn sleigh, on a flight above the Arctic Circle, or simply walk outside and look up to see the captivating northern lights weave their way across the night sky. If the aurora appears in the middle of the night, many hotels offer wake-up calls so you won't miss a moment. The longer you stay, the better your chances of viewing a once in a lifetime display!
If you're in Fairbanks and have an interest or curiosity about dog mushing, you're in luck. March features a busy dog mushing schedule, which includes the Junior North American Championship Sled Dog Race from March 3-5, The Limited North American Championship Sled Dog Race from March 11-13, and the Open North American Championship Sled Dog Race from March 18-20.