Alaska Day is celebrated annually on October 18 in our 49th state, marking the official transfer of land from Russia to the United States in 1867. On October 11, a week-long celebration begins in Sitka, where the purchase took place. During Russian rule in the 1800's, Sitka was a bustling colony and an affluent center of commerce known as the Paris of the Pacific. In 1917, Alaska Day became a state holiday.
This year's Alaska Day celebration in Sitka salutes the 50th Anniversary of the Alaska Marine Highway System. Events begin October 11 and are held throughout the week, including foot and kayak races; museum openings; barn dance and variety show; music and dance performances; and cultural food tastings. Alaska Marine Highway activities include a trivia contest about the marine highway on October 16; an open house aboard the M/V Taku at the Sitka Ferry Terminal on October 17; and the official Alaska Day parade and transfer ceremony on October 18. The ceremony takes place on Castle Hill, where there will be a re-enactment of the lowering of the Russian flag and raising of the American flag. Castle Hill, a State of Alaska historic site, was originally occupied by Tlingit natives and later Russian colonists. More information about the Alaska Day activities may be found online at the Alaska Day Festival website.
Where is Sitka, Alaska?
Sitka is settled on Baranof Island, located on the outer coast of Alaska's Inside Passage. Like most Southeast Alaska communities, Sitka is accessible only by air and sea. Once in Sitka, visitors can travel by foot, taxi, tour bus, rental car, visitor trolley or bicycle for those not bringing their car or RV via the Alaska Marine Highway ferry. The downtown area is centrally located and most points of interest are within walking distance of one another. -- Sitka Convention & Visitors Bureau