Small town Palmer, Alaska, is renowned for the way it celebrates the run up to Christmas. This year’s three-day Colony Christmas event is slightly different, but the historic farming community is determined to light up the streets and the sky with Christmas cheer.

The annual event runs Dec. 11-13 and includes a downtown parade and fireworks show on Dec. 12. Throughout the family-friendly festival the town will be decked in lights and teeming with Christmas carolers, horse drawn sleigh rides, a reindeer train, photos and hot cocoa with Santa and a 5K race.

Other outside activities include disc golf, an outdoor skating rink, antler and snowball toss competitions for kids and a Christmas cornhole tournament. In addition, there’s the “smoosh race” which entails teams of four strapping into a single set of eight-foot skies and racing through the town – costumes are encouraged.

Getting to the heart and soul of Christmas, one of the newest exhibits is a high-end “Nativity of Jesus” scene in the town center that includes baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph and other classic figures commemorating the birth of Christ. This private collection is being made available for public display by St. Michael Church in Palmer.

There will also be opportunities to buy or bid on Christmas trees, enjoy free hot cocoa, order food from an assortment of food truck vendors and slake your thirst at the grand opening of Bleeding Heart Brewery.

For those willing to spend a few bucks, the Alaska State Fairgrounds is hosting The Christmas Factory, a holiday-themed event that features Santa and his elves in the mailroom, a toy factory, sleigh rides on Santa’s toy topped sled, cookies and cocoa with Mrs. Claus and much more. The Fairground will also feature “Bright Up the Night,” the largest drive through holiday light display in Alaska. The one-mile display spans the entire length of the fairgrounds and is synced to classic Christmas music.

Colony Christmas is sponsored by the Greater Palmer Chamber of Commerce, but includes participation by area churches, nonprofits and other groups who add to the celebration. Due to COVID concerns the Chamber cancelled its arts and crafts fair at the Palmer Train Depot and the Mat-Su Borough gymnasium and also scratched its indoor movie show.

All other events, however, are still on.

“You will still see your old favorites, the Parade of Lights and the fireworks extravaganza, along with some wonderful new outdoor events,” said Palmer Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ailis Vann. “We look forward to seeing Colony Christmas patrons geared up and ready for a fun weekend of festive outdoor fun.”

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Alaskans invited to celebrate three-day Christmas fest in Palmer

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.