In Sitka, the 4th of July is more than just a single day of celebration; it’s a week-long event that transforms the entire community into a vibrant festival. From parades to delicious food, to swimming in the Pacific ocean, here’s a look at the top things locals love to do to ring in the 4th of July.


Attend the 4th of July Parade

The 4th of July Parade, hosted by the Sitka Chamber of Commerce, is a much-anticipated event that typically takes place in the early to mid-afternoon on July 4th. Each year, the parade showcases a new patriotic theme, with nods to Sitka’s deep-rooted love for its community.

Locals and businesses pull out all the stops, creating elaborate and festive decorations that capture the spirit of the theme. Be sure to bring a bag, as the candy tossing is no joke here. Collecting treats becomes a fun and competitive tradition for all ages!

For the latest parade theme and details, keep an eye on the Sitka Chamber’s website.

Photo: The Daily Sitka Sentinel, winner of Best of Parade in the 2023 “From Sea To Shining Sea” parade. (Photo by Daily Sitka Sentinel)


Watch the Fireworks over the Sitka Channel

The community fireworks show in Sitka is a must-see event, though it isn’t always held on the 4th of July itself. When planning your trip, be sure to check the Sitka Chamber’s 4th of July week calendar of events to ensure you’re in town for the spectacular display. Watching fireworks over the Sitka Channel with the Pacific Ocean and Mt. Edgecumbe in the background is an experience you won’t want to miss.

Put on yearly by the Hames Corporation, a beloved family-owned local business, the fireworks usually take place on the closest Friday or Saturday to the 4th of July. Plan to grab an afternoon cup of coffee, as the fireworks typically start around 11:30 pm. Although Sitka isn’t the land of the midnight sun, the summer nights are long, and it doesn’t get dark enough for fireworks until around 11:00 pm in early July.

The best spots to watch the fireworks are throughout downtown Sitka along the water. Some favorite spots to watch from are:


  • Totem Square

    Totem Square is located at the end of Lincoln Street near ANB Harbor. This small, grassy park has the perfect vantage point for viewing across the Sitka Channel and seeing the fireworks. Make sure to snag a spot a little early though, as this spot is one of the most popular among locals and visitors and will fill up fast.


  • The O’Connell Bridge Parking Lot

    The O’Connell Bridge parking lot area is small but mighty, as this spot has a beautiful view of the surrounding islands in the Sitka Sound. Make sure to secure a spot early here, as it’s small space leaves limited room for parking and good viewing points.


  • Thompsen Harbor

    Thompsen Harbor is a large parking lot with another great view of the fireworks. Located just off the Halibut Point Road entrance to Katlian Street, this is a hotspot for fireworks viewing and tailgate BBQing.


Photo: Locals enjoying the fireworks over Thompsen Harbor


Celebrate Community

Sitka is a land of tradition, and the 4th of July is no exception. Beloved community events happen year after year, making the holiday week a blast. Sitkans have a deep-rooted love for their community, and welcome visitors to take part in the joy! Here are some of the community’s favorite reoccurring events:


  • Older & Interesting Car Parade

    In addition to the community 4th of July Parade, a collection of unique car owners come together for the Older and Interesting Car Parade each year. This parade usually happens earlier in the morning before the community parade, and the procession of cars makes it’s way around the entirety of Sitka, from one end of town to the other. Watch out for an impressive collection of cars passing through!

Photo: Jeff Budd driving his 1973 Checker. Jeff organizes the Older and Interesting Car Parade each year!


  • Fishing for Cats Annual Barn Dance

    Every year, a highlight is a contra barn dance, featuring lively tunes from the band Fishing For Cats. Bring your best dancing shoes and a partner to learn a traditional American folk dance. No experience or dancing talent necessary, just come ready to have fun!


  • Old Time Game Booths

    A local favorite during the festivities is the Old Time Carnival Games, organized by the Sitka Historical Society & Museum. This event features traditional carnival booths offering a variety of games with prizes, including children’s favorites like potato sack races held right after the community parade. Food booths serve up classic fair treats, while lively street dances add to the festive atmosphere. Located at Totem Square in the days leading up to and on the 4th of July, pop by for some classic carnival fun.


  • Watch the Annual Duck Race

    The Sitka Rotary Club puts on an Annual Duck Race, and it’s a seriously big deal. Each year, 6,000 rubber ducks are released into Granite Creek, which flows through the Halibut Point Recreation Site. (Rest assured, all the ducks are collected and reused annually!). The first duck to cross the finish line wins, and the competition is fierce.

    Promotion for the Duck Race is spearheaded year-round by a cherished community figure known as the “Duckfather.” With numerous cash prizes up for grabs, the excitement runs high, and Sitka takes great pride in ensuring the event is a success. The ducks usually sell out every year. To get in on the fun, visit the Halibut Point Recreation Site during the race and cheer on your favorite duck!

Photo: Collecting ducks from the 2023 Duck Race (Photo by Daily Sitka Sentinel)


  • Braveheart Bowls and the Corgi Convoy

    The Braveheart Volunteers is a collection of community members dedicated to providing companionship to those facing loneliness and grief. Their biggest fundraiser of the year is a 4th of July tradition, the Braveheart Bowls. This fundraiser showcases over 300 beautiful, locally-handcrafted ceramic bowls up for sale. The fundraiser also usually includes sweet treats and delicious bowls of soup up for sale as well. Stop by the Braveheart Bowls to see a beautiful collection of local art and grab a quick bite.

    A delightful new tradition is the Corgi Convoy, which coincides with the Braveheart Bowls fundraiser. This event sees local corgi owners parading through downtown Sitka, bringing with them a wave of charm and cuteness. Be on the lookout for this adorable herd of corgis, ready to meet and greet everyone they encounter!


Chamber of Commerce Calendar of Events

For more information on the events above and to see what else is happening throughout the week, check out the Sitka Chamber’s 4th of July week calendar of events, available at each year.


Eat Delicious Food

Elks Booths

Each year, the Sitka Elks Lodge sets up fair food booths in the days surrounding the 4th of July. This local hotspot is the perfect place to grab a classic burger and fries, indulge in a corndog, or cool off with a refreshing snow cone to start your 4th of July afternoon off right.

Food Trucks and Pop-Ups

It’s no secret that Sitka’s seen a massive surge in our food carts and trucks. The 4th of July is the perfect time to enjoy a to-go meal, made fresh from a local food truck. Wander through downtown Sitka and discover a diverse array of food pop-ups tucked into every corner and alleyway. Choose your favorite and treat yourself to a delicious lunch while soaking in the festive atmosphere.


Photo: Chowing down at Enoki Eatery

Enjoy the Outdoors

You’ve got to love the outdoors to live in Alaska, and Sitkans are no exception to that. Even though Sitka’s located in a rainforest, that doesn’t stop locals from getting out and enjoying the outdoors, especially during summer and the 4th of July. Here’s some of the best ways to enjoy your holiday in Sitka like a true local:


Get On The Water

A unique way to enjoy the day would be to take a private day trip out on the water. Hire a wildlife boat tour to take you out whale watching and enjoy a picnic lunch on the boat. Cruising the waters is a popular local pastime on the 4th of July.

Sometimes larger, ticketed group cruises like the annual Sitka Maritime Heritage Society 4th Cruise are happening over the week. Keep watch on the Sitka Chamber’s 4th of July week calendar of events to see if there’s any group cruises available for purchase!


Go Camping

Sitka and the surrounding area offer a plethora of campsites and cabins for rent, providing ample options to enjoy the 4th of July immersed in nature. Road-accessible campsites are available at Starrigavan Campground, the Starrigavan Cabin, Sawmill Creek Campground, all popular choices. If you’re planning to camp in Sitka, especially in a cabin requiring a water taxi, thorough research is essential. Ensure you pack extra supplies of food and water to be well-prepared for your adventure.

Photo: Relaxing at the Starrigavan Cabin


BBQ Cook Out

While hosting a BBQ is a quintessential 4th of July tradition across the country, doing so during a vacation in Alaska adds a unique local flair to the experience. Rent a shelter at Pioneer Park (conveniently located right next to a grocery store!) or the Halibut Point Recreation Site, pick up firewood and burgers from the local grocery store, and spend the afternoon nestled in the forest with a beachside view. It’s the perfect way to savor the holiday while immersing yourself in Sitka’s natural beauty.


Take a Dip

Is it really the 4th of July without a good swim? We don’t think so! If there’s a bit of sunshine and it’s over 60 degrees, you can bet to see Sitka locals swimming and enjoying the summer days around the 4th of July. If you’re brave enough, this is a surefire way to enjoy the 4th – Alaskan style. Our favorite swimming holes are:

  • Sandy Beach
    Sandy Beach, located approximately three miles from downtown Sitka along Halibut Point Road is the main beach used for swimming. As one of the only spots in town that has a sandy beach when the tide rolls out, this spot fills up quick with locals and visitors alike enjoying the crisp waters and sand between their toes.
  • Heart Lake
    Hike up to Heart Lake utilizing the Thimbleberry/Heart Lake Trailhead, or access through a shorter hike from Blue Lake Road. Pack your swimsuit and a picnic lunch and enjoy this calm and serene lake surrounded by mountains.
  • Halibut Point Recreation Site
    Halibut Point Recreation Site is a hotspot for day use by locals and visitors. Although there’s not a sandy area to perch on while you swim, the rocky terrain is flat and navigable when the tide rolls out. Make sure you bring water shoes if you plan on swimming here, as bare feet can be vulnerable to the rugged rocks along the beach and in the ocean.

Photo: Locals enjoying a dip in the Pacific

Go For A Hike

One of the easiest ways to enjoy the nature Sitka has to offer is by taking a hike. With over 50 miles of gorgeous, well-maintained trails, there’s a great option for everyone. Check out our article on figuring out which trail is best for you, and use our hiking essentials article to help you pack!

Sitka Trail Works also often hosts guided hikes through select trails around the 4th. Watch the Sitka Chamber Calendar of Events to join in on these group experiences.

Photo: Soaking in sunshine and views on a Sitka trail

Celebrating the 4th of July in Sitka goes beyond just marking a holiday; it’s an invitation to immerse yourself in the heart of our close-knit community and embrace the unique small-town festival atmosphere. Whether you’re cheering on the parade, staying up late for the fireworks, or exploring the natural beauty on a hike or boat tour, every moment reflects the spirit of camaraderie and joy that Sitka embodies. If you’re already visiting over the 4th of July or you’re still planning your trip, experiencing our community celebration firsthand is sure to reveal what makes it so special, no matter how you choose to join in.