The day has rapidly grown from a local celebration to a widely renowned occasion and each successive year attracts more guests from all parts of Alaska and the Lower 48.
By proclamation of the mayor, all males are urged to grow beards and all women to dress in the styles of 1867 for the festival period.
The festival spans several days and typically includes: the costume ball, with prizes for the best period costumes; a concert with a variety of local and visiting performers, usually including the Gaaja Heen dancers, the New Archangel Dancers, and a U.S. Army Band; long distance races; an air-sea rescue demonstratation by the Coast Guard; open house on board a Coast Guard Cutter or Naval Vessel; and a tea at the Pioneer's Home.
On Alaska Day itself, many dignitaries and representative groups from all branches of the armed forces join in a memorial service at the Sitka National Cemetery and in a parade through Sitka's business district. Local school bands, marching units, and costumed celebrants also participate in the parade, which ends near the site of the major event of the festival, the re-enactment of the 1867 ceremony atop Castle Hill.