What not to miss at Celebration 2016

With 50 dance groups, 30 events and about a dozen different venues, Celebration 2016 may seem a little daunting. For first time attendees, here’s a sampling of what not to miss over the four days of festivities celebrating Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian culture:


One People Canoe Society welcome ceremony
Sandy Beach
Wed., 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (estimated time)

Welcome the One People Canoe Society paddlers as they arrive at Sandy Beach on Wednesday. A week ago, about a dozen canoes each carrying 10 people set off from surrounding communities Kake, Ketchikan, Sitka, Angoon, Hoonah and Yakutat to paddle to Celebration 2016. They’ve braved the wind, rain, wet clothes and camped out in the elements. Hundreds of people gather in Douglas for this free event. 

Grand Entrance Processional
Willoughby Street from Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall to Centennial Hall
Wed., 6 p.m.

Celebration Parade
From Marine Park to Centennial Hall
Sat., 9 a.m.

These are free, community-wide opportunities to watch Celebration’s dance groups sing, drum and dance through parts of downtown. Groups will be wearing traditional regalia.

A panoramic photo for Celebration participants will be taken following the parade at Centennial Hal at noon. 

Dance performances
Centennial Hall and Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall
Thurs. and Fri., 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Saturday, 12:45-6 p.m.

More than 2,000 dancers from Alaska, Canada and the Lower 48 will take to the stages at Centennial Hall and the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall during Celebration 2016. Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian dance groups dress in traditional regalia and share their ancient songs and dances.

This year’s lead dance group is the Git-Hoan Dancers. The Tsimshian dance group, founded by member David A. Boxley, will perform 6:35 p.m. Thursday at the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall and 8:25 p.m. Friday at Centennial Hall. (Read more about the Git-Hoan Dancers in this week’s Capital City Weekly.)

Also of interest, Sealaska Heritage Institute is hosting the O’Shea-Ryan Irish Dancers from Australia as a way to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding. The Celtic dance group performs 7:10 p.m. Thursday at Centennial Hall; 5:10 p.m. Friday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall; and 7:15 p.m. Friday at Centennial Hall.

A Celebration pass is required to attend the dance performances. 

Northwest Coast Juried Art Show
Nathan Jackson Gallery in the Walter Soboleff Building
Thurs. to Sat., 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

View the best of the best of Northwest Coast art, including Ravenstail and Chilkat weaving, skin and fur sewing, basketry and painting. Sealaska Heritage Institute’s eighth biennial juried art show, “Art and At.óow,” includes 36 pieces from 22 artists. Awards are given out for carving and sculpture, sewing, weaving and two-dimensional and relief carving. Top prize is Best in Show.

The award ceremony is Wed., 4 p.m. at the Shuká Hít (clan house) in the Walter Soboleff Building. That event and the juried art show require a Celebration Pass or $5 admission. 

Juried Youth Art Exhibit
Juneau Arts and Culture Center
Thurs. to Sat, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

This new Celebration event will showcase about 35 works from young Northwest Coast artists from around the region, including one piece of art made by 61 Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School sixth graders. This is SHI’s effort to increase the number of young artists making high quality pieces to share with the public. Prizes range from $200 to $500 for middle and high school categories.

The award ceremony is Wed., 4 p.m. at the Shuká Hít (clan house) in the Walter Soboleff Building. That event and the show require a Celebration Pass or $5 admission.

Native food contests

Taste samples and decide who’s gathered and prepared the best black seaweed during the Seaweed Contest, or watch as contestants whip up bitter berries into a tasty dessert during the Soapberry Contest. Prizes range from $100 to $500.

The Seaweed Contest is 6-8 p.m. Thursday in the Elder’s Room at Centennial Hall. A Celebration Pass is required to attend.

The Soapberry Contest takes place 11 a.m. to noon Friday at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center. It’s a free event.

Northwest Coast Art Market
Sealaska Plaza and Juneau Arts & Culture Center
Thurs. to Sat., 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

This is an opportunity to buy authentic Native art and Native art supplies from more than 40 artists. Items include jewelry, carvings, beading, textiles and so much more. Thousands of people will be circulating through the market’s various tables at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center and Sealaska Plaza over three days. The market is free to visit.

Music performances

Celebration 2016 features musical performances aside from the ones happening during the dance performances.

Tsimshian jazz pianist Chantil Dukart, a Miami-based artist who grew up in Colorado and Alaska, will perform a mix of funk, jazz, Motown and R&B from 7-7:30 p.m. Thursday at Shuká Hít (clan house) at the Walter Soboleff Building. This requires a Celebration pass or $5 admission.

Enjoy a free outdoor concert by the Juneau Symphony. Members of the local orchestra will play excerpts from their summer pops concert, “A Tribute to the Film Score” at 3 p.m. Friday at Marine Park.


Celebration, organized by Sealaska Heritage Institute, takes place in Juneau every two years. The theme this year is “Haa Shuká: Weaving Traditional Knowledge into our Future.”

Tickets go on sale at 9 a.m. today at Centennial Hall. Four-day passes are $30 for adults, $15 for elders and youth ages 7-12; one-day tickets $15 for adults, $10 for elders and youth. Children 6 years old and under are free.

• Contact reporter Lisa Phu at 523-2246 or lisa.phu@juneauempire.com.


Related stories:

Canoes to arrive for Celebration kickoff

Celebration to cause street closures, traffic delays

Celebration calendar of events

Celebration: In Memorian

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