Sitka, Alaska

A music festival in Sitka Sound is a hidden gem for cruisers of Alaska's Inside Passage.

Sitka, Alaska

Duane L. Barr

A bow is drawn, and the strings of the artist’s 300-year-old cello reverberate; music soars outward over mountain peaks and the countless islands dotting stunning Sitka Sound. This image comes alive every summer in June at the Sitka Summer Music Festival.

There are thousands of breathtakingly beautiful cruising delights along Alaska’s Inside Passage, but Sitka’s music festival is a little-known gem, a rare gathering of world-renowned musicians playing exquisite chamber music in a shoreside performance hall with Sitka’s harbor as the backdrop. Sailors make up a significant segment of the audience.

Festival events include an all-you-can-eat crab feed, served complete with candelabras at dockside tables. There’s a music-related movie night; this past year, they showed The Red Violin and, of all things, True Lies. One of the really bad guys in the latter film was cellist Armen Ksajikian, who also played in the orchestra for the movie’s music. At the music festival, he told hilarious stories about how he was chosen to be in the film.

Not far from Sitka are the hot pools of Baranof Warm Springs, which are therapy from the gods.

Cruisers should put Sitka, and its Sitka Summer Music Festival, on their list of destinations. I know I’ll be back.

Duane L. Barr is from Center Island, San Juan Islands.