There's a lot going on in Minneapolis the next few weeks, thanks to a bunch of creative folks and sporty types who make it fun to be outdoors.
Events to catch: Jan. 22, Kite Festival on Lake Harriet. Jan. 22-23 and 29-30 and Feb. 5-6, Art Shanty Projects on Lake Harriet. Jan, 29, Art Sled Rally in Powderhorn Park. Feb. 5-6, City of Lakes Loppet.
Details: For more, see Chain of Lakes in Minneapolis.
Past fast plans: Dubuque's views, Cocooning in a cozy cabin, Merry holidays in Minneapolis, Christmas in Chicago, Sampling in Iowa's Amanas
Janboree in Waukesha, Wis. The fest in this Milwaukee suburb includes ice sculpting, Ojibwe snow-snake games, a penguin-egg hunt, a candlelight hike and tobogganing on the lighted run in Lowell Park. Through Jan. 23.
Lake Harriet Kite Festival in Minneapolis. In addition to kite-flying, this event on popular Lake Harriet includes horse-drawn wagon rides, kids' ice fishing, arts, music and roasted marshmallows. Check out the Art Shanty Projects, too. Jan. 22.
World Snow Sculpting Championship in Stillwater, Minn. Snow-sculpting teams from around the world will compete in Lowell Park. Jan. 1823.
Winterfest in Amana, Iowa. Go on a beer and wine walk or compete in ham-throwing, log-sawing, wreath-tossing, the Amana Freezer Run/Walk or for the best beard. There will also be ice sculpting and chainsaw-carving. Jan. 22
For more, see our Events Calendar.
There's a reason why winter is the favorite season of many photographers it's gorgeous.
You've seen this region's icicle-draped sea caves, volcanic Great Lakes waves and dancing northern lights on social media. Now get out there and enjoy the scenery yourselves.
Snowshoe up frozen river canyons, barrel through the woods behind a team of huskies and go to bock festivals at breweries. Learn to ice fish, track wolves and look for bald eagles.
In winter, ice comes with the territory. You can curse it or you can play with it.
Kids know how. Climbers and skaters know how. And photographers adore it.
Having fun with ice also is a good way to cope with a winter that drags on, endlessly, into April.
That's when gigantic heaps of shards pile up on Lake Superior and ice storms create glistening tableaux that make photographers come running.
In the Upper Midwest, travel can be competitive.
Many festivals are so big and so fun that everyone wants to go. If you do, too, you'll have to act fast to stay ahead of the crowds.
And sometimes, you also need to know when not to visit a certain area, so you can avoid sold-out hotels or sky-high rates.
If you do only one thing outdoors in winter, do it by candlelight.
Nothing is more magical than a forest full of flickering lights. I got hooked when I skied in Minnesota's Mille Lacs Kathio State Park.
The snow is back a lot of it.
You can whine about it and hide indoors, or you can go out and have fun. Ever thought about cross-country skiing? That's fun.
If you haven't tried the sport, here's how to get started.
It does take a while to get good at it, but it's fun right from the beginning.