MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest
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January 2018  February 2018 March 2018
Sat
10
-
Thu
25

Winter Carnival

St. Paul, MN

See ice sculptures in Rice Park and snow sculptures at the Fairgrounds, go down the snow slide, compete in a jigsaw-puzzle contest, take a free fire-truck ride and watch barstool ski races and lawn-mower races.

Family Day is Feb. 3 at the Landmark Center, and there are three parades: the Moon Glow Pedestrian Jan. 25, Grande Day Jan. 27 and Vulcan Victory Torchlight Feb. 10, followed by fireworks.

Sun
4
-
Fri
26

Super Bowl Live fan festival

Minneapolis, MN

The free festival on Nicollet Mall, between 6th and 12th streets, features concerts, ice sculptures, a life-size snow globe for photos and drum and dance presentations every day at 5 p.m.

There's also an 800-foot zip line across the Mississippi River. Online tickets sold out in less than 36 hours, but some walk-up tickets will be available.

Thu
8
-
Fri
26

Restaurant Week

Chicago, IL

Time to pack on the calories: More than 370 restaurants offer three-course prix-fixe menus for $22 at brunch or lunch and $33-$44 at dinner.

Sun
4
-
Sat
27

City of Lakes Loppet

Minneapolis, MN

For recreational skiers, the highlight of this big cross-country ski festival is the Feb. 3 Luminary Loppet on Lake of the Isles, with glowing ice pillars and "ruins.'' Afterward, there's a tent party with music.

There are also classical and free-style races, ski games for children, a snow-sculpture contest and orienteering, ice-cycle, speedskating, snowshoeing and skijoring races, plus a beer garden and vendor village.

 

 

Sat
3
-
Wed
31

Winter Dance Party

Clear Lake, IA

The Surf Ballroom marks the 59th anniversary of the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, with concerts, luncheons, dance lessons and crash-site tours.

Sun
4
-
Wed
31

U.S. Snow Sculpting Championship and Winterfest

Lake Geneva, WI

Watch artists shape snow into whimsical shapes, and vote on the best ones. There's also music, a human sled-dog race, children's entertainment and helicopter rides.

Sat
3
-
Thu
1

WinterFest

Crosslake, MN

In this Brainerd Lakes area, there are horse-drawn sleigh rides, bonfires, ice car races, helicopter rides, Friday fireworks and Italian Outdoor Olympics.

Sun
4
-
Thu
1

Groundhog Days

Woodstock, IL

The 1993 movie "Groundhog Day'' was filmed in this town an hour northwest of Chicago, and it celebrates with storytelling, family games and tours of movie sites, including the 1889 Opera House, where actor Bill Murray jumped from the belfry. At 7:07 a.m. Friday, Woodstock Willie will look for his shadow.

Sun
11
-
Thu
1

Winter Festival

Ely, MN

There's a best-beard contest, snow sculpting, an arts market, fat-tire bike demos and a ride, Ely Folk School classes and a free snowshoe hike to the Hegman Petroglyphs.

Sat
3
-
Fri
2

Snowflake Ski-Jumping Tournament

Westby, WI

At the top of a hill that's the equivalent of a 41-story skyscraper, watch jumpers fly by at 55 mph. It's fun to watch because the jump is built onto the side of a coulee, and spectators can climb it and watch from the top. There are hot drinks and food at the bottom.

Knickerbocker Ice Festival

Lake Mills, WI

This town east of Madison holds a fish toss, snowball-eating contest, dad-sled race, chili cook-off and Iceberg Open golf tournament. There's ice carving and ice wine, too.

WinterFest

Rochester, MN

This southern Minnesota city offers a a cardboard sled race Jan. 28; sleigh rides, art activities, frozen turkey bowling and minigolf Feb. 3; and, on the last weekend, a polar plunge, softball, candlelight ski, snow games and downtown ice bars.

Sun
4
-
Fri
2

Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race

Bayfield, WI

Watch four races over two days and get in some skiing and snowshoeing on the side.

Winter Festival

Fish Creek, WI

This Door County village lets loose with events that include a toilet-seat throw, pie tin toss, bean-bag cannon shoot, smoosh racing and an ugly-sweater contest. There are also free trolley rides, ice carving, a fiddle contest, a snowshoe dance and fireworks.

Ice Breaker

South Haven, MI

There's an ice-carving competition in this Lake Michigan town, plus wagon rides, synchronized skating and a chili cook-off.

Magical Ice Fest

St. Joseph, MI

Watch the pros carve sculptures in this Lake Michigan town. There's also entertainment, a scavenger hunt and magic and crafts for kids.

Iola Winter Carnival

Iola, WI

This village near Waupaca offers ice carving, a lutefisk dinner, ski and snowshoe races and ski jumping.

Scandihoovian Winter Festival

Mount Horeb, WI

The festival in this town just west of Madison features such events as turkey bowling, a snowman-building contest, kick sledding, a spelling bee and a vintage snowmobile show and ride.

Duluth Ice & Mixed Fest

Duluth, MN

This annual festival in West Duluth's Quarry Park features such events as a free ice-climbing clinic for youths 12 and older, beginner and intermediate clinics for adult climbers, a fat-bike intro and presentations on mountain climbing. There's also a disc-golf course.

Sat
3

Frostbite Olympics

Algona, IA

The festival in this north-central Iowa town features snowmobile rides, ice races, snow kickball and a treasure mountain for kids.

Sun
4
-
Sat
3

Art Shanty Projects

Minneapolis, MN

This year, frozen Lake Harriet hosts two dozen artist-designed ice houses and lots of fun art antics. Check for scheduled events and ice conditions.

 

 

Madison Winter Festival

Madison, WI

The annual festival in Elver Park features cross-country skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing plus music, family games and ice and snow sculptures.

Eagle-watching festivals

Around the region

Town on rivers where eagles gather in winter offer live bird presentations, guided tours and cultural activities.

Sun
11
-
Wed
7

Frozen River Film Festival

Winona, MN

This festival shows a large selection of documentaries specializing in adventure, extreme sports and environmental issues.

Sun
11
-
Thu
8

Winter Carnival

Houghton, MI

This snow fest at Michigan Tech University includes a human dog-sled race, snow volleyball and a tug of war and ends with a torchlight parade and fireworks at Mont Ripley ski hill.

Mon
19
-
Thu
8

Polar Fest

Detroit Lakes, MN

Over two weekends, this festival features an ice palace, a snow angels competition, tubing night, an appearance by polar explorer Ann Bancroft and such events as a snowman build, fishing derby, wildlife tracking, fat-tire bike races and fireworks.

 

Sat
10
-
Fri
9

Banbury Art Crawl

Eau Claire, WI

Visit more than 100 artists at studios in the Building 13 art complex. Many will give demonstrations. There will be also music, food and art projects for children.

Sun
11
-
Sat
10

Pine Mountain Ski Jumping Tournament

Iron Mountain, MI

This Upper Peninsula town on the Wisconsin border is where the international jumpers go; it's a stop on the Continental Cup circuit.

Mon
19
-
Sat
10

Auto Show

Chicago, IL

This car show at McCormick Place is the largest in the nation and third-largest in the world.

Sun
18
-
Wed
14

Michigan Ice Fest

Munising, MI

Watch ice-climbing demos and slide shows and take clinics for beginners at spectacular Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Lake Superior.

Sat
17
-
Fri
16

Book Across the Bay

Ashland/Washburn, WI

The weekend starts with a Friday-night polka party in Ashland. On Saturday night, ski or snowshoe across Lake Superior's Chequamegon Bay on a 10-kilometer route lined by ice luminaries. If you're not too fast, fireworks will fill the sky as you're approaching Washburn; a bonfire, chili feed and blues music follow.

Sun
18
-
Fri
16

Sax Zim Bog Festival of Birds

Meadowlands, MN

Listen to programs and go on field trips to see such boreal species as evening grosbeak, northern hawk owl, gray jay and particularly snowy owls. Register early for this festival northwest of Duluth.

Sat
17

Color the Wind Kite Festival

Clear Lake, IA

This town in north-central Iowa draws kiters from eight states for its festival, the largest in the Midwest, and stunt fliers will perform routines choreographed to music.

Fire & Ice

Sturgeon Bay, WI

Ice and snow sculptors create pieces around town. There's a novice category for beginners.

Barstool Races

Drummond, WI

In this small town north of Cable, watch people careen down a hill on decorated bar stools, then stay for the chili feed.

Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival

Des Moines, IA

It's all about bacon at this festival at the Iowa Event Center, with sampling and demos followed by a concert by Smash Mouth. 

Empire Winter Fest

Empire, MI

This town on Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore offers a soup cook-off and polar plunge as well as such events as ice art, sled races and ice bowling.

Northwoods Blizzard Blast

Conover, WI

On the snowy northeast edge of Wisconsin, go on horse-drawn sleigh rides and see such events as recliner racing, ice bowling, dog-sled dashing, snowshoe baseball and snow sculpting.

Outhouse Race

Sault Ste. Marie, MI

Watch the wacky races in this Lake Superior town, "the final plop on the eastern Upper Peninsula outhouse circuit.'' They're at 2 p.m.

 

Sun
18
-
Sat
17

Winter Festival

Cedarburg, WI

In its 44th year, this festival just north of Milwaukee features bed races, ice-carving, a dog weight pull competition, an egg hunt for kids and a parade at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Sun
25
-
Thu
22

International Eelpout Festival

Walker, MN

It's fun just to wander (or drive) around Leech Lake during this event, which includes mechanical bull riding, bikini ice fishing and a beer pong tournament. Be sure to have some 'pout nuggets, which are as tasty as the fish is ugly.

American Birkebeiner

Hayward, WI

Watch the "Greatest Show on Snow,'' with races of all distances for all ages and abilities plus a ski expo, snowshoe hike, skijoring and vintage ski.

On Saturday, watch the world's best skiers on the 51-kilometer marathon (55 kilometers for classic skiers).

On Sunday, there's a ski-gear and fat-bike demo and an event for girls 8-18.

 

Sat
24
-
Fri
23

Bald Eagle Appreciation Days

Prairie du Chien, WI

Birding experts give programs, and volunteers man spotting scopes at the Wisconsin Travel Information Center, just off the bridge into town. There will also be children's activities and an Effigy Mounds Winter Film Festival.

Sat
24

Grumpy Old Men Festival

Wabasha, MN

There's always good eagle-viewing in this Mississippi River town, and during the festival, there will be an ice-fishing contest, polar plunge and minnow races.

Bockfest at Capital Brewery

Middleton, WI

This Madison-area brewery celebrates with the Running of the Blondes 1K race, a fish throw, music, costumes and, of course, beer. Tickets sell out, so buy early.

International Festival

Madison, WI

Dancers, musicians, storytellers and puppeteers representing traditions from around the world converge on the Overture Center for the Arts on State Street for this free festival. There's also food and a global bazaar.

Candlelight ski/snowshoe/hike

Around the region

There's nothing better than skiing (or snowshoeing or hiking) through a twinkling forest or across a luminary-lined lake. There's usually a bonfire and hot chocolate to enjoy afterward.

Coopersville Outhouse 500

Coopersville, MI

In this town just east of Grand Haven, there's a parade of decorated outhouses, races and a decorated toilet seat contest, auction and chili cookoff.

Trenary Outhouse Classic

Trenary, MI

In this little town, not far from Munising and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, there will be potty-pushing contests for kids and adults, a best fur-hat contest and lots of craft beer.

Sun
25
-
Sat
24

WolfTrack Classic Sled Dog Race

Ely, MN

There's a dog weight pull competition and mushers lasagna feed Saturday and the race to Tower and back on Sunday.

Sun
25

Chinese Lunar New Year's Parade

Chicago, IL

Celebrate the Year of the Dog in Chinatown with a parade, marching bands, lion dancing and fireworks.