MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest
ornament
Calendar view | List view
ornament
December 2018  January 2019 February 2019
Tue
1
-
Sat
10

Holiday Fantasy in Lights

Madison, WI

The free display in Olin Park is open from dusk to dawn.

Tue
1
-
Thu
22

Lakeside Park Holiday Lights

Fond du Lac, WI

This free light show on Lake Winnebago includes animated scenes and trees that dance to 20 minutes of music played on 87.9 FM (you can listen on your car radio).

Tue
1

Cool Fool Kite Festival

Milwaukee, WI

In addition to kite-flying, there will be ice sculptures, ice-carving lessons and free hot chocolate, coffee and snacks in the lakefront Veterans Park.

New Year's Day Parade

Egg Harbor, WI

Welcome the new year with a 1 p.m. parade. Everyone is welcome to march.

Sat
5
-
Fri
4

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.

Sun
6
-
Fri
4

Ice Festival

Sandstone, MN

There are ice-climbing and winter camping clinics, a chili cook-off, door prizes and use of demo gear in Sandstone Ice Park.

Sat
5

Bald Eagle Watch

Clinton, IA

Two Mississippi River towns host this event, with live-eagle and nature programs at Iowa's Clinton Community College and free bus service to Lock & Dam 13 in Fulton, Ill.

Breezy Point Ice Fest

Breezy Point, MN

This Brainerd Lakes resort village celebrates with horse-drawn sleigh rides, an ice slide, snow golf and ice fishing.

Sun
6
-
Sat
5

Gunflint Mail Run sled-dog race

Gunflint Trail, MN

Mushers travel two legs of 50 miles, starting and ending at the Trail Center Lodge on the Central Gunflint Trail.

Sun
13
-
Fri
11

SISU Ski Fest

Ironwood, MI

This Finnish fest includes a ski expo, free kids' ski, 5K Fun Ski, 15km and 31km ski races, a free after-party at the Historic Ironwood Theatre and a free fat-bike demo on scenic bluffs and along the Montreal River.

Bald Eagle Days

Rock Island, IL

At the Quad Cities Expo Center, there's an environmental fair, with flying demonstrations by eagles, hawks and owls and many other events.

Sat
12

Sleigh & Cutter Rally

Ashland, WI

Antique sleighs and drivers in 19th-century costumes gather at Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center and offer rides.

Winter Festival

La Farge, WI

Visit the Kickapoo Valley Reserve for horse-drawn bobsled rides, guided snowshoe and ice-cave hikes, winter games, fat-tire bike demos and a sled-dog race and weight pull.

 

Winter Trails Day

Minneapolis, MN

Play outdoors on the beach at Fort Snelling State Park, near the airport. Try such sports as snowshoeing, skiing, skijoring, ice-fishing, quinzee-building, ice-sculpting and more.

It's free and hosted by the Mississippi Park Connection and Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, and a vehicle sticker is required.

Sun
20
-
Thu
17

Icebox Days

International Falls, MN

In this far-north town, there will be smoosh races, frozen turkey bowling, a toilet-seat toss, boot hockey and fireworks. On Saturday, there's the annual Freeze Yer Gizzard Blizzard Run.

Sat
19
-
Fri
18

Bald Eagle Watching Days

Prairie du Sac, WI

This town along the Wisconsin River, next to a hydroelectric plant, offers guided bus tours, live birds of prey programs and kids' activities. At 1 p.m. Saturday, rehabilitated eagles will be released in VFW Park.

Winterfest

Mackinaw City, MI

In this town on the Mackinac Straits, there's a snow-sculpting competition, sleigh rides, a poker run and outhouse races.

Silver Mine Ski Jumping Championships

Eau Claire, WI

Watch top skiers from North America and Europe compete at Silver Mine Hill.

Heikki Lunta Winter Festival

Negaunee, MI

This town just west of Marquette pays tribute to the Finnish snow god with a Friday-evening parade, fat-tire bike race and, on Saturday, ski-jumping, luging open to the public and Yooper Feats of Strength, including toast-eating, human foosball and turkey bowling, followed by a bonfire, fireworks and music.

Sun
20
-
Fri
18

Back to Hack Winter Festival

Hackensack, MN

The festival in this Brainerd Lakes town on the Paul Bunyan State Trail features snow sculpting, an ice-fishing contest, penguin plunge, kids' games and Saturday fireworks.

Sat
19

Bald Eagle Watch

Dubuque, IA

Live-eagle programs and free trolley rides from the Grand River Center downtown to the National Mississippi River Museum and Lock & Dam 11.

Isthmus Beer & Cheese Fest

Madison, WI

A celebration of Wisconsin's greatest products at Alliant Energy Center, with plenty to sample. Tickets sell out, so buy early.

Sun
20
-
Sat
19

Bald Eagle Appreciation Days

Keokuk, IA

In this Mississippi River town, there's live-eagle presentations, Native American activities, demonstrations and viewing on the river.

Sun
27
-
Thu
24

Winter Games

Lake Okoboji, IA

This resort area in northwest Iowa will offer human sled races, flag football on ice, indoor golf, snowball drop, stein-holding, horse-drawn carriage rides, a Freeze Yer Fanny Bike Ride, keg toss and fireworks.

Winterfest

Grand Haven, MI

In this Lake Michigan town, there's a human sled race, cardboard sled race, luau and snow-angel contest.

Sun
3
-
Thu
24

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.

There are three parades: the Moon Glow Pedestrian Jan. 24, Grande Day Jan. 26 and Vulcan Victory Torchlight Feb. 2, followed by fireworks.

Sat
26
-
Fri
25

Frostival

Fargo-Moorhead, MN

This festival includes snow yoga, snow golf, snow kickball and snow softball, plus s'mores and bike and cardboard-sled races.

Sun
27
-
Fri
25

Celebration of the Lakes

Center City, MN

This Chisago Lakes festival on North Center Lake includes snowmobile races, an ice-fishing tournament, sled-dog rides and a free ice-fishing clinic for kids.

Schnee Days

Elkhart Lake, WI

The Snow Days festival in this town in east-central Wisconsin includes a hunt for colored ice cubes, dog sledding and a chili cook-off.

Janboree

Waukesha, WI

The fest in this Milwaukee suburb includes Friday-night fireworks, ice sculpting, trolley rides, a penguin-egg hunt and tobogganing on the lighted run in Lowell Park. 

Lake Superior Ice Festival

Superior, WI

On Barker's Island, there's a snow slide, Hiki Hut mobile sauna, ice sculptures, pond hockey, bonfires, s'mores, ice racing, kids' activities and fireworks at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Thu
7
-
Fri
25

Restaurant Week

Chicago, IL

Time to pack on the calories: More than 370 restaurants offer three-course prix-fixe menus for $24 at brunch or lunch and $36 or $48 at dinner.

Sat
26

Winterfest

Amana, IA

Go on a wine walk or scavenger hunt or compete in ham-throwing, log-sawing, the Amana Freezer Run/Walk, snowshoeing or for the best beard. There will be ice sculptures, storytelling and schnitzel-sampling, too.

Art Sled Rally

Minneapolis, MN

Watch sledders or ride down a decorated hill at Powderhorn Park in your own wacky sled, which you can make at home or at free workshops at Powderhorn Park Community Center. There's also live music and hot chocolate.

Heikinpaiva

Hancock, MI

The winter festival in this Finnish town on the Keweenaw Peninsula features kicksled races, a Tori market, a polar bear dive and an 11  a.m. parade.

Lake Harriet Kite Festival

Minneapolis, MN

In addition to kite-flying, this event on popular Lake Harriet includes horse-drawn wagon rides, kids' ice fishing, arts, music and roasted marshmallows.

Winter Fest

Wausau, WI

On the 400 Block downtown, there will be a snow slide, ice carving, ice skating, dog weight-pulling, horse-drawn wagon rides, fat-tire bike demos and a mac-and-cheese contest.

The figure-skating and nordic-skiing competitions of the Badger Winter Games also are being held in the Wausau area.

Sun
27
-
Sat
26

Eagle Watch Weekend

Utica, IL

There will be eagle viewing and family activities at Starved Rock State Park Visitors Center, Starved Rock Lodge and, across the river, the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center. Trolleys connect the three venues.

Norge Ski Jumping Tournament

Fox River Grove, IL

See some of the nation's best jumpers compete in this northwest Chicago suburb, which trained much of the 2018 U.S. Olympic team.

Eagle-watching festivals

Around the region

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

Sun
3
-
Sat
26

Winterfest and U.S. Snow Sculpting Championship

Lake Geneva, WI

In this lake town, there's music, magic shows, a human sled-dog race, helicopter rides, ice bars and an ice castle, plus the snow-sculpting championship.

Sun
27

John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon

Duluth, MN

From Billy's Bar, watch the start of the marathon to Grand Portage and the start of the mid-distance race to Lutsen Mountains.

 

Sat
2
-
Wed
30

Winter Dance Party

Clear Lake, IA

The Surf Ballroom marks the 60th anniversary of the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, with concerts, luncheons, dance lessons and crash-site tours. Performers include Chubby Checker and the Wildcats, the Chiffons and Wendy and Carnie Wilson. 

Sat
2
-
Thu
31

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
3
-
Thu
31

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. Saturday, Woodstock Willie will look for his shadow.

City of Lakes Loppet

Minneapolis, MN

For recreational skiers, the highlight of this big cross-country ski festival is the Feb. 2 Luminary Loppet on Lake of the Isles, with glowing ice pillars and "ruins.'' Afterward, there's a tent party with music and beer.

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 at the new Trailhead in Theodore Wirth Park, location of most events.