MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest
ornament
Calendar view | List view
ornament
December 2019  January 2020 February 2020
Wed
1
-
Sat
9

Holiday Fantasy in Lights

Madison, WI

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

Wed
1
-
Thu
28

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).

Wed
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.

First Day Hikes

State parks, IA

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Iowa state parks, 49 parks will hold guided First Day Hikes. Many also will offer hot drinks and snacks.

Sun
5
-
Thu
2

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
5
-
Fri
3

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
4

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.

Sun
12
-
Fri
10

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
11

Sleigh & Cutter Rally

Ashland, WI

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

SISU Ski Fest

Ironwood, MI

This Finnish fest includes a ski expo, free kids' ski, 5K Fun Ski, 15km and 30km 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.

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
12
-
Sat
11

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
19
-
Thu
16

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
18
-
Fri
17

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
19
-
Fri
17

Eagle-watching festivals

Around the region

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

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.

Sun
26
-
Fri
17

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. 

Sat
18

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
19
-
Sat
18

Art Shanty Projects

Minneapolis, MN

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

 

 

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.

Mon
20
-
Sat
18

Ice Fest

Dubuque, IA

The National Mississippi River Museum hosts this indoor-outdoor festival, which includes ice-harvest and ice-rescue demonstrations, snow sculpting, art projects and live animals, including Alaskan malamutes.

Sun
26
-
Thu
23

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.

Celebration of the Lakes

Chisago Lakes, MN

This festival north of the Twin Cities includes snowmobile races, fat biking, an ice-fishing tournament, sled-dog rides and a free ice-fishing clinic for kids.

Activities are on North Center Lake in Center City and in Chisago City, Lindstrom and Shafer.

Winterfest

Grand Haven, MI

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

Sun
2
-
Thu
23

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.

The Grande Day Parade is Jan. 25 and the Vulcan Victory Torchlight Parade Feb. 1, followed by fireworks.

Sat
25
-
Fri
24

Lake Superior Ice Festival

Superior, WI

On Barker's Island, there's a snow slide, ice sculptures, pond hockey, bonfires, s'mores, ice racing, kids' activities and fireworks on Saturday.

Sun
26
-
Fri
24

Schnee Days

Elkhart Lake, WI

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

Winterfest

Stillwater, MN

In this St. Croix River town, there will be a parka pub crawl, stein-holding and beard contests, axe-throwing, curling, ice carving, music, winter games, a Friday torchlight parade and Saturday fireworks.

Venues include Lily Lake, Mulberry Point Harbor, Lift Bridge Brewery and the JX Event Venue downtown.

Sun
9
-
Fri
24

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
25

Winterfest

Amana, IA

Go on a wine walk or scavenger hunt or compete in ham-throwing, log-sawing, wreath-tossing, 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 wife-carrying contest, 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 nordic-skiing competition of the Badger Winter Games also is being held in the Wausau area.

Sun
26
-
Sat
25

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 has produced several Olympians.

Sun
26

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.

 

Sun
2
-
Wed
29

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.

Sat
1
-
Thu
30

Winter Dance Party

Clear Lake, IA

The Surf Ballroom marks the 61st anniversary of the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, with concerts, luncheons, dance lessons and crash-site tours.

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
2
-
Thu
30

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 a.m. Sunday, 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. 1 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 Trailhead in Theodore Wirth Park, location of most events.

 

 

 

Sat
1
-
Fri
31

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.

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
2
-
Fri
31

Winter Festival

Fish Creek, WI

This Door County village lets loose with such events as 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.