MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest
ornament
Calendar view | List view
ornament
December 2021  January 2022 February 2022
Mon
3
-
Sat
13

Holiday Fantasy in Lights

Madison, WI

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

Sat
1
-
Thu
18

Holiday Lights Festival

Milwaukee, WI

The season-long lights festival includes more than 500,000 lights throughout downtown's parks and streets.

 

Sat
1
-
Thu
25

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).

Sat
1

Cool Fool Kite & Ice Festival

Milwaukee, WI

In addition to kite-flying, there will be ice carving, trebuchet tossing 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 in Iowa

State parks, IA

More than 50 Iowa state parks will participate in a hiking challenge, and 23 state parks are offering guided hikes, many with hot drinks and snacks. Admission is always free.

Sun
2
-
Sat
1

ZooLights

Chicago, IL

The annual display of 2.5 million lights at the Lincoln Park Zoo is operating at limited capacity again this year and charging $5 per person. Tickets are free on Mondays and Tuesdays. Reserve in advance.

Sat
8
-
Fri
7

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.

Sun
9
-
Fri
7

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.

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 hourlong eagle-watching tours.

Breezy Point Ice Fest

Breezy Point, MN

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

Sat
8

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.

 

Gunflint Mail Run sled-dog race

Gunflint Trail, MN

In far northeast Minnesota, watch mushers travel two legs of 50 miles, starting and ending at the Trail Center Lodge on the Central Gunflint Trail.

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.

Sat
15
-
Thu
13

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
16
-
Thu
13

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.

World Championship Snowmobile Derby

Eagle River, WI

Watch oval, snocross and vintage snowmobiles race in this northeast Wisconsin town, which attracts 40,000 spectators to the "Indianapolis 500 of snowmobile racing.''

Sat
15
-
Fri
14

Silver Mine Ski Jumping Championships

Eau Claire, WI

Watch top skiers from North America and Europe compete at Silver Mine Hill, above the Chippewa River on the southwest edge of town.

Sun
16
-
Fri
14

Back to Hack Winter Festival

Hackensack, MN

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

Sun
23
-
Fri
14

Janboree

Waukesha, WI

The fest in this Milwaukee suburb includes Friday-night fireworks, ice sculpting, Ojibwe snow-snake games, ice bocce, a penguin-egg hunt and tobogganing on the lighted run in Lowell Park.

Sun
16
-
Sat
15

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 in addition to eagle viewing at overlooks staffed by volunteers.

 

Bald Eagle Appreciation Days

Keokuk and Montrose, IA

There will be live-eagle presentations, Native American activities, seminars and viewing on the river in Keokuk on Saturday, and on Sunday activities will be in Montrose.

 

Ice Fest

Dubuque, IA

The National Mississippi River Museum hosts this indoor-outdoor festival, which includes ice-harvest and ice-rescue demonstrations, snow sculpting, a live-raptor program and youth ice fishing.

Wisconsin Free Fishing Weekend

All over the state, WI

No license is needed for fishing in Wisconsin or on its side of the Mississippi River and lakes Superior and Michigan.

Mon
17
-
Sat
15

Take a Kid Ice Fishing Weekend

All of Minnesota, MN

Take a kid younger than 16 spear- or ice-fishing this holiday weekend, and you can fish for free.

Sun
16

Red Bull Heavy Metal Street Snowboarding

Duluth, MN

Red Bull sponsors this street-snowboarding spectacle in hillside Cascade Park, at Mesaba Avenue and North First Street West on the north edge of downtown. Watching is free.

Sun
23
-
Tue
18

World Snow Sculpting Championship

Stillwater, MN

Snow-sculpting teams from around the world will compete in Lowell Park.

Sat
22
-
Fri
21

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.

Sun
23
-
Fri
21

Winterfest

Mackinaw City, MI

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

Sat
22

Winterfest

Amana, IA

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.

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.

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.

Sun
30
-
Thu
27

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.

Sat
29
-
Fri
28

Lake Superior Ice Festival

Superior, WI

On Barker's Island, there's a snow slide, ice carving, disc golf, ice racing, kids' activities and fireworks on Saturday.

Heikki Lunta Winter Festival

Negaunee, MI

This town just west of Marquette pays tribute to the Finnish snow god with a rail jam, snowshoe lantern tours, sliding, luging, a fat-tire race and fireworks.

Sun
30
-
Fri
28

Schnee Days

Elkhart Lake, WI

The Snow Days festival in this town in east-central Wisconsin includes the SchneeLauf Run/Walk and such activities as a hunt for colored ice cubes, dog sledding and a chili cook-off.

Fire & Ice Winter Social

Stillwater, MN

In this St. Croix river town, there will be hot-air balloons, an ice-cream social, ice sculptures, music, bags and pond-hockey tournaments and a beer tent.

Wed
2
-
Fri
28

Groundhog Days

Woodstock, IL

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

Sun
6
-
Fri
28

Winter Carnival

St. Paul, MN

This outdoor festival around Rice Park downtown features ice carving, parades, scavenger hunts, pop-up outdoor concerts, ice-fishing and softball and puzzle tournaments.

The King Boreas Grande Day Parade is at 2 p.m. Jan. 29. Kids and Family Day is Feb. 5, with the Vulcan Victory Torchlight Parade at 5:30 p.m., followed by fireworks.

Sat
29

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. 

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.

Winter Fest

Wausau, WI

On the 400 Block downtown, there will be ice carving, ice skating, games and, inside the Great Hall, art projects and free hot chocolate and cookies.

Frostival

Moorhead, MN

In this border town, events include snow-sculpture and disc-golf competitions, games, a snowshoe hike, marshmallow roast, snowga and free ski and snowshoe rentals.

 

Sun
30
-
Sat
29

Art Shanty Projects

Minneapolis, MN

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

 

 

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.

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.

Sun
30

John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon

Duluth, MN

From Duluth, marathon mushers travel to to Grand Portage and mid-distance racers to Tofte.