MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Winter festivals 2022

January

  • (Jan. 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.


  • (Jan. 1)New Year's Day Parade

    Egg Harbor, WI

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


  • (Jan. 1)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.


  • (Jan. 7 – 9)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.


  • (Jan. 7 – 9)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.


  • (Jan. 7 – 9)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.


  • (Jan. 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.

     


  • (Jan. 8)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.


  • (Jan. 8)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.


  • (Jan. 13 – 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.


  • (Jan. 13 – 16)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.''


  • (Jan. 14 – 23)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.


  • (Jan. 14 – 15)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.


  • (Jan. 14 – 16)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.


  • (Jan. 15 – 16)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.

     


  • (Jan. 15 – 16)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.

     


  • (Jan. 15 – 16)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.


  • (Jan. 15 – 16)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.


  • (Jan. 15 – 17)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.


  • (Jan. 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.


  • (Jan. 18 – 23)World Snow Sculpting Championship

    Stillwater, MN

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


  • (Jan. 21 – 22)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.


  • (Jan. 21 – 23)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.


  • (Jan. 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.


  • (Jan. 22)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.


  • (Jan. 22)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.


  • (Jan. 27 – 30)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.


  • (Jan. 27 – 30)Winterfest

    Grand Haven, MI

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


  • (Jan. 28 – Feb 6)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.


  • (Jan. 28 – Feb 2)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.


  • (Jan. 28 – 30)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.


  • (Jan. 28 – 29)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.


  • (Jan. 28 – 29)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.


  • (Jan. 28 – 30)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.


  • (Jan. 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. 


  • (Jan. 29)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.


  • (Jan. 29 – 30)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.


  • (Jan. 29)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.


  • (Jan. 29)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.

     


  • (Jan. 29 – 30)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.


  • (Jan. 30)John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon

    Duluth, MN

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

     

     


February

  • (Feb. 2 – 6)Winterfest and U.S. Snow Sculpting Championship

    Lake Geneva, WI

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


  • (Feb. 3 – 13)Winter Festival

    Ely, MN

    There's a snow sculpting contest, an arts walk, music, beard and mustache championships and snowshoe tours to Sigurd Olson's Listening Point.

     


  • (Feb. 3 – 5)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.


  • (Feb. 3 – 5)WinterFest

    Crosslake, MN

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


  • (Feb. 3 – 5)SocialICE

    Rochester, MN

    At Peace Plaza downtown, five ice bars each offer a different theme and signature drink, with ice sculptures illuminated by lights and nightly DJ entertainment. On Saturday afternoon, there's a FAM JAM for families.


  • (Feb. 4 – 6)Hot Air Affair

    Hudson, WI

    There will be balloon rides, moon glows and such events as geocaching, bird-watching, a fat-tire bike race and a corn-hole tournament.


  • (Feb. 4 – 5)Knickerbocker Ice Festival

    Lake Mills, WI

    The festival in this town east of Madison includes such events as 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.


  • (Feb. 4 – 6)Ice Breaker

    South Haven, MI

    There's an ice-carving competition in this Lake Michigan town, plus a chili cook-off. curling lessons, frozen-fish fling,cardboard-sled race and disc golf tournament.


  • (Feb. 4 – 6)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.


  • (Feb. 4 – 5)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.


  • (Feb. 5 – 6)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.

     

     


  • (Feb. 5 – 6)Pine Mountain Ski Jumping Tournament

    Iron Mountain, MI

    The tournament in this Upper Peninsula town on the Wisconsin border is where the international jumpers compete; it's a stop on the Continental Cup circuit.


  • (Feb. 5 – 6)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.


  • (Feb. 5 – 6)City of Lakes Loppet

    Minneapolis, MN

    For recreational skiers, the highlight of this big cross-country ski festival is the Saturday-night Luminary Loppet on Lake of the Isles, with glowing ice pillars and "ruins.'' Reserve a time slot in advance.

    There are also classical and free-style races and orienteering, fat-tire, snowshoeing and skijoring tours and races in Theodore Wirth Park, location of most events.

     

     

     


  • (Feb. 5)Cold Front

    Duluth, MN

    This port town on Lake Superior celebrates winter with a festival in Bayfront Festival Park that includes dog sledding, ice skating, bonfires, food and drink.


  • (Feb. 6 – 13)Frozen River Film Festival

    Winona, MN

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

     


  • (Feb. 9 – 12)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.


  • (Feb. 9 – 13)Michigan Ice Fest

    Munising, MI

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


  • (Feb. 11 – 13)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.


  • (Feb. 11 – 27)Polar Fest

    Detroit Lakes, MN

    This festival features such events as ice golf, a Freeze Your Buns run, a snowshoe hike in Tamarac Wildlife Refuge and kite-flying, with professional giant-kite flyers, kite decorating and prizes for amateurs.

     


  • (Feb. 11 – 13)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.


  • (Feb. 11 – 13)Sturgeon Spectacular

    Fond du Lac, WI

    Lake Winnebago is the setting for this celebration of giant fish. There will be ice carving and snow sculpting, a snowman-building contest, bonfires and live music.


  • (Feb. 12)Ice Lantern Festival

    Mineral Point, WI

    See ice lanterns created by artists and students in this arty southwest Wisconsin town and visit the cupcake/cookie/hot chocolate bar as well as the ice bar.


  • (Feb. 12)Kites on Ice Festival

    Buffalo, MN

    This festival on Buffalo Lake and in Sturges Park, just northwest of Minneapolis, features show-kite flyers, free kites for kids, a beer garden, dog-sled rides and a cornhole tournament.


  • (Feb. 13)Chinese Lunar New Year's Parade

    Chicago, IL

    Celebrate the Year of the Tiger in Chinatown with a parade, marching bands and lion dancing. It starts at 1 p.m. at 24th Street and Wentworth Avenue.


  • (Feb. 18 – 19)Fire & Ice

    Sturgeon Bay, WI

    Ice and snow sculptors create pieces around town. There's a novice category for beginners. On Friday, there will be a candlelight ski/hike at Big Creek Nature Preserve, and on Saturday, there will be fireworks.


  • (Feb. 18 – 21)Winterfest

    Stillwater, MN

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

     


  • (Feb. 18 – 20)Winter Jubilee

    Nisswa, MN

    This Brainerd Lakes town celebrates with smoosh racing, competitions in snow sculpting, nail driving, ice fishing and wood splitting, and a Saturday parade.


  • (Feb. 19)Book Across the Bay

    Ashland/Washburn, WI

    The weekend starts with a Friday-night 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.


  • (Feb. 19 – 20)Winter Festival

    Cedarburg, WI

    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.


  • (Feb. 19)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.


  • (Feb. 19)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.


  • (Feb. 19)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.


  • (Feb. 19 – 20)Free Weekend in Michigan state parks

    All state parks, MI

    There's no vehicle-entry fee in Michigan state parks this weekend, and Saturday and Sunday also is Free Fishing Weekend.

    Check events listings for fishing derbies and candlelight ski and snowshoe evenings.


  • (Feb. 23 – 27)American Birkebeiner

    Hayward, WI

    The "Greatest Show on Snow'' includes races of all distances for all ages and abilities plus skijoring and vintage ski.

     

     


  • (Feb. 25 – 26)Bald Eagle Appreciation Days

    Prairie du Chien, WI

    Birding experts give live-eagle and raptor programs, and volunteers man spotting scopes at overlooks. There will also be children's activities and a life-size eagle nest.


  • (Feb. 26)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.


  • (Feb. 26)Bockfest at Capital Brewery

    Middleton, WI

    This Madison-area brewery celebrates with the Running of the Blondes 1K race, a fish toss, music, costumes and, of course, beer. Tickets go on sale Dec. 1 and sell out fast. 


  • (Feb. 26)Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival

    Des Moines, IA

    It's all about bacon at this festival at the Horizon Event Center. The theme is Bacon Gras, with Cajun-infused bacon dishes and street performers and beads on Bacon Bourbon Street. There's also live music, a silent disco, cooking demos and a bacon-eating contest.


  • (Feb. 26)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.


  • (Feb. 26)Leech Lake Frostfest

    Walker, MN

    This town on Leech Lake offers fat-bike demos, dog-sled rides, a snow-golf course, lumberjack races, children's games and craft beer.


  • (Feb. 26)Chili Ice Walk

    Racine, WI

    Between noon and 4 p.m., walk downtown to see ice sculpting, sample chili from eight restaurants and go on a scavenger hunt in shop windows.


  • (Feb. 27)WolfTrack Classic Sled Dog Race

    Ely, MN

    The mushers race to Tower and back, and spectators have a chance to mingle beforehand.


March

  • (Mar. 3 – 7)Oneota Film Festival

    Decorah, IA

    This free festival showcases documentary films and includes dance performances on the campus of Luther College.


  • (Mar. 4 – 5)World's Longest Weenie Roast

    Cable, WI

    Lakewoods Resorts hosts this benefit on Lake Namekagon, which includes snowmobile speed runs, ice bowling, a weenie-eating contest and a frozen weenie polar plunge.


  • (Mar. 5 – 6)Artigras

    Green Bay, WI

    This fine arts festival in KI Convention Center includes artist demonstrations, children's activities, dance, jazz and classical music.


  • (Mar. 25 – Apr 10)Restaurant Week

    Chicago, IL

    Time to pack on the calories: More than 370 restaurants offer three-course prix-fixe menus for $25 at brunch or lunch and $39 or $55 at dinner.


April

  • (Apr. 30 – May 1)International Festival of Owls

    Houston, MN

    This southeast Minnesota town offers owl prowls, hooting contests, pellet dissection, live-owl programs and children's activities.