Weird, Wild & Wacky Winter Festival Fun
Weird, wacky and wild fun--that's how many communities celebrate Minnesota's season of ice and snow. At winter festivals across the state, a wide array of winter-only types of fun lure folks outside to play.
Turkey bowling, golf on frozen lakes, polar plunges through a hole in the ice into the frigid waters, racing beds and bar stools downhill. Silly sports take their place alongside traditional winter fun, like sleigh rides, dogsled races and chili feeds.
The oldest and biggest of all our winter festivals is the Saint Paul Winter Carnival, Jan. 26-Feb. 5. Billed as the "coolest celebration on earth," the Winter Carnival began in 1886. Among the highlights on the packed calendar of carnival events are the popular snow and ice sculpture contents. These fleeting works of art are truly amazing.
The International Snow Sculpting Symposium is part of the Ely Winter Festival (Feb. 2-12) this year, along with a voyageur encampment, dogsled rides and an art walk. The Gunflint Trail celebrates the season with the Winter Tracks Festival (Feb. 3-12), featuring a candlelight ski, snowshoe hikes, bonfires, sleigh rides and a snowmobile run.
Polar Fest in Detroit Lakes (Feb. 10-20) includes turkey bowling, an iced tee golf tournament, the "freeze your buns run," a vintage snowmobile race, a "polar plunge," and fireworks. A traditional sleigh and cutter parade (Feb. 11) is a key event at a Waseca festival that runs Feb. 3-25, and the tiny Iron Range town of Palo features Finnish sliding (laskiainen) at its festival Feb. 4-5.