Winter Festivals Add to the Fun in Northwest Minnesota


The International Eelpout Festival brings approximately 10,000 anglers to Walker every February

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If there’s one thing Northwest Minnesota does even better than outdoor adventure, it’s a good winter festival.

As the temperatures drop, these communities turn up the action for some great winter fun. Whether you want an old-fashioned holiday celebration, a community-focused winter festival or a chance to catch a “pout” and a good time, these Northwest Minnesota winter festivals have you covered.  

Heartland Lakes Community Tree Lighting & Yuletide Sampler

Park Rapids, Nov. 23

A little girl at the Park Rapids Yuletide Sampler
Girl enjoys a marshmallow at the Yuletide Sampler

Visit Park Rapids for the annual Yuletide Sampler and community tree lighting. Park Rapids’ extra-wide downtown streets fill up with cheer the night after Thanksgiving at this cherished community tradition. Meander through the shops sampling holiday treats, then roast a marshmallow and join a group of merry carolers. Once the tree is lit, Mr. and Mrs. Claus arrive like clockwork to make children’s Christmas wishes come true.

Old Fashioned Christmas Open House

Roseau, Dec. 3

Enjoy a traditional Christmas experience complete with Christmas carols, warm cookies and lighted sleigh rides at Roseau’s Pioneer Farm and Village. Noted as a hidden jewel of Roseau County, the Pioneer Farm and Village is in the far north of the state—fairly close to the North Pole and its favorite family.

Back to Hack Winter Festival

Hackensack, Jan. 18–19

Celebrate winter like a local at the Back to Hack festival in beautiful Hackensack, smack dab in the middle of Brainerd and Bemidji. Some of the festival highlights include the Frostbite Your Fanny 5K race, Paul Bunyan family fishing contest, penguin plunge, snow sculpting contest, community bonfire and fireworks show. Recent additions that are returning for 2019 include horse racing, a silent auction and raffle.

Polar Fest

Detroit Lakes, Feb. 7–18

Winter fireworks at Polar Fest in Detroit Lakes
Spectators enjoy the frozen fireworks display at Polar Fest

Mark your calendars for Polar Fest, a 12-day celebration of winter in Detroit Lakes, and a quintessential Minnesota winter event if ever there was one. With 12 whole days of activities, the impressive lineup of events includes a Poles 'n Holes fishing derby, Ice Tee golf, Daddy’s Sweetheart Dance, Freeze Your Buns Run, the Polar Fest Plunge, frozen fireworks, concerts and so much more!

International Eelpout Festival

Walker, Feb. 21–24

For more than 40 years, massive crowds have gathered in Walker for this three day ice fishing festival every February. Crowds of over 10,000 people gather on Leech Lake—Minnesota’s third largest—to celebrate and honor one of the ugliest bottom-dwelling fish imaginable, the eelpout. In a state that often embraces the quirkier side of life, this festival is pure Minnesota fun.

Find more winter events in Northwest Minnesota.