Last Updated on
Winter is my favorite season. Partly, because I get to wear flats and spanx for five months, but that’s not the only reason. I love winter sports, like skiing, skating, and spelunking in the snow. As a matter of fact, I’m not the only one who loves the winter. Four season locales often embrace the short days and cold weather with a winter festival. In the Midwest, Canada, and the Northeast, a weekend–or sometimes even more–can be dedicated to a winter festival. I’ve never been to one yet, but as I spent a lot of time gone on our honeymoon to Idaho, this years travel will be mostly quick weekend trips.
Frostival in Fargo, North Dakota: A Weekend Winter Festival (January 25-26, 2019)
I’ve only been to Fargo once for a wedding in the dead of summer. Neither my husband nor I have ever visited during the winter. More and more, my husband is intrigued by the setting of his favorite TV show. (Sidebar: 9.0 on IMDB? Wow.) Fargo gets very cold and very dark in the winter, but a winter festival like Frostival helps warm the spirit. Outdoor activities like snow yoga, also known as Snowga, snow golf, and capture the flag are extra special when played in unexpected conditions. Warming saunas and huts are rocking all day with food and music stations. You can see the whole lineup of activities for this winter festival in Fargo, North Dakota on their website. Frostival runs for one weekend only, from January 25-26, 2019. There are still rooms available to visit town for this awesome winter festival.
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin Winterfest: A Nine Day Winter Festival (January 26-February 3, 2019)
I had never visited Lake Geneva before I started dating my husband. His childhood best friend’s family owns a gorgeous home in town and we often spend a weekend there in the summer. I’ve never been to Lake Geneva over the winter, but I have a feeling that is about to change. This year, there are multiple events in Lake Geneva that are perfect for winter fun, although only one is a true winter festival. Running from January 26-February 3, 2019, Winterfest is a nine day winter festival in Lake Geneva. Spanning just over a week, Winterfest includes an unbelievable snow sculpture event, human dog sled races, and a chili cook-off. If you aren’t able to attend Winterfest, Lake Geneva also has Ice Castles all season (weather permitting), and a you’ve got to see it to believe it Sky Circus on Ice from February 15-17.
Winterlude in Ottawa: A Two Week Long Winter Festival (February 1-18, 2019)
I am so excited to attend Winterlude this year in Ottawa. We were originally supposed to visit Ottawa over Christmas, but that trip was canceled. Even though we had a non-refundable, pre-paid stay at Fairmont Château Laurier, the hotel graciously allowed us to rebook our stay within 90 days of cancellation. Since all of the Christmas cheer would be packed away for the season, we decided to rebook for a time during Winterlude. We will get to see ice carving, skate on the UNESCO heritage site of the frozen Rideau Canal, and try to stay warm with some skiing at Camp Fortune. This year, the winter festival of Winterlude runs for two weeks, from February 1-February 18, 2019. Let me know if we will see you there!
Camden, Maine: Winterfest (February 2-10, 2019)
I lived in Maine when the economy was in the toilet (2008) and all I cared about was surviving life with a ghost as a roommate. Weekends were spent at the gym and the movie theatre, trying to kill time. I didn’t take advantage of skiing or any fun winter activities because I was 23 and didn’t realize what kind of opportunity I had. One of my biggest regrets during that time was not visiting the coast of Maine north of Portland. I missed out on entirely awesome places like Acadia National Park and Camden, Maine. Not too far from either Bangor or Augusta, Camden’s Winterfest started in 2013 to celebrate winter! Ice carving, skating competitions, and a toboggan competition are fun outdoor activities, and indoor activities
Houghton, Michigan: Michigan Tech Winter Carnival (February 6-9, 2019)
I absolutely fell in love with Houghton and all of MIchigan’s Upper Peninsula this past year. While I visited over the summer, hearing about the over 200 inches of yearly snow piqued my interest. Because winter lasts so long in Houghton, it is hard not to talk about it. Everyone in town told me about the Michigan Tech Winter Carnival. A yearly tradition since 1922, this winter festival is put on by students of the university for the public’s enjoyment. Ice bowling involving human bowling balls, speed skating competitions, broomball, and more, are all enjoyed without spectators having to risk life or limb. The crowning achievement of many of these STEM curriculum students is the month long snow sculpture competition.
Québec City, Canada : Winter Carnival (February 8-17, 2019)
The first winter carnival I ever heard of was that of Québec City. I studied abroad in Québec City during the summer, and while the Festival d’Été was a blast, people frequently spoke of its winter equivalent. Québec City is known to be the most European feeling city in all of North America. Couple the quaint streets and historic architecture with a Francophone winter wonderland and you have Winter Carnival. While it doesn’t run as long as the Canadian capital Ottawa, what the winter festival lacks in days it makes up for in spectacle. A pivotal Québecois event since 1955, the jewel of this fest is the Bonhomme Ice Palace. Fashioned entirely of ice, it is an architectural marvel that one must see to believe.
Does your town put on a winter festival each year? Or, perhaps you know of another fun locale for winter festival fun. If so, please leave a comment so I can update my list!
This post may contain affiliate links.