MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Great winter festivals

Enjoy the chilly season with snow sculptures, ice castles, sleigh rides and lots of hot chocolate.

Ice sculptures in St. Paul's Rice Park.

Beth Gauper

Ice sculptures fill St. Paul's Rice Park during Winter Carnival.

True northerners don't let cold weather keep them indoors, not when they could be out on the ice playing broomball and bowling turkeys. 

Many festivals in winter are held on frozen lakes, the best place for kite-flying, ice golf and hot-air balloon lift-offs. In northern Minnesota, an ice-house city goes up on Leech Lake for the goofy Eelpout Festival in February.

In parks, elaborate ice and snow sculptures entertain passersby. On rivers, buses take tourists to see bald eagles. Bonfires and hot chocolate are offered everywhere.

Below are some of the fun festivals going on around the region in 2014. Always check before you go to verify dates and to make sure you catch the best parts of a festival, especially the parades.

For candlelight events, see Ski or snowshoe by candlelight.

For more about eagle-watching events, see Where eagles land.

For events year-round, see the Events Calendar.

New Year's celebrations

Look for fireworks everywhere New Year's Eve, especially in La Crosse, where the Skyrockers are famous for their pyrotechnics from Grandad Bluff (midnight, with a kids' show at 6 p.m.).

For getaway ideas, see 10 great ways to celebrate New Year's.

U.S. Bank Eve in Madison, WI There will be family games and festivities in five locations: U.S. Bank Plaza and Monona Terrace downtown, Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Prairie Athletic Club and Keva Sports Center in Middleton.   Dec. 31.

Cool Fool Kite Festival in Milwaukee, WI In addition to kite-flying, there will be ice sculptures and free hot chocolate, coffee and snacks in the lakefront Veterans Park. Jan. 1.

Frosty Fest in Egg Harbor, WI There's live music, snow sculptures, a fun run and a parade that starts at 1 p.m. Jan. 1.

First weekend of January

Breezy Point Ice Fest in Breezy Point, MN This Brainerd Lakes lake-resort village celebrates with dogsled rides, free horse-drawn trolley rides, an ice slide, snow golf, fireworks and, of course, ice fishing. Jan. 3–5.

Gichigami Express sled-dog race in Grand Portage, MN Mushers travel to the Gunflint Trail, then Grand Marais, then back to Grand Portage. Jan. 4–6.

Bald Eagle Watch in Fulton, IL 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. 4.

A Bock Fest parade.

Beth Gauper

Bock Fest in New Ulm signals the end of winter.

Second weekend of January

Ice Sculpting Competition in Holland, MI College students from around the Midwest will compete in this Collegiate Ice Sculpting Invitational, hosted by Downtown Holland and the National Ice Carving Association. Jan. 10–11.

The Big Chill in Racine, WI Monument Square is the new location of Wisconsin's state snow-sculpting competition. There's ice-carving, too. Jan. 10–12.

Bald Eagle Days in Rock Island, IL At the Quad Cities Expo Center, there's an environmental fair, with flying demonstrations by eagles, hawks and owls from the World Bird Sanctuary in St. Louis and many other events. Jan. 10–12.

Sleigh & Cutter Rally in Ashland, WI Antique sleighs and drivers in 19th-century costumes gather at Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center. There's a parade at 1 p.m. Jan. 11.

Winter Trails Day in Across the region, ALL This is the day adults as well as children can try snowshoeing and cross-country skiing for free. Check the website for sponsor stores and resorts near you. Jan. 11.

Jack Frost Fest in Spooner, WI There's turkey bowling, minnow races, an antique snowmobile show and a family snowshoe hike in this western Wisconsin town. Jan. 11.

SISU Ski Fest in Ironwood, MI This Finnish fest includes a 10K Taste N Tour with four food stations showcasing Yooper cuisine, three snowshoe races, kids' races, a Finnish reggae concert Saturday and 21K and 42K races through historic mining areas, scenic bluffs and along the Montreal River. Jan. 11.

Winter Festival in La Farge, WI Visit the Kickapoo Valley Reserve for horse-drawn wagon rides, guided snowshoe and ice-cave hikes, winter games and a sled-dog race. In the evening, there's a torchlight ski, snowshoe or hike at nearby Wildcat Mountain State Park. Jan. 11.

Frostbite Challenge in Monticello, MN This Mississippi River town offers a kids' fishing contest, snow golfing, pond hockey and a vintage snowmobile show and run. Jan. 11–12.

Icebox Days in 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. 15–19.

Artists at the Art Shanties.

Beth Gauper

There are lots of goofy goings-on at the Art Shanties near Minneapolis.

Third weekend of January

Icebox Days in 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. 15–19.

Winterfest in Mackinaw City, MI There's a snow-sculpting competition, sleigh rides, a poker run and outhouse races. Jan. 16–18.

Bald Eagle Watching Days in Prairie du Sac, WI This town along the Wisconsin River, next to a hydroelectric plant, offers guided bus tours, birds of prey programs and a radio-tracking demonstration. Jan. 17–18.

Hunter Ice Festival in Niles, MI This festival in the southwest tip of the state, named for a turn-of-the-century ice-harvesting business, features more than 150 ice sculptures and a competition. Jan. 17–19.

Janboree in Waukesha, WI The fest in this Milwaukee suburb includes Friday-night fireworks, ice sculptures, wagon rides, a dog weight pull and tobogganing on the lighted run in Lowell Park. Jan. 17–19.

Ice & Spice Festival in Bay Harbor, MI This Lake Michigan village between Petoskey and Charlevoix holds competitions sanctioned by the National Ice Carving Association and a chili challenge. Jan. 17–18.

Silver Mine Ski Jumping Championships in Eau Claire, WI Watch the U.S. Cup ski jumping and North American Nordic Combined jumping/skiing championships at Silver Mine Hill. Jan. 17–18.

Bald Eagle Watch in Dubuque, IA Live-eagle programs and free trolley rides from the Grand River Center downtown to the National Mississippi River Museum and Lock & Dam 11. Jan. 18.

Isthmus Beer & Cheese Fest in Madison, WI A celebration of Wisconsin's greatest products at Alliant Energy Center, with plenty to sample. Tickets sell out, so buy early. Jan. 18.

Bald Eagle Appreciation Days in Keokuk, IA There's live-eagle presentations, Native American activities, demonstrations and viewing on the river. Jan. 18–19.

Lake Harriet Kite Festival in 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. 18.

Fourth weekend of January

Winter Carnival in St. Paul, MN See ice sculptures in Rice Park (go early if it's warm), the Grande Day parade at 2 p.m. Jan. 25 and the Torchlight Parade at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 1, followed by fireworks, the overthrow of King Boreas and the Vulcan Victory Dance. Jan. 23–Feb. 2.

Winterfest in Grand Haven, MI In this Lake Michigan town, there's a human sled race, cardboard sled race, luau and snow-angel contest. Jan. 23–26.

Winter Games in Lake Okoboji, IA This resort area in northwest Iowa will offer broomball, softball and flag football on ice, indoor golf, a Freeze Yer Fanny Bike Ride, ugliest snowsuit contest, a chili cookoff and fireworks at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Jan. 24–26.

Celebration of the Lakes in Center City, MN This Chisago Lakes festival on North Center Lake includes hot-air balloon launches, dog-sled and, helicopter rides, a medallion hunt, a kiddie parade at noon Saturday and a snowmobile torchlight parade at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Jan. 24–26.

Restaurant Week in Chicago, IL Time to pack on the calories: More than 250 restaurants offer three-course prix-fixe menus for $22 at lunch and $33-$44 at dinner. Jan. 24–Feb. 6.

Winterfest in Amana, IA Go on a wine walk or scavenger hunt or compete in ham-throwing, log-sawing, the Amana Freezer Run/Walk, snowshoeing or for the best beard. There will be ice sculptures, storytelling and schnitzel-sampling, too. Jan. 25.

Bald Eagle Days in Cassville, WI This Mississippi River town in southwest Wisconsin will offer raptor programs and viewing with spotting scopes in Riverside Park. Jan. 25–26.

John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon in Duluth, MN Watch the start of the marathon to the Gunflint Trail and the mid-distance race to Tofte. Jan. 25–26.

Art Sled Rally in Minneapolis, MN 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. 25.

Heikinpaiva in Hancock, MI The winter festival in this Finnish town on the Keweenaw Peninsula features wife-carrying, kicksled races, a polar bear dive and an 11 a.m. parade. Jan. 25.

Norge Ski Jumping Tournament in Fox River Grove, IL See some of the nation's best jumpers compete in this northwest Chicago suburb. Jan. 25–26.

Phillips Winter Fest in Phillips, WI This north-central town, known for the Wisconsin Concrete Park, offers snowmobile, ATV and lawn mower races; a tug of war and barrel toss; a candlelight ski/snowshoe/walk to an island; and a snowmobile parade followed by fireworks. Jan. 25–26.

Eagle Watch Weekend in Utica, IL There will be eagle viewing and family activities at Starved Rock State Park Visitors Center, Starved Rock Lodge and, across the river, the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center. Trolleys connect the three venues. Jan. 25–26.

Winter Dance Party in Clear Lake, IA The Surf Ballroom marks the 55th anniversary of the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly with concerts, luncheons, dance lessons and crash-site tours. Jan. 29–Feb. 1.

U.S. Snow Sculpting Championship and Winterfest in Lake Geneva, WI Watch artists shape snow into whimsical shapes and vote on the best ones. On Saturday, there's music and rides on wagons, helicopters and tethered balloons. Jan. 29–Feb. 2.

Show kites at Clear Lake's Color the Wind.

Kay Day

Show kites are displayed at Clear Lake's Color the Wind festival.

First weekend of February

Winter Carnival in St. Paul, MN See ice sculptures in Rice Park (go early if it's warm), the Grande Day parade at 2 p.m. Jan. 25 and the Torchlight Parade at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 1, followed by fireworks, the overthrow of King Boreas and the Vulcan Victory Dance. Jan. 23–Feb. 2.

Restaurant Week in Chicago, IL Time to pack on the calories: More than 250 restaurants offer three-course prix-fixe menus for $22 at lunch and $33-$44 at dinner. Jan. 24–Feb. 6.

Winter Dance Party in Clear Lake, IA The Surf Ballroom marks the 55th anniversary of the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly with concerts, luncheons, dance lessons and crash-site tours. Jan. 29–Feb. 1.

U.S. Snow Sculpting Championship and Winterfest in Lake Geneva, WI Watch artists shape snow into whimsical shapes and vote on the best ones. On Saturday, there's music and rides on wagons, helicopters and tethered balloons. Jan. 29–Feb. 2.

Groundhog Days in Woodstock, IL The 1993 movie "Groundhog Day'' was filmed in this town an hour northwest of Chicago, and it celebrates with storytelling, a bachelor auction and tours of movie sites, including the 1889 Opera House, where Bill Murray jumped from the belfry. At 7:07 a.m. Sunday, Woodstock Willie will look for his shadow. Jan. 30–Feb. 2.

Michigan Ice Fest in Munising, MI Ice-climbing demos, slide shows and clinics for beginners at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Jan. 30–Feb. 2.

WinterFest in Rochester, MN This southern Minnesota city offers a cardboard sled race, figure-skating competitions, a candlelight ski and seven outdoor ice bars downtown. Jan. 30–Feb. 9.

WinterFest in Crosslake, MN In this Brainerd Lakes area, there's a snowman-building contest, ice car races, an antique snowmobile rally and helicopter rides. Jan. 30–Feb. 1.

Snowflake Ski-Jumping Tournament in 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 no longer attracts many international skiers, but it's still fun to watch because the jump is built onto the side of a coulee, and spectators can climb it and watch from the top. Jan. 31–Feb. 1.

Winter Festival in Fish Creek, WI This Door County village lets loose with events that include bed racing, a toilet-seat throw, a bike toss and a snowshoe dance contest. There are also free trolley rides, ice carving, fireworks and a parade Saturday. Jan. 31–Feb. 2.

Ice Breaker in South Haven, MI There's an ice-carving competition in this Lake Michigan town, plus wagon rides, synchronized skating and a chili cook-off. Jan. 31–Feb. 2.

City of Lakes Loppet in Minneapolis, MN For recreational skiers, the highlight of this big cross-country ski festival is the Saturday-night Luminary Loppet, with glowing ice pillars and "ruins.'' There's a tent party with music afterward. On Saturday, there are also ski games and races for children, a snow-sculpture contest and orienteering, bicycle and skijoring races. On Sunday, there's a 10k tour, a 25k classical race and a 33k freestyle race plus snowshoeing, skijoring, fat tire and dog-sled races. Jan. 31–Feb. 2.

Winter Tracks Festival in North Shore, MN Enjoy guided snowshoe hikes and cross-country ski tours, sleigh rides, snow sculptures and snowmobile runs from the Lutsen-Tofte area to the Gunflint Trail. Jan. 31–Feb. 8.

Art Shanty Projects in White Bear Lake, MN Frozen White Bear Lake in this northern St. Paul suburb hosts two dozen artist-designed ice houses and lots of fun art antics. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; check for scheduled events. Feb. 1–2.

Knickerbocker Ice Festival in Lake Mills, WI This darling town east of Madison holds 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. 1.

Iola Winter Carnival in Iola, WI This village near Waupaca offers ice carving, a lutefisk dinner, ski and snowshoe races and ski jumping. Feb. 1–2.

Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival in Des Moines, IA It's all about bacon at this festival in the Iowa State Fairgrounds, which draws 12,000 people and sells out immediately. Feb. 1.

Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race in Bayfield, WI Watch four races over two days and get in some skiing and snowshoeing on the side. Feb. 1–2.

Winter Carnival in 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. 5–8.

Sisters with painted faces at Owl Fest.

Torsten Muller

Festival-goers have their faces painted in the markings of their favorite owls at the International Festival of Owls in southeast Minnesota.

Second weekend of February

Restaurant Week in Chicago, IL Time to pack on the calories: More than 250 restaurants offer three-course prix-fixe menus for $22 at lunch and $33-$44 at dinner. Jan. 24–Feb. 6.

WinterFest in Rochester, MN This southern Minnesota city offers a cardboard sled race, figure-skating competitions, a candlelight ski and seven outdoor ice bars downtown. Jan. 30–Feb. 9.

Winter Tracks Festival in North Shore, MN Enjoy guided snowshoe hikes and cross-country ski tours, sleigh rides, snow sculptures and snowmobile runs from the Lutsen-Tofte area to the Gunflint Trail. Jan. 31–Feb. 8.

Winter Carnival in 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. 5–8.

Winter Festival in Ely, MN There's an International Snow Sculpting Symposium, arts and crafts fair, snowshoe treks, voyageur encampment and ArtWalk. Feb. 6–16.

Pine Mountain Ski Jumping Tournament in Iron Mountain, MI This Upper Peninsula town on the Wisconsin border is where the international jumpers go; it's a stop on the Continental Cup circuit. Feb. 7–9.

Hot Air Affair in Hudson, WI There will be winter sports Olympics, a craft fair, chili cookoff, Friday night parade and fireworks plus morning balloon launches and evening moon glows. Feb. 7–9.

Frostbite Olympics in Algona, IA The festival in this north-central Iowa town features snowmobile rides, ice races, snow kickball and a treasure mountain for kids. Feb. 7–8.

Polar Fest in Detroit Lakes, MN There's a vintage snowmobile race and fishing derby, a vintage snowmobile rally, youth fishing derby, plunge party, ice motorcycle stunts and fireworks. Feb. 7–16.

Magical Ice Fest in 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. 7–9.

Winterama in Glenwood, MN There will be outhouse races, a bobber drawing, a polar plunge and fireworks over Lake Minnewaska. Feb. 7–8.

Snow Days in Chicago, IL There'll be a snow-sculpting tournament, snow painting and snowboarding for kids at Gateway Park, just west of the entrance to Navy Pier. Feb. 8–9.

Auto Show in Chicago, IL It's the largest car show in the nation and third-largest in the world. Feb. 8–17.

Art Shanty Projects in White Bear Lake, MN Frozen White Bear Lake in this northern St. Paul suburb hosts two dozen artist-designed ice houses and lots of fun art antics. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; check for scheduled events. Feb. 8–9.

Frosty Frolic in Cambridge, WI In this town between Madison and Milwaukee, there will be outhouse races, kites on ice, turkey bowling and the Dip for Dozer Plunge. Feb. 8.

A Beargrease team explodes from the start.

Torsten Muller

A team explodes from the starting line in Duluth's John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon.

Third weekend of February

Winter Festival in Ely, MN There's an International Snow Sculpting Symposium, arts and crafts fair, snowshoe treks, voyageur encampment and ArtWalk. Feb. 6–16.

Polar Fest in Detroit Lakes, MN There's a vintage snowmobile race and fishing derby, a vintage snowmobile rally, youth fishing derby, plunge party, ice motorcycle stunts and fireworks. Feb. 7–16.

Auto Show in Chicago, IL It's the largest car show in the nation and third-largest in the world. Feb. 8–17.

Winter Comedy Arts Festival in Traverse City, MI In addition to comedy concerts and films, there's music, a hot-chocolate contest and lots of free things to do on Front Street: Ferris wheel and zip-line rides, snow tubing, mini-golf, a monster dog pull, the Slip 'N' Fall Olympics and rowboat, snowblower and bed racing. Feb. 13–16.

Sax Zim Bog Festival of Birds in Meadowlands, MN Listen to programs and go on field trips to see such boreal species as evening grosbeak, northern hawk owl, gray jay and particularly snowy owls. Register early for this festival northwest of Duluth. Feb. 14–16.

Fire & Ice in Sturgeon Bay, WI Ice and snow sculptors create pieces around town. Feb. 14–16.

Winter Jubilee in Nisswa, MN In this Brainerd Lakes village, festivities include a medallion hunt, snow sculptures, wood-splitting and a parade at noon Saturday. Feb. 14–16.

Madison Winter Festival in Madison, WI See Capitol Square turn into a sports venue, with cross-country skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing plus music, family games and ice and snow sculptures. Feb. 15–16.

Book Across the Bay in Ashland/Washburn, WI 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. 15.

Color the Wind Kite Festival in 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. 15.

Art Shanty Projects in White Bear Lake, MN Frozen White Bear Lake in this northern St. Paul suburb hosts two dozen artist-designed ice houses and lots of fun art antics. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; check for scheduled events. Feb. 15–16.

Barstool Races in 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. 15.

Winter Festival in Cedarburg, WI In its 40th year, this festival just north of Milwaukee features bed and barrel races, snow golf, an ice-carving contest, a dog weight pull competition, an arts show. The grand parade is at 1 p.m. Saturday. Feb. 15–16.

Voyageur Winter Festival in Thunder Bay, ON The fest at Fort William Historical Park includes a snow maze, sleigh and dog-sled rides and contests in snow-sculpting, log-sawing, snowman-making and pond hockey. Feb. 15–17.

Fourth weekend of February

International Eelpout Festival in Walker, MN It's fun just to wander (or drive) around Leech Lake during this event, which includes mechanical bull riding, bikini ice fishing and a beer pong tournament. Be sure to have some 'pout nuggets, which are as tasty as the fish is ugly. Feb. 20–23.

Crashed Ice World Championship in St. Paul, MN Red Bull is returning with the extreme sport of ice cross downhill, or high-speed skating on a downhill course from the Cathedral of St. Paul. Feb. 20–22. Shuttle and parking information

Bald Eagle Appreciation Days in Prairie du Chien, WI Birding experts give programs and lead field trips. At the Wisconsin Travel Information Center, just off the bridge into town, volunteers man spotting scopes. Feb. 21–22.

Bockfest at Capital Brewery in Middleton, WI This Madison-area brewery celebrates with the Running of the Blondes 1K race, a fish throw, music, costumes and, of course, beer. Tickets sell out, so buy early. Feb. 22.

WolfTrack Classic Sled Dog Race in Ely, MN There's a dog weight pull competition and mushers lasagna feed Saturday and the race to Tower and back on Sunday. Feb. 22–23.

Perkinstown Outhouse Race in Medford, WI Bring your own throne to this race at the nearby Perkinstown Winter Sports Area. Teams of four pushers and one squatter compete for the titles "hardest pushers'' and "prettiest potty.'' Feb. 22.

Art Shanty Projects in White Bear Lake, MN Frozen White Bear Lake in this northern St. Paul suburb hosts two dozen artist-designed ice houses and lots of fun art antics. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; check for scheduled events. Feb. 22–23.

International Tongue Twister Contest in Burlington, WI Spit out a peck of pickled peppers at this event at the downtown Logic Puzzle Museum. Prizes for winners and door prizes for everyone. Feb. 22.

International Festival in 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. There's also food and a global bazaar. Feb. 22.

Coopersville Outhouse 500 in Coopersville, MI In this town just east of Grand Haven, there's a parade of decorated outhouses at 11 a.m., followed by races and a decorated toilet seat contest and auction. Feb. 22.

Frozen Tozen Winter Fest in Boulder Junction, WI There's turkey bowling, ice golf, snowshoe races and ice fishing in this resort town north of Minocqua. Feb. 22.

Grumpy Old Men Festival in 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. 22.

Schnee Days in Elkhart Lake, WI The Snow Days festival in this town in east-central Wisconsin includes a hunt for colored ice cubes, dog sledding and a chili cook-off. Feb. 22–23.

A ski jumper in Westby.

Beth Gauper

A skier flies down the hill at the Snowflake Ski Jumping Tournament in Westby, Wis.

First weekend of March

Winter Festival in Bayfield, WI The Lake Superior festival features the Run on Water to Madeline Island, snow kiting, ice-cube hunt, a polar plunge and a winter run and obstacle course. Feb. 28–Mar 2.

Bock Fest in New Ulm, MN There's a parade of mythical Germanic characters, a hunt for billy-goat heads on the Schell Brewery grounds and beyond and a big party afterward with beer, live music and a bonfire. March 1.

Sock Monkey Madness Festival in Rockford, IL This town in northern Illinois made the red-heeled socks from which the famous stuffed toys were created during the Depression; make your own sock money or elephant and watch the Miss Sockford pageant and film fest. March 1–2.

Sleeping Giant Loppet in Thunder Bay, ON Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is the setting for this tour and race, which includes live entertainment, food and a choice of four distances, 10, 20, 35 and 50 kilometers. March 1.

World's Longest Weenie Roast in Cable, WI Lakewoods Resorts hosts this benefit on Lake Namekagon, which includes snowmobile speed runs, ice bowling and a frozen weenie polar plunge. March 1.

Klondike Days in Eagle River, WI There's a lot to see: a fur-trade encampment, powwow, dog weight pull, lumberjack show and chainsaw-carving contest, plus snowshoe races and sleigh rides. March 1–2.

Soar With Eagles in Wabasha, MN The National Eagle Center holds live-bird programs and nature presentations weekends in March, when bald eagles migrate northward along the Mississippi. March 1–2.

A Westby princess and a ski jumper.

Beth Gauper

A Snowflake princess congratulates a jumper at the Snowflake Ski Jumping Tournament in Westby, Wis.

Second weekend in March

International Festival of Owls in Houston, MN This southeast Minnesota town offers owl prowls, hooting contests, pellet dissection, live-owl programs and children's activities. March 7–9.

Canoecopia in Madison, WI It's the world's largest paddlesports expo, according to host Rutabaga, with dozens of demonstrations, workshops and presentations plus discounts on boats and gear. Bike-O-Rama, with discounts on bicycles and gear, is next door. At Alliant Energy Center. March 7–9.

Mush for a Cure in Gunflint Trail, MN This event begins with a "sourdough start'' -- mushers wait inside sleeping bags for a shotgun blast, then race to put on boots and hook up teams for a fun run. Everyone wears pink, including the dogs, and a party follows. There are also human sled-dog races, sky lanterns and skijoring. March 7–8.

Balloon Rally & Snowshoe Championships in Cable, WI Hot-air balloonists give rides for charity, weather permitting, and athletes compete in the Braveheart Midwest Snowshoe Racing Championships. There's a balloon glow in the evening. Hosted by Lakewoods Resort. March 7–9.

Artigras in Green Bay, WI This fine arts festival in Shopko Hall includes artist demonstrations, children's activities, dance, jazz and classical music. March 8–9.

Celtic Fest in Moorhead, MN This free festival at the Hjemkomst Center includes two entertainment stages, heritage programs, arts and crafts, interactive booths and Celtic food and treats. March 8.

Winter Powwow in West Allis, WI This traditional powwow with drumming, singing and food is the winter version of Indian Summer Festival. At Wisconsin State Fair Park. Grand entries are 1 and 7 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday. March 8–9.

Tour Duluth in Duluth, MN A free tour of Duluth's excellent cross-country trails for skiers of ages and abilities, hosted by the Duluth XC Ski Club. A potluck follows. March 8.

Soar With Eagles in Wabasha, MN The National Eagle Center holds live-bird programs and nature presentations weekends in March, when bald eagles migrate northward along the Mississippi. March 8–9.

For the best events in spring, see Great spring festivals.



Last updated on February 17, 2014
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