As winter storms barrel through the Midwest, Great Plains and Northeast, some of the coolest winter festivals are capitalizing on the cold.
Winter storm Harper prompted the cancellation of more than 4,600 flights this past Friday. Who knows what’s next. If your attendees find themselves in a precarious winter flight cancellation situation, consider hooking them up with a local winter festival to kill the time.
Here are 7 of our favorites to consider.
Breckenridge, Colorado, may be known for its skiing, but the annual International Snow Sculpture Championships (ISSC) that are underway share another facet of the city’s personality. On the heels of the annual Ullr Fest, a Viking-inspired festival of winter games, ISSC pits international sculpting teams—some coming from as far as Mongolia—against each other to create masterpieces out of a single block of snow.
The country’s largest ice climbing party happens every January in Ouray, Colorado, where climbers of all levels scale frozen cliffs for an array of prizes, including the latest outdoor gear. Beer tents, film premieres, music, food and dance parties are also part of this one, and there are more than 100 interactive and educational climbing clinics for all skill levels.
January 24-February 3
The St. Paul Winter Carnival is the nation’s largest and oldest winter festival. A “royal family and Vulcan Krewe” oversee all of the activities, which evoke a wintery Mardi Gras-meets-mythology vibe with parades, live music, wintery craft cocktails and a Bailey’s Warming House. Groups can partake in a scavenger hunt, ice carving, food truck tastings, art shows and beer tastings.
Madison, Wisconsin’s two-day winter fest features skijoring clinics (skiing with your dog), snow and ice carving, a candlelight ski and snowshoe tour, snowshoe obstacle course, live music, “fatbike” races and more.
February 14-March 31
With winter activities like ice fishing, snowmobiling and snowshoeing combined with crisp and pristine wilderness, every winter season in Fairbanks, Alaska, has a winter wonderland vibe. Groups can take in the snow-covered landscape aboard the Aurora Winter Train from Anchorage to Fairbanks, experience the Northern Lights and the World Ice Art Championships, all in a day.
Formerly known as the Bend Winterfest, the Oregon Winterfest in Bend, Oregon, happens in the shadow of the Cascade Mountains. Groups can participate in a “Snow Warriors” obstacle course, fire pits and ice sculptures that illuminate the Deschutes River, a marketplace with local goods, a hot cocoa run and wine walk.
February 16–24, 2019
The legendary, nine-day Mountain Festival happens every winter in Tahoe, California’s adventure community. This year, there are more than 75 events scheduled. Groups can try ski tours and clinics, snowshoe hikes, mountain yoga and film screenings, and workshops on natural history, garden-to-glass mixology, photography, backcountry bartending and astronomy.