Winter Festivals in the Mitten
Oh boy, do we love our festivals in Michigan. All summer long we have music festivals, film festivals and arts festivals. Festivals celebrating our heritage: Greek, Danish, Polish and many more. There’s a festival for everything that grows here: Cherry Fest, Peach Fest, Lilac Fest – the list goes on and on. When the days get blustery, don’t despair. Just because the temperatures have dropped and the snow is flying it doesn’t mean our festival fun is over. Michigan has nearly as many festivals in the winter as we do in the summer. Here are just a few, but there are many more in our great state’s villages, cities and townships. So bundle up and head out to a festival near you.
If you love traditional holiday celebrations …
• Dickens Festival, Holly
Starting Thanksgiving weekend and running through Christmas, step back in time and enjoy the smell of hot cocoa and the sounds of carolers in the transformed village. Street performers complete the feeling and you may even run into Mr. Scrooge himself.
• Christmas in the Village, Escanaba
Old-fashioned fun for the family each December. Enjoy sleigh rides, roasting chestnuts, handcrafted wares for sale by local artisans and visits with Father Christmas.
• Christkindlmarkt, Bay Harbor
See Bay Harbor transformed into a traditional European Christmas market. There are performances of The Nutcracker, German food, a steel drum band and crafts for kids at Santa’s Workshop.
For Winter Sports Enthusiasts…
• Tip-Up Town USA, Houghton Lake
This ice fishing festival knows how to party. With carnival rides, concerts and a polar plunge, there’s something for everyone. This festival is always held the last two weekends in January.
• UP200 Sled Dog Races
This 220-mile race of 12-dog teams is an Iditarod qualifier. Thousands of spectators line the starting gate and the trail from February 16-20 to cheer on the mushers and their dogs on this days-long race.
• Labatt Blue U.P. Pond Hockey Championships, St. Ignace
With different skill brackets, this four-on-four tournament has fun for all on Lake Huron. Over the weekend of February 16-19, more than 150 teams compete on the frozen pond.
• Michigan Ice Fest, Munising
If you’ve ever wanted to try ice climbing, this is your chance. This festival from February 8-12 lets you watch the world’s best climbers, but also try it out yourself with equipment rentals and lessons for beginners, all at the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
If You’re Trying to Enjoy the Snow and Ice This Year…
• Winterfest, Grand Haven
There’s so much family fun to be had January 26-29 with homemade cardboard sled races, snow angel contests, family dog pull, snow volleyball, a bonfire bash and more.
• Winter Carnival, Michigan Technological University, Houghton
One of the largest winter festivals in the nation, Michigan Tech has been celebrating the snow for over 100 years with games, skits, sleigh rides, huge student-made snow sculptures, broomball tournaments and more. February 8-11.
• World of Winter Festival, Grand Rapids
This free festival has over 80 ice sculptures and art installations throughout downtown Grand Rapids. There are also guided history walks through historic Grand Rapids. This free program runs during January and February.