Edit ModuleShow Tags

A Northern Tradition


Published:

While the Saint Paul Winter Carnival might be dominating the headlines, head north just a few hours and discover another winter festival unique unto itself. Hidden among the unspoiled lakes and forests of northeastern Minnesota, the Ely Winter Festival offers a decidedly vintage take on the winter carnival tradition. Now in its twentieth year, the 10-day festival (running from Feb. 1-10) celebrates the area’s legendary French voyageur history, attracting aspiring fur trappers and winter enthusiasts alike with its storied traditions.

Photo by Terri Schocke

The festival kicks off on Friday, Feb. 1 with a spaghetti feed benefitting local youth and families in need, followed by the Opening Ceremonies Concert. As a wink to the venerable Olympic torch, the ceremony includes a “passing of the paddle” to this year’s Grand Marshals.

Throughout the first weekend, enormous snow sculptures begin to take shape in Whiteside Park, culminating in the festival’s biggest draw, the International Snow Sculpting Symposium. More than 20 large “expert” blocks and 20 smaller “amateur” blocks are meticulously carved and whittled by three-person teams into masterful pieces of snow art recreating famous pieces of literature.

For the art lover in the family, the Ely ArtWalk (stretching all ten days of the festival) transforms downtown into a vibrant art district and outdoor gallery. Created to promote local established and emerging artists, shop windows are filled with works of art, many of which are for sale. Last year, more than 400 works of art by 120 artists were displayed.

The packed festival schedule also includes the second annual Polar Bear Dance, a craft fair, musical concerts, sled dog rides, an ice-fishing contest, and a historic Voyageur Encampment, complete with authentic garb.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

About This Blog

Whether you are a seasoned Twin Cities traveler or planning your first trip to Minnesota, this blog will introduce you to many new adventures to add to your itinerary. From day trips and scenic discoveries to luxurious girls weekends, travel tips, and insider scoops, our editors will give you all the information you need to enjoy your stay Up North.

Learn about the contributing writers.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Travel Blog

Summer Nanny Bucket List

Unleash your inner child at these fun Twin Cities locations

Brews and Bonfires

Who doesn't love craft suds and yard games on a summer night?

6 Paddle Board Rentals in Minnesota

Lake Waconia, Bde Maka Ska and Lake Itasca are just a few of the rental destinations that make for an easy afternoon of paddle boarding

Duluth in Three Days

Duluth has a lot to offer the weekend warriors

6 Foods to Pack for the Cabin

Don't head north to the cabin without these delicious necessities

Seeing a Casino as a Campus

Mystic Lake Center, which opened at the beginning of the year, is just one of the features that make Mystic Lake more than a casino

Stone Arch Bridge Festival

A party that's as beloved as the bridge itself

Minnesota Drive-In Movie Theaters

No matter what your age is, drive-in movie theaters make for a fun retro outing

Summer Events for Food Lovers

From quirky small town get-togethers to “The Great Minnesota Get-Together,” make sure not to miss these summer events celebrating delicious food.

Find New Adventures In Minnesota With These Engaging Experiences

Minnesota—where you can drive bulldozers for fun

3 Last-Minute Camping Options

Plan a camping trip on the fly—Minnesota's good for it

Chalkfest at Arbor Lakes

Enjoy a two-day free street festival dedicated to the art of chalk, June 9-10

Five Favorite Twin Cities Beaches

Canoe rentals, lakeside eats, and more await at these five beaches

Top 7 Escape Rooms in the Twin Cities

Whether you want to be an FBI Agent, an astronaut, a thief, or even a wizard, all are possibilities in these impressive escape rooms around the Twin Cities.
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags