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

Related Articles

Ice Castle Wonderland Lights Up the Night in Stillwater

Ice structures shaped like frozen waterfalls, ice slides, tunnels and mazes bring a little magic to the chilly winter season.

Top Minnesota Events in January

Moveable Feast: MnMo editor Rachel Hutton and MPR Classical’s John Birge preview top events in the state this month

The Great Northern: Minnesota's Newest Tradition

The collection of outdoor food and drink events features some of the Twin Cities' best chefs
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

Recent Minnesota Journeys Posts

Ice Castle Wonderland Lights Up the Night in Stillwater

Ice structures shaped like frozen waterfalls, ice slides, tunnels and mazes bring a little magic to the chilly winter season.

Top Minnesota Events in January

Moveable Feast: MnMo editor Rachel Hutton and MPR Classical’s John Birge preview top events in the state this month

The Great Northern: Minnesota's Newest Tradition

The collection of outdoor food and drink events features some of the Twin Cities' best chefs

Top 5 Outdoor Ice Rinks in the Twin Cities

From the classic favorites to new additions, lace up (and bundle up) at these popular metro ice skating rinks

Minnesota Holiday Events Guide

From bright lights, to shopping, to Santa’s jolly grin, these festive events throughout the state are sure to enhance your holiday spirit
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags