5 Winter Festivals to Beat Those Late-Winter Blues
Let’s face it, by the end of January, even the most dedicated snow bunnies can get a little antsy. The best way to beat the cold-weather blues is to get out and enjoy the season. Whether you’re into music, beer or winter sports, there are still plenty of great winter events planned around the country. From the artsy Winterfest in Bend, Oregon, to the creepy-but-fun Frozen Dead Guy Days in Colorado, these winter events will cure even the stubbornest winter doldrums. So take advantage of the snow, the ice, and the nip in the air by heading to one of these five fun, and sometimes a little weird, late-winter festivals.
Steamboat Spring Winter Carnival, Steamboat Springs, Colorado; February 8-12
The country’s oldest winter festival, Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival, is an action-packed week of snow and sports. This is definitely the top pick for skiers and snowboarders with a sense of humor.
Steamboat Springs has competitive sports events for every age and skill level, from pro-level alpine ski jumping, to the crowd favorite “Donkey Jump,” where kids jump a ramp on skis while being pulled by a horse.
If you’d like to get in on the fun and break a sweat, join the cross country obstacle race on the 9th, or the dual slalom mountain bike race on the 10th. You can also learn to ski jump, and even watch the pros. The carnival’s big event is the pro alpine ski jumping finals on the 12th.
Winterfest, Bend, Oregon; February 17-19
Bend prides itself in being one of the hippest destinations for snow-lovers in the country. Along with excellent skiing and snowboarding, Bend offers the great food, beer and wine that Oregon is famous for, year-round.
Winterfest is all about celebrating the season Oregon-style, with plenty of great food, music, and winter events. There’s a pop-up rail jam for skiers and snowboarders, sponsored by a local brewery, and world-class food and drink vendors all weekend long. But the most famous, and distinctive, event of Winterfest is the Fire Pit Competition, where sculptors, welders, and all kinds of metalworkers compete to build the most fantastic fire pits along the banks of the Deschutes River. Spectators can come, grab a beer, and enjoy these unique campfire creations, in a beautiful natural setting.
Fur Rendezvous, Anchorage, Alaska; February 24 - March 5
Nowhere in the country does winter like Alaska, so if you really want to rekindle your love for all things cold and snowy, head to Anchorage for Fur Rendezvous 2017. “Fur Rondy,” as it’s also called, is Alaska’s biggest winter festival, so you know it’s big.
Along with music, art, and a winter carnival, Fur Rondy hosts the world championships of outdoor hockey, plus a spectacular snow-sculpture competition. But the biggest reason to head to Fur Rondy is, of course, the sled-dog races. Over three days, the best sled dog teams in the world mush along a 25-mile course right through the city of Anchorage, competing for guts and glory.
Frozen Dead Guy Days, Nederland, Colorado; March 10-12
Colorado’s Frozen Dead Guy Days might be the weirdest winter fest in the country, starting with its macabre beginnings. The festival celebrates Nederland, Colorado’s own frozen dead guy: the late Grandpa Bredo Morstoel, an advocate of cryogenic technology who’s been frozen since his death in 1989. The city of Nederland is now in charge of caring for Morstoel’s body and keeping him frozen, and they celebrate this odd claim to fame every year with Frozen Dead Guy Days.
The whole festival offers frosty, morbid fun, including a frozen grandpa lookalike contest, polar plunge, and “coffin races.” There’s also “icy turkey bowling” (with a frozen turkey as the ball) and a competitive salmon toss for more weird frozen fun. Along with the off-beat events, FDGD (as the locals call it) offers tons of great food, beer, and music all weekend.
If you still haven’t gotten your fill of winter festivals by April, then head to Mammoth Mountain for their annual Pond Skim, where the most adventurous skiers and snowboarders don wacky costumes and race across an icy-cold (but not frozen!) pond. If you want to compete, grab your board early, because only the first fifty competitors at registration will get a spot in the race. And don’t bother unless you’re in costume (the crazier the better); skiers and snowboarders without costumes need not apply.
Even if you don’t get to compete, check out the Pond Skim for an awesome spectacle and a great day of springtime snow. This winter has been a snowy one in the Sierra Nevadas, so it’s a good time to head to California with your skis. After Pond Skim, grab your skis or board and enjoy the powder at Mammoth Mountain, or head to the party at the nearby Canyon Beach Bar.
If the winter blues are getting to you, grab your boots, hat and skis, and head to one of these awesome winter festivals. January might be coming to a close, but there’s still plenty of snowy fun to be had in 2017.