By Jeniece Smith
The only thing more abundant than the snow in Wisconsin is our state’s creativity for enjoying it. Not only do we hike, glide, skate and ride our way through winter, but our communities embrace this brisk season with outdoor festivals aplenty.
Here are 10 ways to get outside and have a blast before the flurries stop flying.
Watch snow transform into ephemeral artwork as teams from across the country converge on the lakeshore to compete in this sculpting showdown. There are plenty of hot things to eat and drink too, and cool offerings like ice skating and sled dog racing.
This dazzling display of gigantic kites by world-class flying teams bookends the area’s Winterfest celebration and snow sculpting competition. Kids will love the kite-making workshops and flying lessons from experts.
Here in Wisconsin, if you can make it slide down a hill, you can race it. In fact, this event’s open class allows participants to race anything – as long as it’s on skis.
The main event, however, is the hilarious bar-stool-on-skis races, which any competitor is lucky to finish upright. Have some hot chili, cold beer and spill-inspired laughs.
How about a nighttime ski or snowshoe across Lake Superior’s frozen surface? Luminaries and starlight guide your way across Chequamegon Bay from Ashland to Washburn. Finish the 10K with live music, fireworks and a heated food tent.
If you prefer solid ground under your feet, try this romantic candlelit hike, ski and snowshoe at Wisconsoin’s oldest state park, set along the gorgeous St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. Warm up with fires at trailheads and refreshments at the Ice Age Center.
Chug through the scenic Sauk County countryside in vintage train car warmed by steam or a coal-fired stove. With a uniformed ticket-taker spinning yarns of railroad days gone by, you’ll feel like a passenger on the Polar Express.
The headlining event of Wisconsin’s incomparable Birkie brings 12,000 cross-country skiers from across the world to the winter playground of the Northwoods. There are plenty of spots along the route where you can see the action and cheer on competitors.
Celebrate the magnificence of bald eagles as these American emblems settle into their wintering grounds along the Mississippi River Valley. Birding experts will offer outdoor scope viewing, with a life-size nest, other educational displays and craft activities for kids.
The annual Pig-in-the-Ice Winter Festival at the Sheboygan County Marsh Park features a pig roast, ice fishing tournament, ice cube hunts and a fireworks display.
Experience the excitement of this annual winter-time adventure as mushers race through the forests of the Bayfield Peninsula. A bonfire, warming tent and concessions are available at the race’s main viewing area.
What other creative fun have Wisconsinites devised to enjoy the season? Check out these five wild winter sports.