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11 Wintery Wisconsin Festivals (Perfect for a Day Trip)

Image: facebook.com/IceCastlesMN
The Ice Castles (Stillwater, Minnesota). Image: facebook.com/IceCastlesMN

If you’re looking for ways to get out of the house in the coming weeks, take a peek at some upcoming winter celebrations listed below. Most of these festivals are a reasonable distance from Eau Claire – perfect for a day trip with your friends or family.


1. The Ice Castles

Stillwater, Minnesota (1 hr 16 min from Eau Claire)

Jan. 6-Feb. 28 – The ice castles of downtown Stillwater are still open! Besides touring the ice castles, the princesses from Frozen will be there from noon to 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Fire shows will be performed Fridays and Saturdays 7pm until 10pm, too. For more information about their hours of operation, tickets, parking, and events, go here.

2. Rochester WinterFest

Rochester, Minnesota (1 hr 59 min)

Jan. 18-Feb. 18 – Enjoy community-centered activities at this 16th annual festival in Rochester, Minnesota. Anticipate wintertime events filled with food, music, and entertainment. Among them will be the Candlelight Ski, Baconfest, sleigh rides, and the Cool School Plunge. View their website.

3. Saint Paul Winter Carnival

Saint Paul, Minnesota (1 hr 23 min)

Jan. 25-Feb. 10 – Consider taking your family to the Saint Paul Winter Carnival this year. There will be special attractions such as a Fire & Ice art show, parades, the Ice Palace Lighting Show, and much more. The carnival takes place near Rice Park and the Landmark Center, and the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. The majority of events are FREE and open to the public. Go here for more information.

Madison Winter Festival. Image: facebook.com/madisonwinterfestival
Madison Winter Festival. Image: facebook.com/madisonwinterfestival

4. Madison Winter Festival

Madison, Wisconsin (2 hr 47 min)

Feb. 3-4 – Join the Madison community in celebrating their Winter Festival in Elver Park. Look forward to snow carving, the Ice Age Challenge, and the Frosty 5k. Read all about it.

5. Winter Carnival

Luck, Wisconsin (1 hr 35 min)

Feb. 8-11 – You’re in Luck! Check out the Winter Carnival for traditional fair festivities, an ice fishing contest, a parade, and fireworks. View their event information.

6. Ham Lake Snowbowl

Ham Lake, Minnesota (1 hr 50 min)

Feb. 10 – The events of the Ham Lake Snowbowl include a fat tire bike race, a broomball tournament, and a snow sculpture contest. Follow clues to locate the Snowbowl Medallion and win some cash! Find out more.

7. Freeze Fest

Whitewater, Wisconsin (3 hr 16 min)

Feb. 10-11 – The Freeze Fest of Whitewater will benefit the Special Olympics by hosting the Polar Plunge and a chili cook-off. More details here.

8. Bar Stool Races

Drummond, Wisconsin (2 hr 12 min)

Feb. 17 – How do you race bar stools on snow? Attach them to skis! The participants decorate their own bar stools and will begin racing at 12pm. Fill up on food and drinks, then join in the raffle for a chance to win prizes. Check it out here.

9. Winter Fest

Chetek, Wisconsin (42 min)

Feb. 23-24 – Have fun at Winter Fest in Chetek. They’ll have activities for all ages including races and sledding, and other winter-themed events throughout Friday and Saturday. Learn more about Winter Fest here.

10. Grumpy Old Men Festival

Wabasha, Minnesota (1 hr 7 min)

Feb. 23-24 – Did you enjoy the 1993 comedy Grumpy Old Men? If so, you may want to check out the 25th annual Grumpy Old Men Festival where the movie was set. This festival will feature a showing of the film, an ice fishing contest, live music, a spaghetti dinner, and more. Go here for more details.

11. Neillsville Winter Carnival

Neillsville Wisconsin (59 min)

Feb. 23-25 – Head out to Neillsville for their Winter Carnival to see a Variety & Comedy Show, eat some pancakes, or volunteer for the Polar Plunge. To read more about this event, go here.

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