Northern Michigan festivals in winter are meant to get outdoors and you’ll be glad you left winter hibernation behind. Here’s a list of Northern Michigan’s winter festivals in Bay Harbor, Boyne City, Frankfort and more.
Bay Harbor Ice and Spice
Ice carving and chili tastings are anchors of this celebration at Bay Harbor (near Petoskey) that organizers say now attracts thousands. Set for Jan. 17–18, 2014, the event features carving competitions for professionals and amateurs alike—each competitor has 12 hours to carve 10 blocks of ice. “A lot of people come down Friday night to see these ice blocks transform,” says marketing coordinator Michelle Denise. The 12th annual chili cook-off also includes family-friendly outdoor activities like covered horse and carriage rides around the village, “ice block” fire pits with s’more stations, sled dog musher rides, snowboard demos, and fireworks, villageatbayharbor.com/events.
North American Snow Festival in Cadillac
This year marks the 30th annual North American Snow Festival. With most of its events held along the Lake Cadillac shoreline, the festival takes place Jan. 30–Feb. 2, 2014. A chili cook-off kicks off the weekend Thursday night with a poker fun run, sleigh rides, grilling contest and entertainment set for Friday. Saturday and Sunday activities include ice fishing, motorcycle and snowmobile races on Lake Cadillac, polar bear dip, four-wheel slush cup and snow sculptures. New for 2014: an arm wrestling tournament that’s part of a “fight night” featuring wrestling. 800.22.LAKES or 231.775.0657.
Winter Fest in Indian River
Family fun at this annual event includes the popular Sprint Sled Dog Races, poker run, snowman-building contest, snowshoe hike, Taste of Indian River, and broomball, among other activities. The celebration runs Jan. 24–25 2014. 231.238.9325, irchamber.com.
Tip Up Town in Houghton Lake
Now in its 64th year, Houghton Lake’s yearly winter fest remains a beloved ritual for Northern Michigan devotees. Held the last two weekends in January—Jan. 17–19 and Jan. 24–26, 2014—Tip Up Town promises “family fun for all.” Carnival rides, family entertainment tent, stage games, pony rides, family skate night and a fishing contest are just some of the activities offered. Back again for 2014: snowmobile drag races. For the brave and adventurous: a polar bear dip. $20 gets you into the frigid water—and a commemorative sweatshirt you’ll definitely need afterward. 800.248.5253, 989.366.5644, houghtonlakechamber.net.
Michigan Tech’s Winter Carnival
A wintry tradition now in its 93rd year, the 2014 version of commemorating the area’s character-building climate is set for Feb. 5–8. This year’s theme: “Nostalgic Films of Childhood Days Come to Life in Frosty Ways!” With more than 200 inches of snow falling in Houghton each winter, Michigan Tech students are pros at not letting “this abundant natural resource go to waste,” as they say. How to do this? Ice bowling, snow statues, human dog sled races, broomball and, with skits and songs, showing off facial hair growth (the contest starts in December and culminates with judging at Winter Carnival). Events take place on campus and at various Houghton/Hancock locations. mtu.edu/carnival/ Contact Blue Key National Honor Fraternity for details, 906.487.2818.
Winterfest in Beulah
Always held the second weekend of February, Winterfest in Beulah has loads of family-friendly outdoor fun, even a frozen fish toss, plus a breathtaking fireworks display over Crystal Lake. Other activities: snowmobile poker run, co-ed softball tournament, frozen turkey bowling, chili cook-off and parade. This year’s event is slated for Feb. 8. 800.882.5801, visitbenzie.com.
Boyne City Winterfest
Boyne City’s annual Winterfest is set for Jan. 25 in downtown, with nearly every event free. Cross-country ski events for children in Veterans Park, ski tours on city trails, games, sidewalk sales, ice sculptures and snowman-making are among the activities taking place. Also visit downtown Feb. 14–15 for the sixth annual “Chocolate-Covered Boyne,” a celebration of sweet treats and romance that includes the “Wine, Women and Chocolate” concert at 8 p.m., Feb. 15. The concert features three women singer/songwriters, including gallery co-owner Robin Lee Berry. Chocolate-Covered Boyne also offers chocolate tastings, entertainment and special discounts at local businesses. 231.582.6222, boynechamber.com.
Shiver by the River in Frankfort
Frozen bowling takes to Main Street during this festival, now in its fifth year, set for Feb. 15–16 in downtown Frankfort and Elberta. Other family-friendly events and sights: winter parade, Betsie Bay Frozen 5K, chili cook-off at the Cabbage Shed in Elberta, “Kids SnoWorld,” warming stations, games and ice sculptures. 231.352.7251, frankfort-elberta.com.
Women’s Winter Tour
Grab your girlfriends for this wintry event in February that combines outdoor exhilaration (snowshoeing and cross-country skiing) with indoor relaxation (wine tasting and delicious food). The 16th annual event starts in Traverse City and ends at Black Star Farms in Leelanau County. The Tour, whose proceeds benefit several nonprofits, remains a female tradition held the same weekend as the Super Bowl. womenswintertour.com.