Zehnders Snowfest 5

THE BEST Michigan Winter Festivals You Won’t Want to Miss

If you’re looking for ice festivals, snow festivals, or other winter festivals in Michigan to experience, here are a few of the best Michigan winter festivals this weekend and all winter long, no matter what region you are in! 

Michigan is famous for a few things, with one of them being the sheer amount of ice and snow the state gets each winter! Thanks to its proximity to the Great Lakes and its northern location, the Mitten State has a unique wintery climate. But that doesn’t stop the locals from celebrating the season, often outside in the icy streets.

Michigan Winter Festivals in the Upper Peninsula

Michigan Tech Winter Carnival | Houghton


The annual Michigan Tech Winter Carnival is famous in the Upper Peninsula and has been hosted for a century! Taking place in mid-February, the carnival is a unique celebration of the heavy snowfall northern Michigan experiences.

Visitors have the chance to play outdoor games, see snow and ice sculptures, go on sleigh rides, and crown a Winter Queen. There are also comedy sketches and other performances put on by the students of Michigan Tech. There are prizes for the best snow sculptures as well! 

Winter Carnival, Houghton - Winter Festivals
Michigan Tech Winter Carnival | photo via @wellfedfamilia

Sault Ste Marie Downtown Winter Ice Festival | Sault Ste Marie


Every February, the downtown area of Sault Ste Marie becomes an art gallery of one-of-a-kind ice sculptures. This winter festival is about all things ice, including live carvings and even the chance for kids to free prizes from blocks of ice.

The day also includes a Penguin Parade and plenty of food, drink, and other games and activities. The festival concludes with an evening ice war, where sculptors do a competitive ice carving with chainsaws. The winner is chosen based on crowd votes.

Sault Ste Marie, Sault Ste Marie - Winter Festivals
Sault Ste Marie | photo via @northstareap

Michigan Ice Festival | Munising


In some of the iciest spots off of Lake Superior, locals host the annual Michigan Ice Fest. This isn’t just a time to celebrate — instead, it is the chance to take part in ice climbing, a unique and exciting outdoor sport unlike any you’ve tried before.

Visitors of any skill level are welcome to participate, with classes and gear available for beginners. This festival, a Munising winter tradition for 30 years, should be a destination for anyone who loves outdoor winter sports.

Michigan Ice Festival, Munising - Winter Festivals
Michigan Ice Festival | photo via @laura_simonsen_braun

Christmas in the Village | Escanaba 

If you love old Christmas traditions and the feeling of classic Yuletide cheer, this festival is perfect for you. The Antique Village, as it is known, hosts an “old-fashioned” holiday event that includes all the things that make the holidays feel warm and bright. There are decorations, lights, and Christmas carols galore, as well as bonfires and sleigh rides.

You will also find complementary and for-sale treats such as hot chestnuts, cocoa, popcorn, and Christmas cookies. Make sure to enter your name in the raffle for the chance to win a handmade quilt! Watch this amazing video of Christmas in the Village.

Tahquamenon Sled Dog Race | Muskallonge State Park 


You have probably read about sled dog races, but you may not have had the chance to see one happen! The annual Tahquamenon sled dog race has been a tradition in Muskallonge State Park since 1999. It includes both hobby and professional race teams and features plenty of races throughout the weekend.

There will also be food trucks on-site so that onlookers can enjoy barbecue, hot cocoa, and other treats as they enjoy the race beside a bonfire.

Tahquamenon Sled Dog Race, Muskallonge State Park  - Winter Festivals
Tahquamenon Sled Dog Race | photo via @basalttamaskan

Heikki Lunta Festival | Negaunee


Heikki Lunta is a figure of folklore that you won’t find anywhere outside of Michigan. This legend was formed by the Scandinavian immigrants in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. These celebrations are totally unique to the communities here!

Heikki Lunta is considered the embodiment of winter. In his honor, the annual festival is a celebration of all things wintery and cold! There are food and games galore, as well as plenty of crafts and activities as well as a parade.

Heikki Lunta, Negaunee - Winter Festivals
Heikki Lunta | photo via @redjacket906

Winter Festivals in Northern Michigan (Lower Peninsula)

Alpena Ice Fest | Alpena


Alpena Ice Fest, held in mid-February, is a throwback to the city’s Winter Carnival, which was held between the early 1930s and the 1960s. This free public event in Northeast Michigan provides a full day of winter fun for the entire family. There’s something for everyone, from ice sculpting and demonstrations to food and entertainment!

Watching the dueling ice sculptors from Ice Creations of Napoleon Ohio is one of the most interesting things to do at the festival. In addition, dozens of other ice sculptures, including some by local sculptors and artists, will be on display throughout the park and Downtown Alpena.

Also, there will be ski demos to watch, Siberian husky sled dogs to meet, a snow hill to sled down, prepackaged s’mores to eat by a huge bonfire, and horse-drawn wagon rides to enjoy. You can even do some ice bowling and take a selfie with the Ice Frame sculpture.

You can even get in touch with your competitive side by participating in contests such as amateur snowman and snow angel building, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, and amateur fat tire biking.

Tip Up Town USA | Houghton Lake


Tip Up Town USA is all about competitive, fun outdoor winter events! If you love breaking a sweat out in the snow, this festival should be on your list. Every year, the people of Houghton Lake come together for some cold weather fun, including a 5k race, tug-of-war, games, an ice fishing competition, and snowmobile drag racing.

Anyone feeling particularly brave is welcome to take part in the Polar Bear Dip in Lake Michigan. If you’d rather watch, there is plenty to enjoy from the sidelines, including food and live entertainment.

Tip-Up Town Usa, Houghton Lake - Winter Festivals
Tip-UP Town USA | photo via @diamond_sams

Winter Weekend in Downtown Petoskey | Petoskey


Petoskey’s Winter Weekend is a laid-back celebration of all things wintery and bright. From touring the 30 ice sculptures on display to shopping for deals in the local shops, this is the kind of event where visitors are welcome to come when they like and stay as long as they want.

There are also plenty of special treats to be had, including local wines and dinner deals. If you love relaxed browsing and shopping, Petoskey’s annual Winter Weekend is perfect for you.

While you’re there, be sure to explore more of the best winter things to do in Petoskey!

Winter Weekend - Petoskey, Petoskey - Winter Festivals
Winter Weekend – Petoskey | photo via @sueteller

Christkindlmarkt in the Village | Bay Harbor 


Don’t miss experiencing Bay Harbor Michigan all decked out in Christmas cheer during Christkindlmarkt in the Village. The Nutcracker Ballet will be performed at the Great Lakes Center for the Arts, and a typical European market will take place.

This wintertime celebration in northern Michigan will enchant you with artisans, live music, dancing, German food, and a beer tent.

Pure Ludington Brrrewfest | Ludington


Most people want to stay inside when the weather drops, but not the people of Ludington. Instead, they decide to face the Michigan winter with a drink (or many) in hand! The annual Pure Ludington Brrrewfest puts local craft beers on spotlight, with live music and tasting menus galore.

Hosted at three breweries in downtown Ludington, there is something for everyone here, from local beers, wines, and liquors to delicious food. Whether you’re a craft beer connoisseur or just enjoy the chance to have a drink with friends, the Ludington Brrrewfest is unmissable. 

Pure Ludington Brrrewfest, Ludington - Winter Festivals
Pure Ludington Brrrewfest | photo via @polkadots_pints

Traverse City Restaurant Week | Traverse City 


Every February in Traverse City, visitors get the chance to try the unique menus of local restaurants throughout the region. The participating restaurants change annually, with options such as local breweries, coffee shops, cafes, steakhouses, bistros, and fine dining.

If you choose to patronize one of these local Traverse City restaurants and post about it on social media, you might qualify for a $75 gift card to any of the participating venues. But even if you don’t, this event still offers the chance to try some amazing new food while supporting local businesses in Traverse City.

Make a weekend of it and enjoy some more of these winter things to do in Traverse City!

Benzie Winterfest | Beulah


Michiganders know how to beat the winter blues by embracing the cold and snow. The Benzie Winterfest, hosted annually in the city of Beulah in late February, is the perfect example. Every year, the community dives in with a weekend of games, crafts, competitions, and delicious food.

Participate in the annual chili cookoff or enter one-of-a-kind competitions such as the outhouse race. There are activities here for visitors of all ages, so make sure to bring your kids along. 

Beulah, Beulah - Winter Festivals
Beulah | photo via @jkreski

Lights Over Leelanau | Traverse City


Lights Over Leelanau is hosted by the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail Wineries. This wine-themed festival offers visitors the chance to do a wine crawl around the peninsula, visiting each winery along the way for a tasting.

The event runs daily from late November to late December, making it a perfect adult activity for the holidays. At each winery, you’ll find something totally unique, from one-of-a-kind wines and liquors to live music, food, and other entertainment.

Lights Over Leelanau, Traverse City - Winter Festivals
Lights Over Leelanau | photo via @45northwinery

West Michigan Festivals in Winter

Grand Haven Winterfest | Grand Haven 


There are so many winter in Michigan events going on during the Grand Haven Winterfest, you might not have the time to enjoy them all! This annual celebration takes place in late January and features something for visitors of all ages and interests.

The three-day festival includes events such as a bonfire bash, beer and wine tasting, snow volleyball, a family dog pull, sleepwalker run, euchre tournament, cardboard sled races, and a ski and snowboard race! Of course, it goes without saying that there is plenty of food and drink, too.

Ice Breaker Festival | South Haven


Through much of the winter, the town of South Haven is a quiet spot. But during the annual South Haven Ice Breaker Festival in early February, it becomes a hotspot for winter celebration! This event features everything from community competitions to great food and drink, bonfires, and ice sculptures on display.

Visitors are welcome to participate in the cardboard sled race, enjoy some ice skating or curling, or hit up the shops for unique gifts. Most famous is the one-of-a-kind frozen fish flinging competition, which needs no explanation. 

Ice Breaker Festival, South Haven - Winter Festivals
Ice Breaker Festival | photo via @threeblondesbrewing

World of Winter | Grand Rapids

January – March

The World of Winter festival in Grand Rapids is all about helping the local community make the most of living in a cold region. To that end, the event aims to provide fun and engaging community activities that are accessible even in cold, snowy weather!

World of Winter is free for all visitors and perfect for visitors of any age. Here, you’ll find attractions such as public art installations, a light maze, one-of-a-kind tours, scavenger hunts, snowman-building competitions, and more.

You may even be able to enjoy the best ice sculptures Grand Rapids offers. The events change regularly, so there is always something new and amazing going on!

World Of Winter, Grand Rapids - Winter Festivals
World of Winter | photo via @raindoubt

Looking for a 21+ winter festival in West Michigan? Don’t miss the Grand Rapids Winter Beer Festival!

Winter Festivals in Mid-Michigan

Holiday Crossroads | Genesee 


The annual Holiday Crossroads event in Genesee features a huge outdoor light display with a total of 34 light structures. The Crossroads Village also offers a buffet meal and an art exhibition where local artists display vintage crafts for sale.

Families are welcome to come ride the Christmas train through the village for a full outdoor tour of the light displays. This event has been a tradition in Genesee for more than 30 years and is a beloved staple of the community!

Crossroads Village And Huckleberry Express, Genesee | Polar Express Train Rides In Michigan, Winter Festivals
Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Express

Be sure to check out other train rides as well!

Southern Michigan Winter Beer Festival | Jackson 


Michiganders seem to understand that sometimes, all you need to chase away the winter blues is a good drink. In Jackson, you can find the Southern Michigan Winter Beer Festival, a craft beer event that offers the chance to try 150 craft beers, including locally made brews and imports.

More than 50 breweries take part every year. The event spans between indoor and outdoor spaces, with plenty of food, games, and live entertainment. You’ll even find bonfires outside so you can enjoy a beer and a meal in the snow!

Winter Fun Fest | Washtenaw County


You will find winter festivals all over the state, but none is quite as unique as the one in Washtenaw County. Here, you will get the chance to participate in one-of-a-kind events in Michigan including competitive ice fishing, an ice carving festival, and the popular Hunt for the Yeti event, a snowy scavenger hunt ending with prizes and hot cocoa.

Bring the kids along and teach them to ice fish at the kids’ fishing clinic, passing along a beloved Michigan tradition. 

Ice Fishing, Coldwater - Winter Festivals
Ice Fishing | photo via @mi_outdoorsman

Holiday Walk | Flint


You have probably heard of holiday light walks, but Flint’s annual event leaves them all behind. This drive-thru holiday light extravaganza spans much of the downtown area and is hosted by some of Flint’s leading arts and cultural institutions, including the Flint Institute of the Arts, the Flint Institute of Music, the Flint Repertory Theater, Longway Planetarium, and many more.

As you drive, enjoy music from past holiday pops performances by the Flint Symphony Orchestra.

East Michigan Winter Festivals

Zehnder’s Snowfest | Frankenmuth 


Zehnder’s Snowfest has become one of the most famous ice sculpting festivals not just in Michigan, but in North America! At this Frankenmuth ice fest, you will see some of the biggest ice and snow sculptures you have ever seen — and that’s not all.

This super unique event also features a petting zoo, tons of crafts and games, and even a fireworks show. Sculpting competitions range from single-person entries to team entries that go up to 100 ice blocks in size! 

Related: Don’t miss celebrating the Christmas holidays with a visit to Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland!

Zehnder's Snowfest, Frankenmuth - Winter Festivals
Zehnder’s Snowfest | photo via @yuragi.co

Festival of Trees | Port Huron


The annual Festival of Trees in Port Huron takes place each November and December. This community effort often takes place in new locations around town, both indoors and out. It features upwards of 30 beautifully decorated and themed trees that are open for the public to enjoy.

All the proceeds go towards a local charitable endeavor — this year, for example, all funds will go toward improving the local hospital’s breast cancer imaging technology. Some of the trees also feature raffles with themes such as Pet Christmas or holiday movies.

Port Huron, Port Huron - Winter Festivals
Port Huron | photo via @julie_marie_photography_

Polish WinterFest and Christmas Marketplace | Bay City


Michigan has a substantial Polish population, so it should come as no surprise that you can find Polish Christmas celebrations here! The Polish WinterFest and Christmas Marketplace in Bay City is an amazing celebration of Polish food, music, and art.

Enjoy Polish cuisine from local vendors while listening to live polka music. Make sure to browse the marketplace, where you will find goods from more than 50 local artists, artisans, and other local vendors. 

Related: Enjoy holiday shopping in the Great Lakes Bay region

Bay City Scottish Rite Masonic Center, Bay City - Winter Festivals
Bay City Scottish Rite Masonic Center | photo via @michigansprinkles

Winter Wonderland Craft Bazaar | Saginaw


One of the best ways to find unique and gorgeous gifts for your holiday shopping is at a local craft festival. The Winter Wonderland Craft Bazaar in Saginaw is a perfect example!

This annual event takes place in December and serves as a place for local artists to put their recent pieces on display for purchase. An average of 80 local artists participate each year in every medium from painting to pottery and more.

Southeast Michigan/Metro Detroit Winter Festivals

Annual Ice Sculpture Festival | Tecumseh 


The annual Ice Sculpture Festival in Tecumseh is a family-friendly event for all ages. It takes place around 35 custom ice sculptures from local artists, all of which are open for the public to enjoy!

In the meantime, visitors can enjoy an outdoor scavenger hunt as well as plenty of crafts, games, and other activities. There are also live carving demonstrations and even an ice sculpting competition, in addition to food and beverages from local vendors.

Tecumseh Annual Ice Sculpture Festival, Tecumseh - Winter Festivals
Tecumseh Annual Ice Sculpture Festival | photo via @_loverjenna

Fire and Ice Festival | Rochester 


The Fire and Ice Festival in Rochester is a family event taking place in the downtown area each January. In addition to games, food, and crafts, there are a few special events, such as an ice sculpture carving competition and shopping downtown.

The most famous part of this event is the annual Big Bright Light Show. Sponsored by T-Mobile, the display of holiday lights is one of the most over-the-top (and therefore most widely known) in the state.

Plymouth Ice Festival | Plymouth 


Each year the Plymouth Ice Festival features more than 65 ice sculptures handmade by local sculptors. These line the streets of the town, serving as a backdrop to the rest of the festivities of the day.

There is plenty to eat and drink, including concessions to go at the Penn Theatre in downtown Plymouth. Enjoy shopping for gifts as well as taking part in a special game of Ice Festival Bingo, which could earn you a prize!

Plymouth Ice Festival, Plymouth - Winter Festivals
Plymouth Ice Festival | photo via @meghan.bosch

Mt. Clemens Ice Sculpting Festival | Mt. Clemens 


The town of Mt. Clemens makes the most of the last stretch of late winter with its annual ice sculpting festival. Taking place in mid-February, the festival takes place in partnership with the Mt. Clemens Discovery Center and local businesses.

Not only are there many things to do, but it is also educational! Visitors of all ages are welcome to make scientific discoveries, observe live ice sculpting, and enjoy plenty of snacks from local vendors. 

Cold Rush | Warren


The annual Cold Rush festival, taking place in late January, is an outdoor celebration of all things cold and wintery. For one day in the center of the city, visitors can enjoy activities such as ice skating (including glow skating when the sun goes down), ice carving, and live music.

Local food trucks are on site to provide all the best in local treats. If you’re feeling cold, stop by one of the bonfires to enjoy a s’more and a cup of hot cocoa.

Cold Rush, Warren - Winter Festivals
Cold Rush | photo via @norbert.obet

Visiting Winter Festivals in Michigan

No matter where you are in Michigan, there is plenty of winter fun at hand. Don’t let the winter blues get you down this year — instead, look around for the nearest festival and join your community in celebrating the ice and snow!

Looking for more Michigan winter things to do? Check out the best Michigan cross country skiing trails or grab your skates and head to one of these ice skating rinks in Michigan. Or to extend your snowy fun, explore the best Michigan winter getaways!