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Winter Festival in Ely

The Ely Winter Festival is a 10-day-long celebration of everything winter! The festival starts on February 2nd and runs until February 12th. There is sure to be fun for the whole family! Activities include the amazing snow carvings in the park, along with the Ely ArtWalk and many other events. The headquarters of the event will be at Northern Grounds (Central Ave. and Sheridan St). This is a great place to start where you can purchase festival pins and T-shirts, as well as find the event schedule and information needed to get the most out of your visit!

Back in 1984 the Ely Ski Club started a cross-country ski race, running from Tower to Ely, called the Wilderness Trek. Local businesses and craftspeople set up booths to offer services to the folks that came out to spectate the event. It also drew in live music and food vendors. In the coming years it continued to expand, and in 1995 they hosted their first Snow Sculpting Symposium, now one of the main attractions.

The International Snow Sculpting Symposium is the premier event during the Ely Winter Festival. Professional artists from around the country and the globe come and carve beautiful works of art out of 8-12 foot blocks of snow! Spectators are welcome to come watch the artist’s work while they are creating their masterpieces. The exhibition takes place in Whiteside Park located at 58 S. 7th Ave. E. and is not a contest. It is simply a celebration of artistic freedom and the great northern winter in hopes of sparking the imagination and for the public’s viewing pleasure. Each sculpture is created by a team of artists, led by a team leader. There is also an amateur snow sculpture contest. These sculptures will be judged on February 4th at 2:00 pm with prizes going to first and second place in 3 different categories.

The month-long Ely Art Walk will also kick off with the beginning of the festival. The Ely Artwalk runs from February 1st until the 28th and was first included into the festivities back in 1998.

During the month of February, the town of Ely is transformed into an art gallery. A window-shopping exhibition of more than 400 pieces of art by artists with direct ties to the Ely area will be featured in the shops and windows of downtown businesses. No matter where you walk or what you pass by, it’s a special kind of feeling to be embraced by all the creativity on display. It won’t just be paintings, but many forms of artistic expression and crafts including pottery, fiber arts and more.

Originally a timber town, then a mining town, Ely is now a well-known tourist destination because of its unspoiled forests and lakes. Of course, summer seems an obvious time to take advantage of the area’s natural bounty, but winter holds its own beauty and attraction.

There will be plenty of live music, food vendors, games and events for all ages! Local businesses can also provide you with cross-country ski equipment, dog sledding trips, snowmobile rentals, ice skating equipment, and more. Whatever you need to enjoy your time in the great outdoors up north- Ely has it. To check out the calendar of events you can visit the Ely Winter Festival website at www.elywinterfestival.com.

Katee Rose
Katee Rose
Katee Rose grew up on the Great Lakes in upstate New York. She left home on a bicycle and embarked on a cross country trip to California following her graduation from college. This trip was the beginning of many more that eventually landed her in countries across Europe, Canada, Mexico and Central America. Learning the cultures, cuisines, history and traditions from the communities she’s spent time in around the world. Katee is passionate about community and social justice movements. As well as engaging with many forms of art and music. For the past 5 years she has called the North Shore home and has been enjoying homesteading a small slice of land in the Northwoods. She is involved in many community efforts around local food, building capacity for a more sustainable future and supporting the elders in the area.
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