While there are those who will hibernate during the winter months, there’s just as many who are dying to get out and partake in some fun in the snow. For those who love winter adventures, there are sports and festivals and adventures you can only have during the colder months.
Here are 7 weird and wonderful winter activities you may not have tried yet.
Pronounced “ski-yor-ing”, this is basically skiing with animals… Like doing a dog sled on skis, for instance.
In the 1850s, Scandinavians developed the sport as a mode of transportation when they returned from the Gold Rush in Alaska. Now, of course, it’s more about racing and competition. Basically, you strap yourself to a horse, or a dog, or a pair of dogs, put on a pair of skis and take off. What could possibly go wrong, right?
Obviously, you’ll find races up in the Northlands of Wisconsin and Minnesota, and you can find plenty of info on the sport on this site. But check out the programs at Triple Creek Ranch, in Darby, MT for some beginners instruction before building up your skills to head into one of the 5k or 20k races (for added fun some courses add ramps and obstacles!) in snowy states.
You’ve probably done your share of yukigassen without even knowing about it!
Yukigassen is Japanese snowball fighting. But of course, since it’s Japan, it’s not just flinging balls of ice crystals at each other; there are teams of seven, several walls to hide behind, a flag to capture, and an international competition. For those interested, the Showa Shinzan International Yukigassen World Championship in Hokkaido attracts more than 170 teams and some 25,000 fans to see whose squad will reign supreme.
There’s no money for the championship, but there are bragging rights involved. Get your throwing arm ready and wrap up in your ski suit for this one.
3. Shovel Racing
So, back in the 1970s, ski lift operators tried to figure out ways to get down the hill from the ski lift quicker. Naturally, they grabbed the closest smooth surface they could find, shovels, and decided to race them down the slopes. Who wouldn’t want to do that, right?
Now, each year, there are competitions for the world shovel racing championship at Angel Fire Resort in Angel Fire, New Mexico. Named by Men’s Health as one of the World Championships You Can Actually Win, it may sound like fun — but be forewarned, it takes a heap of guts to put your butt on a shovel and take off down a snow covered slope. Riders can accelerate up to 68 mph!
4. Frozen Dead Guy Days
Down in Nederland, CO, it was discovered that a Norwegian man and his mother were keeping a relative — Grandpa Bredo Morstoel — cryogenically frozen in their home. In 2002, to mark this unusual revelation, the city decided to celebrate Bredo’s icy preservation.
Now, every year, in order to celebrate Grandpa Bredo, the town has a 3-day festival call “Frozen Dead Guy Days,” where Grandpa Bredo, packed in 1,600 pounds of dry ice watches over coffin races, a parade of hearses, a frozen T-shirt contest (BRRRRR!) and snow “beach” volleyball.
Last year, TravelAwaits named Frozen Dead Guy Days one of The World’s Best Winter Festivals.
5. Wok Racing
If shovel racing isn’t dangerous enough for you, there’s always wok racing to look into.
As the name implies, you put your butt in a wok, and then you sled down a mountain. There are competitions for one-man wok racing, and four-man wok racing competitions. The four-man woks are basically two woks connected together.
Started by a German television show host in 2003, this activity now has world championships in Germany and has developed into a real sport. Now racers wear protective gear, especially since they can go as fast as 75 miles per hour, including ladles on the bottoms of the woks to provide friction which slows the woks down.
Again: what could possibly go wrong?
6. Whitefish Winter Carnival
Up in Whitefish, MT, there’s this legend that the norse god Ullr, god of snow, decided to make his home on Big Mountain in the Northwest. But he married a beautiful Queen who was also attractive to a rogue band of Yetis. The Yetis tried to kidnap the Queen and make her their own, but Ullr intervened, beating the Yetis and saving the Queen of Snow, much to the delight of the natives.
I swear, I’m not making this up.
Anyway, the natives decided that they needed to celebrate their Winter King, and created the Whitefish Winter Carnival where they revel all things snowy and wintery and cold by holding ski parades, making ice sculptures, and skijoring… despite rogue bands of yetis that may or may not run through the town pranking festival attendees.
And who doesn’t want to be chased by a Yeti through Montana? Seriously.
7. Polar Fest
If you’re one of those people who LOVE snow, then the Detroit Lake, MN Polar Fest is for you. Here they live for cold winter months, and all things chilly.
There’s a week of festivities — from frozen golf, to frozen turkey bowling, to frozen fireworks and an ice harvest. Started by tavern owner Erika Johnson in 1996, the festival started off as just a Polar Plunge, where people jump into a hole in the lake on a balmy day in February to raise money for charity. Since then, the festival has grown and now takes up the whole week, ending in the fireworks and polar plunge on Presidents’ Day Weekend.
If you love cold, you’ll love jumping into a Minnesota lake in February, we guarantee. Go ahead, jump on in… we’re sure everything will be fine.