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An Ice Festival that’s Simply “Superior” to the Rest

Superior, Wisconsin, is a beautiful destination tucked away on the western edge of the largest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Superior. It’s one of the farthest inland ports from the Atlantic Ocean, and offers travelers an abundance of local festivals, outdoors activities, family friendly attractions, and more.  


The Lake Superior Ice Festival is a family oriented winter spectacular that attracts patrons from all over the Midwest. Event coordinators expect over 30,000 patrons during the three-day festival. The event takes place on Barker’s Island, located at the east end of the city and directly on the shores of Lake Superior. Attendees will encounter a variety of things to do that range from a pond hockey tournament to a marketplace filled with skilled artisans from the community. Kids will flock to the Kid’s Zone, which features photo opportunities with Ice Princesses and activities for all ages. Everyone will love the local food trucks serving up a variety of food including tacos, gyros, and more. We got the chance to interview Nikky Farmakes, Director of Marketing and Social Media for Superior-Douglas County Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau, to talk about this great winter celebration.


RAL: How long has the event been running?

NF: This will be the third year of the event, and we’ll be celebrating January 27-29.


RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?

NF: This event has drawn close to 30,000 people to Barker’s Island in the past and we expect even more this year.


RAL: What is the typical demographic makeup of the event? Children? Families? Couples?

NF: This event is for everyone including families, children, and couples. There will be aspects of the event that cater to all!


RAL: What makes this event unique?

NF: The Lake Superior Ice Festival is a community-driven event that celebrates the coolest aspects of our region.  We have community partners from all across Douglas County coming together to encourage visitors to travel to our beautiful area.


RAL: Take me through a day at the event.

NF: The Lake Superior Ice Festival will be held on Barker's Island, just off Highway 2 in Superior. The festival will have many exciting events including:

  • the Great Lakes Pond Hockey Classic

  • ice sculptures

  • carving demonstrations

  • Orb 365 Community Art Installation

  • Barker’s Island Inn Ice Bar

  • Enbridge Half-Pipe Snow Slide

  • ice skating

  • local arts & craft fair

  • Frozen Fore ice golfing

  • bonfires & s’mores

  • food & beverage vendors

  • kid’s zone featuring Ice Princesses


The Lake Superior Ice Racing Association and the Midwest Ice Racing Association will both be holding race events during the festival weekend. Trolleys will be available to transport festival-goers to downtown Superior for even more food and fun once the festival grounds close for the day. To top off the weekend, there will be a musical fireworks display on Saturday night.


RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging?

NF: We have a variety of hotels, motels, lodges, and B&B’s near the festival grounds. There will also be a local art and craft fair that showcases work from local artists and business owners, as well as local food vendors. Volunteers from our local community staff many of the events running throughout the festival. All of the local business owners are encouraged to offer specials throughout the Ice Festival weekend.


RAL: Are there any lodging specials that are set up specifically for the event?

NF: Yes, lodging specials and other event promotions specials can be found on our website.


RAL: Is there maybe one place in particular that guests have been flocking to since the event started?

NF: The Kid’s Zone, Great Lakes Pond Hockey Classic, and the Enbridge Half-Pipe Snow Slide are all expected to be the “hot spots” of the festival.


RAL: Does the event support a special cause in the community?

NF: The Orb 365 project is a local art installation that showcases winter and water while reminding us that water is a valuable resource all year. All orbs are donated by local youth from the Superior School District and local organizations like the Superior-Douglas County YMCA.


The Superior Chamber Foundation Youth Leadership Program’s Frozen Fore Ice Golf donations will also go toward supporting youth leadership in Superior. Also, all proceeds raised during the Great Lakes Pond Hockey tournament go toward the local Superior Amateur Hockey Association (SAHA).


RAL: Why should people come to your event?

NF: When winter comes to the Northland, it tends to stick around for a while, and the Lake Superior Ice Festival is a celebration of all things winter! You’ll never forget your first run down the Enbridge Half-Pipe Snow Slide, watching ice become art with a chainsaw, or enjoying s'mores with fireworks in the background.

For more information about the Superior Ice Festival, please visit their website.