Located in the northwestern part of Minnesota, Bemidji ranks highly among the top places for a winter destination. Thanks to its ideal location surrounded by rugged forests and hundreds of lakes, the area transforms into a literal winter wonderland. The city takes pride in its active winter lifestyle and has earned titles such as being the “Snowmobile Capital of the North” and “Curling Capital of USA.” Whether you’re looking for a way to celebrate the holidays in the snow or take in a winter festival, you’ve got options in Bemidji, MN. Here are the top things to do this winter in Bemidji, Minnesota.

570x334_snow_main_NightLightNight We Light

Kick off the holiday season the day after Thanksgiving at Night We Light Festival. The evening festivities begin at 6:00 p.m. with a parade looping through downtown Bemidji with floats trimmed with lavish decorations and strings of lights. After the parade, gather at the iconic Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox statues for the count-down to flipping the switch illuminating Paul Bunyan Park along with most of its downtown area. After the lighting ceremony wander over to the History Museum to be warmed by a bonfire and hot cocoa.

570x334_snow_buenavista_sleighBuena Vista Ski Area

Get active this winter by heading to the Buena Vista Ski Area. The name translates as “beautiful view” and visitors that come to the “hill” will easily see why the area has that name. Buena Vista has a hilly terrain and clusters of lakes that glisten with ice during the winter. The chairlifts climb to the top of the Continental Divide here, for a bird’s-eye view of snow-covered forest and nine frozen lakes. But you won’t just be coming here for the view—there’s skiing, snowboarding and tubing, too. There are two terrain parks for snowboarding and downhill ski past the chalet. Families with smaller children can opt for tubing and often a horse-drawn sleigh ride. Warm up and fuel up in the chalet cafe and in front of a crackling fireplace. All ski equipment can be rented on the premises.

570x334_Snow_main_CurlingCurling

Curling is among the top sports highlighting the Winter Olympics. Bemidji is the “Curling Capital of USA” and is home to the famous Bemidji Curling Club. For those unfamiliar with curling, it’s a popular shuffleboard-style game played on sheets of ice where team members slide stones toward its target area, using brooms to control the stones trajectory. Whether you’re an avid player or curious to learn about the sport, swing by the club to watch teams practice or catch a game. The club has a first-floor viewing area accessible to the public, as well as its upper level deck with a bar. Before making a visit, check the club’s website for any upcoming games or tournaments.

walleyeWinterfest 2017

Dubbed as the “coolest event of the year,” Winterfest is a favorite annual tradition among locals and visitors to Bemidji each winter. If you’ve been looking for a bona fide winter wonderland, Bemidji is it, especially during Winterfest. The festival, held the first weekend in February will have a series of scheduled events including snow tubing, curling bonspiels and cornhole tournaments. Don’t forget to check out some of its odd and wonderful activities like the BRRRmidji Plunge, where dozens of brave participants will jump into the icy waters of Lake Bemidji to raise funds for Project Lifesaver. Other activities that aren’t your run-of-the-mill winter events include frozen turkey bowling, the Hardwater Classic Ice Fishing Tournament and pond hockey. Live music and food vendors will accompany the crowd during the games.

Find out more of the great things you can do in Bemidji, Minnesota, during the winter here.