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Coming soon: 30th Ely Winter Festival

SNOW SCULPTURES will return to Whiteside Park for the 30th Winter Festival. Submitted photo.

The blocks of snow already in place around town are a dead giveaway.

The Ely Winter Festival is right around the corner.

Now in its 30th year, the community’s grand winter celebration is set for Feb. 2-12 with an array of activities and events.

Those include the snow sculpting symposium, featuring both professional and amateur carvers, as well as the Ely ArtWalk, skating and kick sledding at Whiteside Park, snowshoe hikes with the Listening Point Foundation, candlelight skiing at Hidden Valley as well as two new events: the first End of the Road Film Festival and music performances by Courtney Yasmineh at Northern Grounds Coffee House.

Other than a 2021 festival that was curtailed in part by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ely Winter Festival has become a staple on the community’s calendar - and one popular with both area residents and visitors.

The snow sculptures usually serve as a focal point and drawing card, as Whiteside Park fills with the snow sculptors and their works of art.

This year’s event once again brings sculpting teams from outside the region including groups from elsewhere in Minnesota and the upper Midwest.

Included this year are 11 teams and 25 snow sculptors, including one from Germany.

A schedule and more information can be found online at

In conjunction with the Ely Winter Festival is this year’s Ely ArtWalk, which brings more than 400 pieces of art - by artists with direct ties to the Ely areas - to the shops and windows of downtown businesses. The ArtWalk runs through Feb. 28.

New to the Ely Winter Festival calendar are performances both Feb. 3 and Feb. 4, at Northern Grounds, by singer/songwriter Courtney Yasmihen.

Ely’s Historic State Theater, meanwhile, is home to the first End of the Road Film Festival, which runs from Feb. 9-12.

The festival calendar includes numerous other events, with weekend days in particular filled with various activities.

Admission to many EWF events requires a winter festival pin, which are available for $6 at Northern Grounds, Zup’s, Grand Ely Lodge, Potluck Kitchenware and Piragis Northwoods Company. One dollar from the sale of each pin will go to the Ely Public Schools for its 2024 production of “Frozen.”

The EWF is still in need of volunteers and those interested may send an email to

The event requires the assistance of sponsors, and the EWF committee has extended thanks to the city of Ely, Zup’s Food Market, Grand Ely Lodge, Ely Family Dental, Twin Metals Minnesota, End of the Road Film Festival, Raven Words Press, Veterans on the Lake Resort, Viking Bags, Rock Country Masonry and others who have stepped up to support the event.

The festival is also made  possible by the voters of Minnesota through grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board, and the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

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