Winter in Maine is more than sipping hot chocolate and hitting the slopes at our state’s ski resorts. We’re highlighting unique winter events and festivals to check out this season for something a bit different: from celebrating local history at the Snowshoe Festival in Norway and the Annual Ice Harvest in South Bristol, to enjoying ice sculptures at the Belfast Ice Festival and Carnaval in Portland. For a special adventure, head north to Fort Kent to watch racing sled dogs, or watch snowmobiles zoom up ski trails at the King of the Mountain event at Saddleback mountain.
Unique Maine Winter Events & Festivals
Sugarloaf Sam Adams Air & Apres, Carrabassett Valley
January 21, 2023
Sugarloaf ski resort hosts a free festival that includes an ice bar on “the Beach,” the Base Village’s courtyard with a fire pit overlooking the mountain, and live music at the Widowmaker bar, with a Big Air show under the lights starting at 5:30 pm featuring X-Games, Olympic and other professional athletes. The event culminates with fireworks and a pyrotechnic show. Learn more on the event website.
Wooden Ski Day, Bethel
January 22, 2023
The Carter XC Ski Center in Bethel celebrates the history of Nordic skiing with a fun event where guests with wooden skis get a free trail pass. Guests are encouraged to don their vintage and retro Nordic ski gear and clothing, culminating in a Ski Parade and costume prizes. The event includes live music, plus food and drinks from Wild River Kitchen and Norway Brewing Company, and a bit of local history from Glenn Parkinson of the Maine Ski & Snowboard Museum. Learn more on the event website.
US National Toboggan Championships, Camden Snow Bowl, Camden
February 3-5, 2023
The Camden Snow Bowl, a small but mighty ski resort with ocean views, is home to the annual United States Toboggan Championships. Spectators enjoy dressing up in costumes for the exciting event, where contestants race 40 mph down an icy chute and out across frozen Hosmer Pond. On the Friday before the official races begin, the toboggan chute is open to the public for “fun runs.” Learn more on the event website.
Maine Pond Hockey Classic, Sidney
February 3-5, 2023
When the ice freezes across the state, Mainers grab their skates and play some pond hockey. The annual Maine Pond Hockey Classic is hosted by the Snow Pond Center for the Arts, a 175-acre facility along Messalonskee Lake, also known as Snow Pond. Proceeds from the Maine Pond Hockey Classic go to support the Boys & Girls Club and YMCA of Greater Waterville at the Alfond Youth & Community Center. Learn more about team registration and spectator information on the event website.
Ice Cross Downhill, Lost Valley, Auburn
February 9-11, 2023
The extreme winter sport of ice cross brings athletes in full hockey-style padding racing on a walled downhill track made of sheer ice with vertical drops, tight turns, and even obstacles. If you have to see it to believe it, visit Lost Valley in Auburn for a special event hosted by the US Ice Cross Association. Check out the video below of an ice cross downhill course that was built inside Boston’s Fenway Park in 2019 for a taste of the action. Learn more on the event website.
Snowshoe Festival, Norway
February 18, 2023
Part of the week-long Norway Winter Carnival during February vacation week, the Snowshoe Festival celebrates Norway’s history of snowshoe-making. Born in Norway in 1853, Mainer Millie Dunham was a renowned fiddler who supplied Robert Peary’s Arctic expeditions with snowshoes. The event website describes Norway as the self-proclaimed “Snowshoe Town of America” that “was home to four major snowshoe industries between 1850 and 1980: Snowcraft, Tubbs, H.H Hosmer, and Dunham.” The festival includes snowshoe races and snowshoe games like tug-of-war, corn hole, and more.
Annual Ice Harvest, South Bristol
February 19, 2023
Each winter, the Thompson Ice House Harvesting Museum celebrates the tradition of harvesting ice from frozen Thompson Pond using the same methods that were used in the 1800s. Local volunteers and the public help cut the ice into blocks and float them down a channel of open water onto the old-fashioned conveyor, where it will be stacked inside the ice house museum and kept frozen until the summer using traditional methods. The following July, the Ice House throws an ice cream social using the ice that was harvested that winter. Learn more on the event website.
Ice Festival & Maine Ice Carving Championship, Belfast
February 24-26, 2023
Downtown Belfast is decorated with beautiful and unique ice sculptures for this annual winter festival, which includes the Maine Ice Carving Championship on Saturday, February 25. Other activities include horse-drawn carriage rides and a “Taste of Belfast” celebration. Learn more on the event website.
Can-Am Crown International Sled Dog Races, Fort Kent
March 4, 2023
Considered the “most challenging sled dog race in the eastern United States,” the three Cam-Am Crown races (250 miles, 100 miles, and 30 miles) kick off on Main Street in downtown Fort Kent and take sled dog teams racing through the Allagash Wilderness in Maine’s northernmost reaches. Head to the designated spectator points in the towns of Portage Lake and Allagash, and watch the finish from Lonesome Pine ski lodge back in Fort Kent. Be sure to check out the antique snowmobile parade. Learn more on the event website.
Carnaval ME Winter Festival, Portland
March 8-12, 2023
This winter festival in Portland features an illuminated 400-person igloo that will host a ticketed Fire & Ice Gala and a Bites & Brews showcase with pairings from local breweries, plus ice sculpture demonstrations, frozen selfie stations, family-friendly games and activities, and live music on the Norway Savings Bank Snow Stage. Learn more on the event website.
King of the Mountain Snowmobile Hill Climb, Saddleback Ski Resort
April 21-22, 2023
Saddleback ski resort hosts the King of the Mountain Snowmobile Hill Climb, a truly unique snowmobile race up the ski trails billed as “the loudest party in the East” because of all the revving engines. Over 600 participants turned out in 2022 to compete in categories like “Snow Bikes, “Vintage: 1979 & Older,” and even a racetrack for kids on mini-snowmobiles. Learn more on the event website.