(BPT) - Midwinter blues get you down every year? Join us for the Ely Winter Festival, Feb. 6-16, 2020. You'll never have more fun outside in the snow, guaranteed. It's our largest winter event and getting bigger every year, so make your reservations early!

It all started back in 1984, when the Ely Ski Club put on a cross-country ski race, dubbed the Wilderness Trek, from Tower to Ely. Some local businesses got into the act and had booths at the finish line, complete with food and live music. A great time in a small town in the Northwoods, right? So great that volunteers started getting involved, turning it into a three-day weekend to promote the outdoors in Ely.

It sort of (pun intended) snowballed from there. Now, it's a 10-day celebration of art, Scandinavian culture, Ely and this awesome Northwoods area we're lucky enough to call home. Craft fairs, snow sculptures in the park, concerts, sled dog rides, food, drink, you name it, we've got it. And most of it is free!

Some of the other events include:

Ely ArtWalk, Downtown Ely, Feb. 6-16

Store windows throughout downtown Ely create a strolling gallery by displaying the work of incredible artists and craftspeople. Do a little window shopping, appreciate the artistic talent that lives here, and buy some of their work to take a little bit of Ely home with you!

The Great Nordic Beard Fest, the Boathouse Brewpub, Feb. 7, 6 to 9 p.m.

$30 for competitors
$5 admission for spectators

Do not, we repeat, do not shave your Novembeards! This event is a fun facial hair smackdown that draws huge crowds. Divisions include Full Beard Natural Long, Natural Short, Freestyle Beard, Modified Beard, Ladies' Choice, Best Mustache and more, winners determined by crowd noise. Past events have seen nearly 60 participants.

Snowshoe to Hegman Pictographs, Feb. 15, 1 to 3 p.m.

If you've never seen an ancient pictograph, be prepared to get the chills. It's so cool! You'll trek roughly three miles into the BWCAW to Hegman Lake. Outward Bound staff provide an orientation to the route and help arrange groups of nine people or fewer for the trek. You can either snowshoe or hike, and snowshoes and poles are provided. The trek there and back will take about two hours, so arrive promptly at 1 p.m. Dress in layers, and bring a gaiter or face mask if it's windy. Also, a small backpack, water bottle (Hint: Fill it with warm water so it doesn't freeze quickly!), sunglasses and your camera. No need to reserve a spot, just show up! And it's free!! Here's the entry point, off the Echo Trail.

We're adding events all the time, so please check back here for the latest! We can't wait to see you in February!