Here in Bend, Oregon, we don’t just celebrate winter. We throw a massive party for it, complete with food, live music, snow sculptures, ice carving, kids’ games, RailJam, and a lot more.
I’m talking about Bend WinterFest, and the fact that we’re rapidly approaching the next installment of this unique annual event. WinterFest kicks off on Friday, February 17 and lasts through Sunday, February 19. You can find a complete schedule of events online, but here’s what looks hot to me:
Calling All Snow Warriors
New this year, Snow Warriors is an outrageous, fun, and challenging event that’s not for the faint of heart. Participants start out sprinting through a course with crazy obstacles and terrain that includes mud, snow, and ice. The ultimate finish includes a climb up and slide down the WinterFest RailJam. The $40 pre-registration fee includes a WinterFest pass, a custom Blackstrap beanie, free beer ticket at the finish line for 21+ participants, and of course, a slide down the RailJam. You can register online or learn more about this super fun event here.
The music at WinterFest is always terrific, but I hope no one minds me saying this looks like the best lineup they’ve ever had. On Friday night, the main stage will feature Larry and His Flask at 7 p.m. followed by MarchFourth Marching Band at 8:30 p.m. Later that night at the Century Center afterparty, will take the stage at 11 p.m. for a show restricted to ages 21+. Saturday’s lineup is just as impressive, with MOsley WOtta kicking things off at the main stage at 7 p.m., followed by The Coup at 8:30 p.m. The Century Center afterparty that night will feature Buck 65 at 11 p.m. All shows are included with the price of your WinterFest pass, which can be purchased for $5 at OnPoint Community Credit Union in advance or $8 at the gate. Get the scoop on where to get your pass right here.
Fun for the Young’uns
Are the kids disappointed because you can’t make it up to the mountain? WinterFest will bring the mountain to you!
The Kids Snow Games area is a large “snow-box” where kids can make snowmen, snow angels, and frolic to their heart’s desire. The area is packed with oodles of snow toys, and REI will make a life-sized igloo and offer interactive demonstrations throughout the weekend. If you’re in more of a “look but don’t touch” mode, don’t forget to check out the snow sculptures at every WinterFest entrance. You can also watch the ice carving shows on Friday evening and Saturday morning, or check out the sculptures anytime after that.
Did Someone Say Wine?
I confess, this is the WinterFest feature I’m most excited about. From 5-9 p.m. on Friday, the Shops in the Old Mill will be transformed into a mecca for fine wines. For just $15 with your WinterFest pass (or $20 without) you’ll get a commemorative wine glass and ten tasting tickets. Stroll between the shops and sample fabulous wines. The event is sponsored by Trinchero Family Estates (the guys responsible for Ménage à Trois and lots of other great wines) so know the selections will be good. Bottoms up!