Superior ramps up for icy fun

The 2023 Lake Superior Ice Festival takes place Jan. 27-28.

girl lays in sled
Odessa Stevenson, 6, of Superior, smiles after sliding down a sleding hill at the Lake Superior Ice Festival at Barkers Island Inn and Conference Center on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022 in Superior.
Dan Williamson / File / Duluth News Tribune
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SUPERIOR — A mix of indoor and outdoor activities will offer visitors a chance to celebrate all things winter during the 2023 Lake Superior Ice Festival, Jan. 27-28.

two people stand by fire pit
Brooke Hendry, left, a student rotarian, and James Farkas, right, of the Rotary Club of Superior, stand by a fire pit at the 2022 Lake Superior Ice Festival at Barkers Island Inn and Conference Center on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022 in Superior.
Dan Williamson / File / Duluth News Tribune

“What I look forward to the most about this event is seeing the sheer number of people, both from in our community and others from outside of the community, coming and enjoying themselves outdoors with a wide variety of things,” said Superior director of parks, recreation and forestry Linda Cadotte.

“It’s just been so thrilling to see this grow over the last seven years, of really just becoming that signature community event where there’s businesses and nonprofits and organizations that are truly just rallying together to bring different elements," she added.

Visitor feedback has helped shape this year’s celebration, which will include a hay bale shuttle and an accessible STRIDE bus at the Richard I. Bong Veteran’s Historical Center to bring people to and from the festival.

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Back by popular demand will be activities such as Kubb, disc golf, figure skating, a sledding hill, fireworks and ice carving. Last year’s ice carousel was so popular that Barkers Island Inn plans to build two. The Midwest Ice Racing Association is also expanding its reach with races both Friday night and Saturday.


A new skating pathway loop is being planned that will connect different events between Pickle Pond and Barker’s Island. In addition to adult snowshoe demonstrations from the University of Wisconsin-Superior, the University of Minnesota Duluth will demonstrate kite skiing. There will even be a blacksmith forge set up near the ice carvers to offer demonstrations.

“Continued growth and expanded partnerships is really what the goal has been … Some things drop off and others get picked up and it’s just kind of this ever evolving continually growing event so yeah, super excited to see all of it come together,” Cadotte said.

011323.N.ST.Ice map.jpg
A map of the 2023 Lake Superior Ice Festival events. The celebration takes place Jan. 27-28.
Contributed / Superior Parks, Recreation and Forestry

Indoor activities taking place Jan. 28 include a meet and greet with princesses at Fairlawn Mansion, a craft show at Barkers Island Inn, an escape room preview at the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center and children’s activities in the Lake Superior Estuarium.

“I think we’ve expanded our indoor events as well, so a lot more opportunity between the Fairlawn, the Bong, the Estuarium and the inn, to have an indoor activity. So if folks get cold they can go inside and take place in those parts of the festival as well,” Cadotte said.

The fun will extend into the rest of the city as well, with 24 different businesses or organizations displaying ice sculptures. Cadotte said local businesses plan to offer specials and deals during the event, as well. People can keep track of the fun online through the Fairlawn cam , which provides a live view of Barker’s Island from the turret of Fairlawn Mansion, courtesy of Duluth Harborcam.

man carves ice display
Scott Stettin of Krystal Kleer Ice Sculptures of Appleton, Wis., looks at his sculpture during an ice carving demonstration at the Lake Superior Ice Festival at Barkers Island Inn and Conference Center on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022 in Superior.
Dan Williamson / File / Duluth News Tribune

The city is a big supporter of the festival, contributing both time and finances to make it a success.

“But at the end of the day this would not be possible without everyone, from the people who participate in it to those who helped run their piece of the event and I think that’s the original vision that was set out. I feel like we’ve made it and it continues to grow. People continue to reach out and say ‘Hey, what about this idea,’ ‘I want to help make this happen,’ and it’s just so thrilling for us,” Cadotte said.


Visit the Lake Superior Ice Festival website or Facebook page for a list of events and times.

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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