Get ready for some frosty fun in St. Joseph! The 14th Annual Magical Ice Festival looks to be bigger and better than ever and packed with family fun, ice competitions and even some frozen fish. The event, which runs from February 2nd though February 4th, is a great way to explore this charming lakeside town and celebrate the winter season.
Whether you’re a first timer or a frequent ice fest attendee, check out this guide for everything you need to know!
14th Magical Ice Fest Frozen Fun Guide
All weekend long, there’s a scavenger hunt, making for a frozen adventure! Participants will be on the lookout for items that have been frozen into blocks placed around town (pick up a map at the St. Joseph Today Welcome Center, located at 301 State Street). This “SnowBiz” Hunt is fun for all ages and has its rewards too - turn in the form at the end and be entered to win a St. Joseph Gift Certificate.
Friday - Frozen Fun Begins!
Ice carvers begin revving their chainsaws for the Individual Competitions on Friday at 5:30pm. Along Pleasant Street blocks of ice will be transformed into all sorts of awesome. The carvers will finish their icy creations at 7:30pm, when the attention turns to warming up…
At 7:30pm, guests are in for a treat with a downtown Fire & Ice Tower. To make this happen, a large tower of ice is packed with firewood. We light it, and it becomes a unique site for all - a breathtaking bonfire (a little bit of ice and fire magic).
INSIDER TIP: Warm up and quench your thirst downtown – there’s free hot cocoa served inside the Welcome Center (301 State Street), thanks to the Inn at Harbor Shores! You can also snag a free sample of mulled cranberry wine from Lazy Ballerina Winery, and a tasting from Dablon Winery at PurelyMichigan, both Friday and Saturday.
The fun doesn’t stop when the fire does!
It heats up below the bluff at the Fire & Ice Party, held at Shadowland Ballroom. This event begins at 8:00pm and goes until midnight, and features an icey martini luge and a dance performance with literal flames! Guests 18 and older are welcome. A $10 ticket covers entry, pizza from Silver Beach Pizza, Zick's Sticks, and entertainment. Bring cash for drinks!
INSIDER TIP: this event sells out, get your ticket early!
In the Arts District, the Livery Microbrewery is hosting an awesome live show! Dan Deitrich (who classifies his sounds as “straight up indie rock with hints of southern vulnerability”), performs with special guests Joshua Powell & The Great Train Robbery and Amy VanDyke, two Indiana-based artists. Doors at 8:30pm with a $10 cover charge.
Saturday - All About the Competitions and Downtown Fun!
Ice teams assemble! The Team Competition for ice carvers begins at 8:00am and State Street will come alive with icy fun. This carving and creating will go on until 4:00pm and involves an epic amount of ice for each sculpture. It’s awesome to watch the progress of the teams throughout the day.
The fun continues downtown throughout the day!
For active ice-seekers, start your day off with the 6th Annual Ice Fest 5k Chocolate Walk/Run, beginning at 9:00am! This timed run is the perfect way to explore downtown St. Joseph (and warm up a little, too!). After your run, challenge your friends and family to the Frozen Fish Toss! For just $1, toss three frozen fish at a cornhole board. The Frozen Fish Toss is open from 10:00am-4:00pm.
INSIDER TIP: The Livery Microbrewery is passing out $12 coupons for their spent-grain pizzas during the fish toss! Be sure to grab one of these (and a sample of brew from 2-4 inside the Welcome Center).
If you’re looking for toastier fun, there’s lots for families to do indoors. Bring your flip-flops for a Hula-Hoopla below the bluff at the Silver Beach Carousel! It's Waikiki Weekend at the Silver Beach Center. The spin of the carousel evokes balmy breezes for riders, and there’s even a free hula show at both 2:00 and 3:00pm.
Catch a magic show (putting the “Magical” in Ice Fest!) throughout downtown St. Joseph on Saturday, too. John Dudley will be at the St. Joseph Library at noon, outside St. Joseph Today at 1:30pm, and at Shadowland Ballroom at 4:00pm! All shows are free.
Above the bluff, it’s a great time to explore our shops and restaurants. From unique Michigan-made goods to kitchen essentials to boutique clothing to handcrafted treats, there’s something for everyone in downtown St. Joe!
INSIDER TIP: There’s a seasonal liquidation sale at Moxie’s Boutique! Catch a sale that includes seasonal apparel at 60-80% off, and more! You can also find up to 50% off at Wanderlust Outfitters, and 25-60% off at Third Coast Surf Shop.
To round out the day, an event not to be missed is Ice Wars. This exciting competition is located at State and Pleasant Streets and kicks off at 4:30pm. Ice Wars features pro carvers dueling it out in 15 minute bouts of ice-carving chaos, judged by the crowd. Chainsaws and a crowd vote – what could be better?!
INSIDER TIP: Arrive on the scene early as this event gets packed and those up front will have the best views.
Finish up with dinner out! Find our full list of restaurants here.
Sunday - Take it All In before the Big Game
If cold conditions remain through the weekend, Sunday offers a great opportunity to enjoy downtown St. Joseph and all the sculptures created during the festival. Many stores and restaurants will be open offering the perfect place to warm up while enjoying the icy art. (Great way to get out before Super Bowl activities start later in the day.)
INSIDER TIP: There’s still time to complete the “SnowBiz” Scavenger Hunt, so swing the Welcome Center to pick up a form.
We hope you find all the frosty fun this weekend! Learn more about upcoming events in Southwestern Michigan at stjoetoday.com or follow St. Joseph Today on Facebook.