Winter Festivals Warm Up Western MA
Celebrates The coldest, bleakest stretch of winter upon us – and it’s time to celebrate! With the coming of February comes a host of community winter celebrations and festivals of all kinds, offering families a chance to enjoy time outside, try new foods, learn about cultural traditions, support local teams, and more!
The town of Greenfield will be celebrating all weekend – Greenfield Winter Carnival takes place from February 1st-3rd, and offers exciting events for all ages throughout town. Friday night kicks off the carnival with a bonfire and fire dancing performance at Beacon Field, ice skating at Collins-Moylan Arena, and ice carving, a cribbage tournament, art exhibits, and more downtown. Saturday brings the annual Sleigh Bell Run, and is Family Fun Day, too- meaning that the Greenfield Youth Center will host games, crafts, a family movie, and more throughout the day. Hockey fans can see two local teams – one women’s and one men’s – play exciting games on Saturday, too, and outdoors enthusiasts can take a snowshoe trek! Finally, Sunday brings fun snow-related activities like sledding, an outdoor community tug of war, a snowman village, snow sculptures, and a bonfire!
The following weekend, the town of Amherst’s annual Winterfest will take place at the Cherry Hill Golf Course on Saturday, February 9th from 1-6pm. The festival will have everything from sled races to chili! Families can enjoy an afternoon outdoors of cross country skiing or snowshoeing, sleigh rides, frisbee, hoola hoop games, sledding (including the annual Cardboard Classic sled race!), and more. Then, warm up inside and fill your belly at a cider donut eating contest, the chili cook off, a wine and cheese tasting for grown ups, and more! The event also includes dance and music performances, and the night will end with fireworks! The golf course is located on Montague Road in north Amherst. Tickets are available at the event.
For a celebration of cultural traditions from down south, look no further than Ashfield for this year’s Winklepicker Festival! Held from February 15-17th, the festival is the hilltowns’ own Mardi Gras party – there will be celebrations of the food, costume, dance, and music of Mardi Gras all weekend long! Highlights include a New Orleans-style dinner at Elmer’s Store, a cooking class with chef Carlos Neville, a kids’ Mardi Gras ball featuring live music from Primate Fiasco (as well as a Mardi Gras ball for big people, too), and live music from Eileen Jewell, Charles Neville, and the Salvation Alley String Band.
Finally, the Lee Cabin Fever Festival will add some excitement to school vacation week, and is filled with all sorts of events to help families shake off the winter blues. Held from February 15th-22nd, the festival includes events like the crazy (and annual!) bathing suit dash down Main Street, ice and snow sculpting competitions, the Taste of Lee restaurant event, a short film festival, special storytimes, and more – check the schedule to find fun events throughout school vacation.
[Photo credit: (ccl) Squirmelia]