Polar Fest Opens: Celebrate Winter in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota

Feb 13, 2022 | events/locations, evergreen

Watch the live feed of the ice palace being built!

Polar Fest is a festival of frozen fun held annually now through February 27th. It is created and run by an independent, all-volunteer committee of people who have learned to embrace the northern Minnesota winters. Polar Fest is affiliated with the non-profit PropelDL. We hold activities for a variety of ages and interests.

We have a variety of activities going on throughout our festival, so you’re sure to find one you’ll enjoy! From the Polar Plunge to vintage snowmobiles to our famous Frozen Fireworks, there’s something for everyone. Here are some examples of events from years past. Visit our Event Calendar for the full schedule!

Polar Fest is held annually in mid-February with the plunge and fireworks on the Saturday night of President’s Day weekend!


Polar Fest was started in 1996 by Erika Gilsdorf, former owner of Lakeside Tavern. She loves winter and wanted to see some sort of celebration of winter by the lake and outside her restaurant. Coincidentally, at the same time, Ron Zeman, former board member for Develop DL, heard about people jumping into a hole in the lake to raise money for an organization. He took that idea to the Boys & Girls Club and the “Polar Fest Plunge” was born.

Polar Fest continued until 2002 when lack of support left Polar Fest with only its key event — the Polar Plunge, but no other activities. In 2005, a group of crazy, winter-loving citizens came together to reinvigorate and warm up Polar Fest!

Since then, Polar Fest has continued, with the pinnacle event being the Polar Fest Plunge into Little Detroit Lake, plus myriad other activities ranging from golfing on the lake to presentations by polar explorers to dances in the sand. In 2008, fireworks on the last Saturday evening were added and that has become one of the highlights of the week-long winter celebration. Now, in 2021, two epic fireworks displays will take place, one to kick off the festival, and the other to mark its end.


As Long As The Rivers Shall Run: Artwork by Ellen Sandbeck – Duluth, MN



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