With winter approaching, it can be hard remember there’s time for anything other than getting ready for the hustle and bustle of family, friends, snow, food, and fun.
But the Flathead Valley has a vibrant lineup of community events that shouldn’t be missed, reminding us to take a moment to spend time with our community and neighbors while participating in well-worn seasonal traditions.
The events are also a perfect escape for any built-up cabin fever, especially as we enter the winter’s visitor season. From Whitefish to Bigfork, here are a few of the winter events worthy of marking your calendar.
Be sure to visit www.FlatheadEvents.net for daily updates on happenings around the valley.
Downtown Kalispell Art Walk and Holiday Stroll
Dec. 1, 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Wander around the festive downtown of Kalispell, where storefronts will be alight with holiday cheer, fun, and free refreshments. Peruse local artists’ creations while enjoying a craft brew and get to know local businesspeople, all while getting stamps at participating locations to enter yourself in a gift-certificate drawing. The tree-lighting ceremony in Depot Park begins at 6 p.m.
Columbia Falls Night of Lights
Dec. 1, 5 p.m.
Gather in downtown Columbia Falls with residents, local businesses, organizations, and community groups as they celebrate their Christmas spirit. The main event is the parade at 6:30 p.m., which will be followed by caroling, warming fires, cocoa, vendors, and a live nativity scene at The Coop downtown. Be sure to stick around until the end of the parade to see Santa!
Whitefish Christmas Stroll
Dec. 8, 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
One of the biggest events of the year, the Christmas Stroll in Whitefish shuts down Central Avenue to car traffic and yields the street to revelers, food trucks, and live entertainment. Get photos with Santa, watch the tree lighting at about 6:20 p.m., and make merry.
Skijoring at Rebecca Farm
Dec. 30 – 31
Held last year in Lakeside, the skijoring competition — during which a skier is pulled around a course with jumps by a horse — makes its move to the internationally known Rebecca Farm equestrian facility west of Kalispell. This year’s winnings purse, raised via sponsorships, is expected to total $25,000.
New Year’s Eve Rail Jam and Torchlight Parade
Whitefish Mountain Resort, Dec. 31, 3 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.
Watch as skiers and snowboarders hit the rails and boxes on a custom venue during the Rail Jam as they compete for a $1,000 cash purse. Following the jam, watch the torchlight parade down the mountain to celebrate the New Year, followed by fireworks at 6:30 p.m. Round out the night with live music at Ed and Mully’s and the Bierstube.
Polar Bear Plunge
Woods Bay, Jan. 1, 10 a.m.
Celebrate the New Year with a brisk and bracing dip in Flathead Lake. The Raven specializes in making this plunge not only freezing, but fun, with costumes, a chili feed, and warm beverages. Onlookers are also invited; not everyone needs to jump into the lake to have a good time, but it helps! The plunge happens at 2 p.m.
Whitefish Winter Carnival LIX
Feb. 2 – 4
The winter carnival is one of Whitefish’s longest-running winter traditions, bringing locals and visitors together in the streets to break up the seasonal monotony with parties, kings and queens, yetis, penguins, parades, and more fun than any one city knows what to do with. This year’s theme: Fly Like an Eagle.
Cabin Fever Days
Bad Rock Canyon, Feb. 9 – 11
For 40 years, the folks in Bad Rock Canyon have busted through their cabin fever with a myriad of creative and extremely entertaining events all wrapped up in a weekend of fun, all while raising money for canyon community causes. The World Famous Barstool Ski Races in Martin City are the main event, but there are events in communities all through the canyon all weekend.