There’s nothing quite like filling your lungs with a deep breath of Maine winter air. Despite all the windshield scraping and bone-chilling temperatures, winter in these parts has much to offer, both indoors and out. We’ve defrosted several annual events and thrown in a few new ones to help you thrive, rather than just survive, this first winter of the new decade.

Welcome to Winter Festival
12:30-2:30 p.m. Jan. 18. Payson Park, Portland, free.
Sledding and skating and snowshoeing, oh my! WinterKids is the local nonprofit whose mission is to help children develop healthy lifelong habits through fun, outdoor winter activity. Here’s a chance to live this dream at its annual Welcome to Winter Festival. Your kids will have a blast and so will you. The two-hour get-together is free, so there’s no need to dip into your slush fund!

Maine Motorsports Xtreme International Ice Racing Championships happens on Jan. 18. Photo by Steve Girard

Maine Motorsports Xtreme International Ice Racing Championships
7 p.m. Jan. 18. Cross Insurance Arena, 1 Civic Center Square, Portland, $10 to $25.
Wait, what? Motorcycles with crazy studded tires racing around a track made of ice? You bet! For a thrilling evening of competitive ice racing on modified speedway bikes and quads, head to Cross Insurance Arena. The tires have more than 2,000 metal studs, and none of the bikes has brakes. You’ve never seen anything quite like this, so get a grip and don’t let tickets slip through your hands.

Scene from the 2015 Ice Bar at the Portland Harbor Hotel. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Ice Bar at Portland Harbor Hotel
Jan. 23-25. Portland Harbor Hotel, 468 Fore St., Portland, $35 to $48, 21-plus.
For as cold as January is in Maine, tickets to Portland Harbor Hotel’s annual Ice Bar are scorching hot, so if you want in on this, jump on them so you’re not literally left out in the cold. Ice Bar features exquisitely carved ice bars and ice sculptures. DJ Jon will be spinning tunes, and you can revel by the fire pits while chomping on complimentary hors d’oeuvres. Best of all, you’ll sip on specialty martinis poured from luges and will get to give fellow attendees the friendly cold shoulder.

120 beers will be available for sampling at Portland on Tap. Per Bengtsson/

Portland On Tap
Noon and 6 p.m. sessions. Jan. 25. Cross Insurance Area, 1 Civic Center Square, Portland, $35, 21-plus.
So much beer! The 6th Annual Portland On Tap craft beer festival is an event that’s truly lager than life. There are two sessions to choose from and both feature more than 120 beers from over 60 breweries that you can sample. You’ll also hear live tunes from local rock band Holly Heist and can purchase all sorts of food, including Asian fry boxes, burgers, clam chowder and more. You can also try your luck at games, including Kan Jam and Ladder Golf.

Fun was had during the 2014 Biddeford Winterfest. John Ewing/Staff Photographer

Biddeford Winterfest
Jan. 31 to Feb 2. City Square, Biddeford.
Biddeford wants to cure your cabin fever and has figured out a really fun way to do it. Winterfest kicks off on Friday with an adults-only sledding party on Adams Street Hill, complete with after-party. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, events include Adams Street sledding, snow golf and showshoeing, fat-bike demos, snowperson building, pony rides, horse-pulled wagon rides and the Winter Wonderland art exhibit at City Hall. From 1 to 10 p.m., you can hit the Winter Carnival Ice Bar at Run of The Mill, there’s a Winter Funderland Happy Hour at Shevenell Park from 4 to 6 p.m., and comic Juston McKinney has a 7 p.m. show at City Theater. The fest winds down on Sunday morning with a community bike ride through Clifford Park at 10 a.m.


Carnaval ME makes it debut in Portland.

Carnaval ME
Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. Eastern Promenade, Portland, $20 to $65, 3 and under free.
This sounds spectacular! Inspired by Carnaval de Québec, Carnaval ME is a two-day winter festival on Portland’s Eastern Promenade that features a rail jam and sledding hill, artistic light displays, live ice sculptures, frozen selfie-stations, live entertainment, visits with Maine mascots, bonfires, and the Bites & Brews igloo. Want even more? Splurge for the Thursday night (Jan. 30) Maine Bicentennial Snow Ball (tickets are $100 to the 21-plus event).

A toboggan team races down the chute at Camden Snow Bowl. David Leaming/Staff Photographer

U.S. National Toboggan Championships
Feb. 7-9. Camden Snow Bowl, 20 Barnestown Road.
Want to slide down a huge wooden chute and end up in the middle of a frozen pond? Of course you do! For one of the most exhilarating winter experiences you can have in Maine this winter, get a team together and register for the annual U.S. National Toboggan Championships. Two, three and four-person teams will race against the clock for the fastest time down the toboggan chute. Many teams suit up in clever costumes and often deck their toboggans out in fun ways, adding to an already festive weekend of racing and reveling. If you’re not up for the actual race, you’re still very much welcome to the party, as cheering teams on as they whiz by you in the chute is an absolute blast.

Winter Carnival
Feb. 15. Gilsland Farm, 20 Gilsland Farm Road, Falmouth, $9, 2 and under free.
It’s a perfect spot, if ever there was one, for a Maine winter carnival. Maine Audubon’s Gilsland Farm hosts festivities that celebrate winter weather and wildlife. Kids will learn, create and play at several indoor and outdoor activity stations. Tracking activities, a winter wildlife touch table, snow science art, face painting and snowshoeing with L.L. Bean’s Outdoor Discovery School are some of what’s on the schedule.

The OOB Winter Carnival sledding hill. Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

OOB Winter Carnival
Feb. 21 & 22. Old Orchard Beach. On Facebook.
OOB365 is a volunteer group of event planners who sure know what they’re doing. This year is the 10th annual OOB Winter Carnival, and the centerpiece is a massive snow hill down Old Orchard Street where all of your sledding dreams will come true. But that’s not all. The carnival also includes pony rides, a petting zoo, food from the Maine Kitchen food truck and more fun than you can shake an icicle at. You’ll breathe in the fresh, salty air of the Atlantic ocean as you and yours catch a fabulous case of February fever.

Ice Bar at The Brunswick Hotel
Feb. 21 & 22. The Brunswick Hotel, 4 Noble St., Brunswick, $27 in advance, $30 at the door.
Winter bliss can be yours in Brunswick. The Brunswick Hotel loves to make their outdoor patio an icy oasis complete with dazzling ice bars and sculptures and cocktails that make their way to the glass via an ice luge. Chef Lamoureux’s mouth-watering spread will keep your belly happy, while a fire keeps you warm. You can also duck into the ballroom for dancing.

Cooper’s Maple Products was part of Maine Maple Sunday in 2017. Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

Maine Maple Sunday
March 22. Statewide.
How sweet it is to hit one of several sugar houses on Maine Maple Sunday. Maine’s maple syrup producers open their doors to the public and let it flow, so to speak, with many offering free syrup samples and demonstrations. Learn how pure Maine maple syrup is made and have a whole bunch of fun with games, activities, treats, sugarbush tours, music and more. There’s no need to waffle on this one: Get in your car and hit the sticky trail!

Beer and skiing are a match made in Maine winter heaven at Sunday River. AS-kom/

Maine Brew Fest Spring Session
March 28. Sunday River, 15 South Ridge Road, Newry.
It technically be spring, but there will still be plenty of snow and plenty of skiing and snowboarding to be had at Sunday River. If you’re a fan of these sports, and also of craft beer, you’re in luck. The Maine Brew Fest Spring Session features nearly 100 craft beers and ciders for sampling. Of course you can always skip the skiing altogether and just stick to sipping. The choice is yours, but either way, it’s a slam dunk good time.

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