The population in the Brainerd Lakes Area grows drastically in the summer but what about the winter?  It just gets no love!  Those of us that live up here year round make the best of it with events that keep us going.

Every year, the day after Thanksgiving, Nisswa hosts the Nisswa City of Lights Celebration.  This goes from 2:00-12:00 and includes activities in the afternoon like horse-drawn wagon rides, live reindeer, storytelling, food merchants, bonfires, and hot cider all leading into the downtown area lighting up their festive lights for the holidays at 5:30.  After the lights appear, Santa makes an appearance and fireworks are shot over the town starting at 7:30.  This is a family event that just keeps growing every year.

How about some ice fishing for the hopes of big prizes?  In January of 1991. the Brainerd Jaycees held the first of what became an annual event that would not only raise money for charities but also rally our community together.  Since then, this has now become the world’s largest ice fishing contest.  This even generates over $1 million in revenue for our area businesses and has grown to the point that over $150,000 area charities have benefited.  This event is held the last weekend in January and has now grown to the point that the crowds exceed 11,000!  People come from every corner of the United States and some as far away as Western Europe.  Prizes vary from year to year but the grand prize remains a new truck of choice, either a Ford or GMC.  Other prizes being ATV’s, fishing houses, fishing gear and so much more.  For this weekend, the frozen tundra of Gull Lake looks like a large town!

Another fun weekend that revolves around Gull Lake is the last weekend in February when we start out with a Frozen Flop on Friday evening.  And yes, that is exactly what you think, a large hole cut in the ice and crazy individuals jumping into the lake all in the name of charity.  If you’re like me, there is no way that I’ll be jumping in that water but I will happily sit in the bleachers cheering everyone on and taking pictures!  Saturday then begins the Frozen Fore which is a golf tournament of sorts.  There are 9 bars that circle the lake and each bar has a different golf hole to try your luck at.  You can snowmobile between these holes or just on the provided shuttles.  The daytime fun ends with a tent party with a live band.  Sunday wraps up the weekend with a Food Fest.  Local restaurants showcase their foods in a taste competition allowing you to snack your way through and vote for your favorite.  Another weekend of fun that benefits Kids Against Hunger and Confidence Learning Center.

You could also look into Crosslake Ice Car racing.  These are free events to watch and the races will be held every Saturday starting the end of January.  Maybe you want to try something out of the norm ~ check out the Brainerd Lakes Curling Club.   With so many things going on in the winter months in the Brainerd Lakes Area, this is just a sample of a few.  There is a never a shortage of ice fishing happening, snowmobiling, snow shoeing, skiing, or one of my personal favorites, sitting in an outdoor hot tub, toasty warm with icicles hanging from your hair!