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A guide to the Winter Carnival in Madison, WI

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A decade’s long prank recreated | Photo by smostagram

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Wisconsinites know the only thing that stands between them + the great outdoors is plenty of layers. So bundle up for the return of the Wisconsin Union’s Winter Carnival.

A little bit of history

1910s: The tradition on UW-Madison’s campus — originally dubbed the Ice Carnival — kicked off under the leadership of the Wisconsin Student Board. Students participated in ski jumping, broom hockey, ice sculpting, and a Snow Ball dance.

1940s: The Hoofers — the campus’ outdoor recreation experts — took over leadership of the frosty fun event. At the time, the biggest winter carnival activity was the annual ski meet. Hoofers went to extreme lengths to ensure fresh snow for the event — including snow dances + snow chants — but would also ship in the snow on trains if need be.

Present Day: The winter festival is now co-hosted by the Hoofers, Recreational Sports, and the Wisconsin Union. Events have been added and modified, but the annual Rail Jam is a nod to the original ski meet.

The Winter Carnival team invites all — including UW-Madison students, staff and faculty, Wisconsin Union members, and guests — to enjoy the week-long event.

For those wanting to stay cozy

❄️ 3D Snowflake Making | Mon., Feb. 7-Fri., Feb. 11 | 12-10 p.m. | Memorial Union, Wheelhouse Studios | Drop in to learn how to make a 3D snowflake.
❄️ Gingerbread House Decorating | Thurs., Feb. 10 | 6-7 p.m. | Memorial Union, Capitol View Room | Create your own gingerbread house with WUD Global Connections

For those who brought their snow pants

❄️ Ice Climbing Exhibition | Fri., Feb. 11 | 5-7 p.m. | Memorial Union, Lakefront | Learn the basics of ice climbing with the Hoofer Mountaineering Club.

❄️ Lady Liberty | Fri., Feb.11-Sat., Feb. 12 | Times vary | Memorial Union, Lakefront | Continue the tradition of the 1979 Pail and Shovel Party prank + take a picture with Lady Liberty.


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