Heikinpaiva: Michigan’s Weird, Wonderful, Finnish Winter Festival

finnish kicksled

Throughout most of the country, the middle of February signals winter’s last call. But in a certain tiny island at the top of the world (or at least at the top of the Midwest), it means the season is just hitting its peak.

Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula is a landscape of snow-shaggy evergreens, pearly sunsets, and sub-zero temperatures that will put hair on your chest. Life here revolves around the weather patterns dictated by Superior, the world’s largest freshwater lake. A Keweenaw winter combines the midwest’s legendary winter storms with “lake effect” snow, smothering this isolated region in an average 12 feet of powder.

That extra helping of snow means world-class Nordic skiing, the best alpine skiing in the Midwest, and guaranteed conditions for snowmobilers, snowshoers, and backcountry enthusiasts a good six weeks longer than anywhere else nearby. But for the miners and lumbermen of past centuries, it meant no travel for local residents between December and March.

For this reason, midwinter in the Keweenaw is an occasion for a weird and wonderful festival known as Heikinpaiva. Originating from a traditional Finnish saint’s day long since abandoned by the old country, this festival gives the typically stoic Yoopers a chance to loosen up in some old-fashioned tomfoolery.

Lasting nearly a month, Heikinpaiva includes an array of outdoor games, community gatherings, and customs dredged up from the ancient past. Here are some of the weirdest and most wonderful highlights from this month-long winter extravaganza in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula.

All images courtesy of Chelsea Batten/The Manual.

Travel

Luxury Train Travel: Ride the Rails in Splendor Aboard One of These Extravagant Trains

Watch as amazing landscapes rush by while indulging in five-course meals before drifting off to sleep in your private cabin to the rhythmic rocking of the rails.
Fashion & Style

Snow Doesn’t Stand a Chance Against the Best Winter Boots for Men

Brands big and small, expected and unexpected — we’ve got you covered.
Culture

Stay Fit This Winter with the Best Off-Season Training Gear for Men

We’ve pulled together some essentials for training outside long after the good weather’s gone.
Auto

Porsche GT2 RS MR Destroys Lamborghini’s Record on the ‘Ring

Porsche's ballsiest 911 ever shaved another four seconds off its lap time to re-take the title of "King of the 'Ring."
Grooming

Aesop x Rimowa Köln Travel Kit Is the Dream Dopp Kit

This isn't your average, everyday, run-of-the-mill travel grooming kit.
Travel

Crossroads Hotel Opens in Kansas City’s Former Pabst Brewing Co. Plant

Tattoo artist-designed wallpaper and a KC-centric rooftop bar — what's not to like?
Travel

Hate Hostels? Hilton’s New Hotel Concept Wants to Change That

Motto by Hilton offers a fresh approach to modern budget travel with an updated and elevated micro-hotel format.
Travel

An Introduction to the Most Fascinating Ghost Towns of America

During the 1800s, towns across the United States seemingly sprung up overnight with the discovery of gold. Many are now the ghost towns we know today.
Travel

Virgin Voyages Announces Squid Ink, the World’s First Tattoo Studio at Sea

Now, after one too many daiquiris aboard a cruise ship, you can commemorate the experience forever with a tattoo.
Travel

World’s First ‘Craft Beer Airline’ Scheduled to Takeoff from London

It's kind of like Hooters Air, but with better beer and less pantyhose.
Travel

The Best Travel and Adventure Documentaries on Netflix Right Now

If you're reading this, you're staring at a screen. Wouldn't you rather be exploring a different part of the world than the Internet? So get inspired.
Travel

10 Best Travel Gifts for a Modern Gentleman Nomad

For the sophisticated gentleman traveler in your life, your holiday shopping begins here.
Travel

The Ultimate Guide to a Road Trip Across Newfoundland

One of Canada’s most remote provinces is also one of the most spectacular places to visit within the massive country.
1 of 15