Don't let cabin fever keep you cooped up at home. You can find signature festivals and exciting events all winter long in Missouri. From one of the country's largest Mardi Gras celebrations to one of the best documentary film festivals in the nation, there's plenty to do – inside and out – this winter in the Show-Me State.
Food and Drink
Treat your taste buds at the Midwest Beer, Wine, Cheese and Chocolate Festival Feb. 8 in Springfield. The event offers tastings, live music, educational seminars and cooking demonstrations from top local chefs.
Sample two favorites – wine and chocolate – perfectly paired during the Chocolate Wine Trail Feb. 22-23 in historic Missouri wine country. Seven wineries along the Hermann Wine Trail will satisfy your sweet tooth with specialties such as triple chocolate expresso brownies, chocolate bread pudding and chocolate gooey butter cake served with award-winning wines.
St. Louis is home to the second largest Mardi Gras celebration in the nation. Soulard Mardi Gras will feature a wide range of activities from Jan. 6-Feb. 25, including the Family Winter Carnival Jan. 11, Cajun Cook-off Feb. 8 and the world's largest costumed Pet Parade Feb. 16. Don't miss the premiere event, the Grand Parade, Feb. 22.
Bundle up and embrace winter weather at The Loop Ice Carnival in St. Louis. Ice sculptures, ice carving demonstrations, ice slides, carnival rides, a zip line and other activities will fill St. Louis' Delmar Loop neighborhood Jan. 17-19.
Kansas City honors its rich Irish heritage with leprechauns, elaborate floats and marching bands during the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade. The theme of this year's parade March 17 is Irish Wit and Whimsy. Dozens of local restaurants and bars will serve up Irish specialties and green beverages throughout the day.
Art and Music
Immerse yourself in the sounds of bluegrass music - from traditional to progressive - at the Bluegrass Showcase Feb. 29 in the southwest Missouri town of Neosho. More than 20 bluegrass bands from across the Midwest will play throughout the day. Food trucks and local restaurants in the historic downtown district will provide a variety of dining options.
The True False Film Festival, March 5-8 in Columbia, attracts filmmakers and attendees from across the country to celebrate documentary films as an art form. Musicians and artists contribute to an immersive arts experience throughout downtown. The festival's kick-off parade, the March March, includes colorful floats and costumed revelers, live music and an array of entertainers in a vivid display of creativity and imagination.
Keep your eyes on the sky to spot majestic bald eagles soaring above Missouri's rivers and lakes during the winter months. Eagle-watching events and related activities are held at locations across the state including:
The opening day of trout season, March 1, is a time-honored tradition in Missouri. Thousands of fishermen gather at three Missouri State Parks – Bennett Spring, Montauk and Roaring River – and Maramec Spring Park, owned and operated by the non-profit James Foundation, to fish for trout in the parks' crystal-clear streams. The catch-and-keep season runs through Oct. 31.
Watch paddlers from across the country navigate kayaks and canoes through class II and III rapids during the Missouri Whitewater Championships March 20-22 at the Millstream Gardens Conservation Area near Fredericktown. The 53rd annual competition, sponsored by the Missouri Whitewater Association, features slalom and downriver races on the St. Francis River, located in the Missouri Ozarks.
Written by Liz Coleman