January 15, 2018

Yetis, skijoring and kidnapping: A weird winter festival in the U.S.

The legend behind Montana's Whitefish Winter Carnival sounds like it could be from 'Game of Thrones'

Festivals Winter
View from top of Big Mountain near Whitefish Rajesh Dhawan/Wikimedia Commons

View from top of Big Mountain, near Whitefish, Montana.

This winter, you might consider traveling to the northwestern region of the United States. For decades, the town of Whitefish, Montana has thrown a festival loosely based on Nordic traditions.

At the Whitefish Winter Carnival, there's a parade, skijoring (where ski racers are pulled by horses) and penguin costumes.

Adding to the weirdness, the legend behind the festival sounds like it could be a "Game of Thrones" plot. The story includes a queen, a kidnapping and a monster who thrives in the cold.


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It starts with a god named Ullr, who once reigned over winter activities in the Nordic regions, with aid from his prime minister and queen.

As his subjects began to explore the world more, they remembered and honored their god less, forcing Ullr to search for a new place to call home.

He, and his prime minister and queen, settled on a mountain in Whitefish. A tribe of Yetis found them, however, and attempted to kidnap the queen.

While the Yetis were unsuccessful, the monsters continued to pose a problem.

When man invaded the area, Ullr chose to help them against the Yetis. He became their hero and it was proclaimed that there would be an annual winter celebration to honor him.

The 2018 Whitefish Winter Carnival will take place Friday, Feb. 2 through Sunday, Feb. 4, with events staged throughout the town and on Whitefish Mountain Ski Resort.

Popular festivities include the Penguin Plunge, where a hole is cut into Whitefish Lake so those daring enough can take an icy dip, and an old-fashioned main street parade, with decorated floats and costumed volunteers dressed as Yetis, Viking princesses and penguins.

It's a family-friendly celebration that brings the whole community together. The Winter Carnival does warn new attendees to be on the lookout, though. A Yeti attack can happen at any time.


Whitefish Winter Carnival 2018

Friday, Feb. 2 through Sunday, Feb. 4
Whitefish, Montana