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Winter Carnival, a winter recreation event series, returns Feb. 6-11 for 83rd year with more than a dozen brand-new events

Posted: 12/14/22

Winter Carnival, a winter recreation event series, returns Feb. 6-11 for 83rd year with more than a dozen brand-new events

From themed ice skating to maple taffy making, the Wisconsin Union's free wintertime revelry series the Winter Carnival returns for an 83rd year to Madison, Wis., Feb. 6-11, 2023. The series includes more than a dozen new events and the continuing of traditions, such as placing a to-scale, inflatable replica of the Statue of Liberty's head, arm, and torch on frozen Lake Mendota Feb. 10-11, 2023.

Winter Carnival features a blizzard of indoor and outdoor wintertime activities, including arts and crafts, outdoor recreation, film showings, food-making, and more presented by departments and clubs at the Wisconsin Union, with additional programming by community partners.

The Wisconsin Union's departments and clubs present the following Winter Carnival events:

Additional programming is presented by area partners University Recreation & Wellbeing (Rec Well) and the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association (WFAA), including the following:

“Winter Carnival brings together traditions and the unexpected, as evident by the list of events that includes – to name a few activities – petting ponies, maple taffy-making and ice skating,” Outdoor UW Director Dave Elsmo said. “Winter Carnival is a quintessential Madison experience unlike any other and a great, fun reason to venture out from home this winter.”

The Wisconsin Union has served as Winter Carnival’s headquarters since 1940. Since then, student leaders and staff at the Union have created an annual events lineup that provides community members and visitors with reasons to celebrate the chilly winter season. Many events nod to the Carnival’s long history and campus traditions.

For instance, the tradition of bringing the Statue of Liberty to Lake Mendota began with a prank in 1979 by the Pail and Shovel Party, which was led by UW–Madison alumni Leon Varjian and Jim Mallon ’79. Varjian and Mallon made a campaign promise that, if elected to the Wisconsin Student Association, they would bring the Statue of Liberty to Madison. The Pail and Shovel Party stayed true to their Lady Liberty promise by erecting a Styrofoam Lady Liberty head, arm and torch on Lake Mendota on Feb. 22, 1979.

While attending some Winter Carnival events, patrons can enjoy the Wisconsin Union's many on-site dining options at its building Memorial Union, including at iconic pub fare destination, der Rathskeller. Purchases at Memorial Union and Union South as well as donations to the Union help support low-cost and free events, such as the Carnival, and Wisconsin Union student leadership opportunities.

The event lineup is subject to change, including due to weather conditions. The Wisconsin Union team encourages guests to visit for the most up-to-date lineup and event updates.

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