When was the first Hoofers Winter Carnival, and is there one this year?
A dusting of snow and a nip of cold have never deterred a true Badger from playing outside. Hoofers — UW–Madison’s resident experts on the joy of the great outdoors — knows this well. Since 1940, Hoofers has hosted the annual Winter Carnival, a weekend of frosty fun made up over the years of everything from ski trips and snowshoe hikes to bonfires and hot chocolate. Known in the past as “Winter Week” or “Winterama,” this UW tradition began between 1915 and 1920 as the “Ice Carnival” under the leadership of the Wisconsin Student Board. Early Winter Carnivals featured events like a ski jump on Muir Knoll (the unofficial birthplace of Hoofers); broom hockey on the Terrace; ice sculpting on Bascom Hill; and the Snow Ball, an all-campus dance (thankfully, held indoors). While some timeless activities have endured, the Winter Carnival has varied its schedule of events, trading a dance hall for human bowling and ice dives for fireworks displays. Whether you dream of horse-drawn carriage rides around a snowy campus or you’re a thrill-seeker competing in the Ski and Snowboard Rail Jam on Observatory Hill, the Winter Carnival caters to all definitions of outdoor fun. For those anxiously awaiting their next chance to celebrate the season on Mendota’s frozen surface, this news should warm you right up: the 2021 Winter Carnival is ON with plenty of fun — both virtual and (safely) in-person — in store.