This Ontario town turns its main street into a massive tubing hill for an epic winter festival

a photo of the snow tubing hill in downtown Bracebridge Photo by Scott Turnbull

Your chance to walk (and play!) in a winter wonderland didn’t end at Christmas. The Fire and Ice Festival in Bracebridge, Ontario, which takes place on January 27, 2024, is an absolutely magical way to celebrate the season. Here’s how you can participate in the merriment.

If you’ll pardon the pun, the spark for the Fire and Ice Festival ignited in 2013 when a few “crazy individuals” (their words, not ours!) thought it might be cool to create a toboggan run in downtown Bracebridge. 

With 50-plus truckloads of snow and an army of volunteers, their vision was realized, and now the annual celebration brings frosty fun to an average of 15,000 attendees. Inner tubes are used instead of toboggans, but aside from that, the event has stayed true to its roots.

Wondering what happens with the tubing hill if there isn’t enough snow? “We do everything in our power to pull snow from far and wide to make the downtown tubing run happen,” says Tracy Larkman, BIA Manager and Fire and Ice Festival organizer. “Ultimately we’re at the mercy of Mother Nature. So if there isn’t enough snow, unfortunately, the big tube run won’t be able to happen.” Not to worry, though! Larkman says a mini tube slide runs regardless, and that the rest of the event is a go no matter what.

Speaking of the rest of the event…

The Fire and Ice Festival has two spectacular components. The “Fire” component includes heart-pounding performances by talented fire artists, public fire pits (and yummy treats, like roasted marshmallows), and a fireworks display. “Ice” events include interactive ice displays, ice sculpture carvings, and ice skating.

The schedule begins early. This year, the pancake breakfast runs from 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and includes a meet and greet with Frozen’s “Anna” and “Elsa.” More events include a drum circle, beer garden, busker show, and even axe throwing and a lumberjack show. The excitement continues all day long and doesn’t end until the wee hours of the morning when the Bad Winter Fire and Ice Bash after-party wraps up.

Bracebridge’s Fire and Ice Festival takes place in Memorial Park and along several main streets (including Mary Street, Rene Caisse Lane, Taylor Road, and Ontario Street). Of course, don’t forget to visit Manitoba Street for a tube run!

A festival pass costs $10 for participants age 13 and older. Kids between six and 12 pay $5, and those five and under are free. You can purchase passes online or in-person on the day of. 

There is an additional cost for some attractions (such as the pancake breakfast and the after-party).

Volunteers are the heart and soul of the Fire and Ice Festival, and happily, you don’t need to be a fire-eater or ice-carver to help! Volunteers assist with ticket sales, parking, set up and tear down, waste management, and attending the tube run and fire pit. Plus, did we mention volunteers gain free access to the festival and a pass allowing them to skip the line for the tube run? Sign us up!

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