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Heart of Lewisburg Ice Festival

The Holidays are officially over. The celebrations are over; the diet is back in full-swing and the decorations are back up in the attic. Winter is upon us and we can easily fall victim to cabin fever or the mid-winter blues. But alas there is relief in sight. The Lewisburg Ice Festival offers that perfect antidote to the winter blahs, hosting a variety of things to enjoy in spite of Old Man Winter.

Traditionally held the first weekend in February, The Lewisburg Ice Festival showcases magnificent ice sculptures, chili, children’s games, the notorious Polar Bear Plunge and a Chocolate Lover’s Festival. How can you stay home when there is this much going on

The Heart of Lewisburg Ice Festival started in 2004 to help brand the downtown as the “heart” of the greater Lewisburg community and to get everyone engaged in creating a weekend filled with fun and activities. Throughout the years, more and more people have helped create an event-filled weekend that draws people from far and wide. Each year is jam-packed with events and activities so mark your calendars – and spend the next few weeks talking yourself into registering for the Polar Bear Plunge – I dare you!

Friday’s events start at Hufnagle Park with ice sculptors creating works of art that will be found both in the park and at storefronts throughout downtown.  You’ll be amazed to see how these sculptures are created – and remember this – they make great photo opportunities (think of those Christmas cards for next year)! Afterwards, meander the shops, cafes and restaurants, grabbing a Hot Toddy, hot cup of tea, cocoa or coffee, a steaming bowl of soup, or a post holiday gift just for yourself - Lewisburg stores are upon until 9 pm that night and offer weekend discounts for owners of the “Heart of Lewisburg Ice Festival Shopping Pass”. Make sure to be free at 6:30 pm to head to the magnificently restored Campus Theatre to listen to the “A Cappela on Ice” concert that will make you Glee-full.

Start Saturday at the Lewisburg Club for their all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast from 7-11am. If you want to burn those pancakes off quickly register to run the Frosty 5K that starts at 11am. Make sure to bring the children, nieces and nephews to Hufnagle Park between 10am and 2pm for games and fun. Then cross the street to Purseil’s Irish Pub between 11am and 3pm for their Chili Cook Off, with winners and prizes announced at 3 pm.

Now 2 pm is the time to remember as it is the time that separates the Polar Bears from ordinary men and women. Make sure to navigate your way to the St. George Street river landing around 1:30 pm. And though I dare, implore, grovel and beg all to take part in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity [that is great for the pores and circulation…or so they say], the festival like atmosphere at the river landing for the Polar Bear Plunge is one to enjoy and people-watch… or should I say “polar bear watch?” This is NOT the time that turns grown men into sopranos and grown women into popsicles…it is the time that turns grown men into Polar Bear Warriors and grown women into Polar Bear Amazons!

And what a better way to cap off the weekend than with Cocoa Fest – a chocolate festival just for kids at the Donald Heiter Community Center (6:30 pm to 10:30 pm) and with the official Chocolate Lover’s Festival for adults at the Lewisburg Hotel, starting at 7 pm? And just think… Sunday morning you can sleep in under the covers… all warm and rested, knowing you didn’t fall victim to cabin fever; didn’t let Old Man Winter get the best of you, and hopefully, now have the bragging rights as an official Polar Bear!

Fun Facts

Ice sculptures are done by the award winning “”First Night Carvers”

  • Based upon winter temperatures, some ice sculptures have lasted up to 2 weeks after the Hearts of Lewisburg Ice Festival.
  • Best place to park is the free Fifth Street parking lot – turn east into Cherry Alley from N. Fifth Street.
  • The event is a true community collaboration and includes the Lewisburg Downtown Partnership, Lewisburg Arts Council, Borough of Lewisburg, the Donald Heiter Center, Lions Club, Sunset Rotary and downtown businesses. Many Bucknell University groups also participate.
  • The Polar Bear Plunge attracts over 200 participants including many from out of state. The event is considered a “rite of passage” by many Bucknell University students, Fraternities and Sororities. 
  • Polar Bear Plungers often come dressed in costumes. Spectators have witnessed men in tutus; the “Running of the Bison”; prison chain-gangs in orange jump suits; bathing suits & cowboy boots, plus the normal speedos and bikinis.
  • The Chocolate Lovers Festival at the Lewisburg Hotel is $25 [tickets limited and first-come, first-served] for all you can eat hors d’oevres, all you can sample chocolates and beverages, plus a silent auction, raffle and cash bar. Ticket on-line only at DonaldHeiter.org.

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“I treasure the generosity and involvement from the volunteers of the Susquehanna River Valley.” – Brenda, Sunbury, PA