AUBURN — Love being outside in winter? For more than a decade, the city’s annual Winter Festival has provided families an opportunity to play outside — skiing, sliding, snowshoeing, biking, sledding — and, of course, finishing the day with a cup of hot chocolate.

The three-day festival gets underway this Friday with the opening of the snow playground at Central Maine Community College, public skating at Walton Elementary School and snowman-making on the front lawn of the Auburn Public Library from 3 to 5 p.m.

There will be snowmobile rides at Lost Valley in the evening, along with s’mores around the bonfire from 5 to 8 p.m.

For those who don’t want to brave the cold temperatures, forecast to be single digits, Scott Andrews of the Ski Museum of Maine will present a fireside chat on the history of skiing in Maine at the Auburn Public Library from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Friday.

Jan Biron, administrative assistant for the Auburn Recreation Department, said the Winter Fest has “something for everybody, for every enthusiast of winter sports.”

In past years, some of the activities were curtailed because of lack of snow. That isn’t going to be a problem this weekend, Biron said.


In fact, the biggest obstacle the city has faced in preparing for the festival is freeing up Public Works to build the snow playground. Crews have been working overtime for days, on snow removal from recent storms, she said, and are now tackling snow removal along the sidewalks.

They’ve still got a lot of work to do and are exhausted, Biron said, but “they know what a great event this is, so they’re putting forward every effort to get it done.”

The snow playground is amazing, Biron said, because crews use reinforced tubes to build a playground over and under the snow. Parents can be sure their children are safe because of the reinforced structure, he said.

“Kids can slide and crawl through these mazes that are underneath these big piles of snow,” she said.

Recreation Department Director Ravi Sharma said the playground will stay up after Winter Fest as long as it’s safe, and families are welcome to play there whenever they like.

While there are admission fees for some events, skating at Walton and skiing at Lost Valley on Saturday night will be free. The movies and games at various venues also will be free, as will snowmobile rides at the Lake Auburn Community Center on Saturday and snowshoeing at Mount Apatite on Sunday morning.

The annual event draws hundreds of people to Auburn, Biron said, and she promised something for everyone who loves the cold, snow and ice, “depending on what your interest is.”

For more information about the festival, including a detailed schedule, go to

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