Participants in Heikinpäivä in bear costumes
Polar bears welcome you to Hancock’s Heikinpäivä, the town’s mid-winter festival.

Rhymes with Win

The substantial Finnish community of Hancock in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula celebrates the midpoint of winter this weekend with the annual Heikinpäivä festival. And while those of Nordic ancestry will find special resonance in the weekend’s activities, the festival welcomes both those with and without northern European roots with its offering of the cuisine, art, games, and ethnic costumes of Finland. Highlights of the weekend:

  • The yearly parade steps off at 11 a.m. on Saturday, January 26 at Bridge School, with locals competing for best-in-show honors for Finnish-themed costumes, floats, and performances. After marching through downtown Hancock, parade goers can compete for prizes in kick-sled races and a wife-carrying contest.
  • “Tori”—Finnish marketplaces—will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, January 26 at Hancock’s Finnish American Heritage Center and the First United Methodist Church. The marketplace will feature vendors specializing in handmade crafts and cuisine and will feature performances by Finnish-American acts throughout the day.
  • At 3 p.m. on Saturday, a dozen hearty souls are expected to suit up in Finnish bathing costumes and dive into the freezing waters of the Portage Canal. Cash prizes will be awarded for best costumes and diving execution.
  • Saturday night is feast night with a Seisovapöytä (Finnish buffet) at Hancock’s Zion Lutheran Church. Tickets for the meal are $18. A silent auction will proceed during the banquet.

GO Heikinpäivä festival in Hancock, Michigan. For more information, go to

Where to Stay: The Magnuson Hotel Copper Crown (235 Hancock St., Hancock, 906-482-6111, has heated snowmobile parking and free continental breakfast and is located near Ojibwa Casino and Portage Lake; rates range from $60 to $70 per night. Travelodge of Houghton (215 Shelden Ave., Houghton, 906-482-1400, offers rooms within walking distance of shops and restaurants and within a mile of the Mont Ripley Ski Area; rates range from about $64 to $129 a night.

Where to Eat: The Library Restaurant and Brew Pub (62 Isle Royale St., Houghton, 906-487-5882, offers an extensive array of on-tap craft beers and a dinner menu of steaks, seafood, and pasta. The Suomi Restaurant (54 Huron St., Houghton, 906-482-3220) serves breakfast and lunch with a Finnish flair, specializing in Pannukakku (oven-baked custard) with warm raspberry sauce and nisu (Finnish sweet bread with cardamom).


Photograph: Roland Burgan/City of Hancock