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Fire & Ice 2021 returns to Ely

By Nora Tarte
Published: Last Updated on

Nevada’s Annual Festival Returns Jan. 15-17

Since 2003, Ely, Nevada has been home to one of Nevada’s best annual festivals, a culmination of spectacular firework displays and icy competitions that celebrate locals’ skills in cross country skiing, ice sculpture building and more. And the beloved event is returning for its 19th year Jan. 15-17 in Ely.

The Fire & Ice Festival is part arts festival, part winter sport competition. On Jan. 15, it kicks off with an opening ceremony and continues Saturday with two ice-centric events. First thing in the morning, the annual Bristlecone Birkebeiner, the longest-running cross-country ski event in Nevada, dating back to 1983, will take place.

“We are focusing on outdoor only events… just to try and keep it as safe as possible,” said Kyle Horvath, director of tourism for White Pine County.

During the event, people of all ages and skill levels are welcome to compete from short course to long course to even a kid’s race (less than 1 mile). The routes range in length from 1.5 miles to 4.1 miles for adults.

Regardless of weather, the Bristlecone Birkebeiner is scheduled to run. If there isn’t enough snow on the ground, it will turn into a foot trail race instead. The fat tire/mountain bike race will take place, as well, whether there is snow on the ground or not.

The 2019 Fire & Ice Winter Festival in Ely included ice bowling.
The 2019 Fire & Ice Winter Festival in Ely included ice bowling. Image: Sydney Martinez / Travel Nevada

The next event, if weather permits, is the ice sculpture competition.

The fire part of the festival begins on Jan. 16 at 4:30 p.m. with a fireworks train ride on the Nevada Northern Railway where the big bangs will be set off from a moving steam train, and those riding the train will have a front row seat to the action. After the show concludes, participants will head back for an art sculpture bonfire where attendees can appreciate local works of art while keeping cozy around the fire.

“We have double the budget for fireworks this year,” Horvath said. “They are going to be even more impressive this year.”

On Sunday, Fire & Ice will come to a close, the ending of the three-day long festival marked by a second fireworks display, this time set off downtown. Safety measures will be in place and the festival will look a bit different this year to honor the current public health climate. Both fireworks displays are also said to be upgraded for the 2021 event, according to a press release.

Additional events are expected to be confirmed prior to the start of the festival. If you are interested in hosting an event or tournament, contact the White Pine County Tourism and Recreation Board at (775) 289-3720 or [email protected].

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