Cold Comfort

Many of us latter-day Arizona settlers fled the northeast precisely because we found the words "winter" and "fest" don't go together well. But for those who are nostalgic for biting cold, punishing winds and treacherous snow, Flagstaff Winterfest is here again. The 14th annual chill-out to the north kicks off with a "Special Early Opening Weekend" on Saturday, January 29, and Sunday, January 30. Featured are such events as Sled Dog Racing, a "Mountain Sports Cup" and information on wintertime pet care.

The fest proper begins on Tuesday, February 1. Promised, once again, are "sled-dog races, Nordic and Alpine skiing competitions, snowboard and snowshoe activities, snowmobile drag racing, stargazing, special children's events, an ice skating show, concerts, cultural events, and winter workshops and lectures."

Here's the schedule through Wednesday, February 2:

Saturday, January 29; and Sunday, January 30:

Winterfest Sled Dog Races are slated from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days, in the Crowley Parking Area on Highway 180. More than 60 teams are to race.

As part of Flagstaff's Month of the Animals, a pet information booth at the Crowley Parking Area will offer pointers, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days, on keeping animals safe and comfortable during the winter months.

The Arizona Snowbowl, also on Highway 180, hosts the two-day Mountain Sports Cup from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. The event features Alpine, snowboard and telemark racing.

Tuesday, February 1:

A Ladies Cross-Country Clinic is held from noon to 1 p.m. at the Flagstaff Nordic Center, on Highway 180.

Wednesday, February 2:

The "PSIA Cross-Country Ski Clinic," an intensive two-day workshop open to enthusiasts at all skill levels, is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Nordic Center (it continues during the same hours on Thursday, February 3).

The Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra, with guest marimbist Makoto Nakura, performs at 7:30 p.m. at Ardrey Auditorium.

The monthlong party continues through Tuesday, February 29, at various venues around Flag. For a full schedule, contact the Flagstaff Visitor Center at 1-800-842-7293.