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Experience state parks during Winterfest

LINCOLN – Winterfest is officially underway. Now through April, state parks across Nebraska are celebrating the season through more than a dozen festive public events and special seasonal offerings.

During Winterfest’s Christmas-themed events, guests can sit for free family portraits, enjoy holiday dinners and live theater, and participate in crafts, horse-drawn park tours, educational programs and more.

Among the activities slated for this winter:

— Christmas in the Woods, Dec. 10 and 17, Ponca State Park, where guests can bake festive Christmas treats, take a holiday family portrait and enjoy a guided hike or lighted hayrack ride;

— Christmas Bird Count, Dec. 14-Jan. 5, Indian Cave State Park, where guests can aid scientists and conservation efforts by helping identify as many bird species as possible while enjoying the beauty of one of Nebraska’s most scenic parks;

— First Day Hikes, Jan. 1, various parks, where visitors can start the year off right with a guided hike through some of Nebraska’s most beautiful landscapes. These annual hikes are popular with park visitors and staff alike.

Other Winterfest activities include birdwatching, ice skating, archery and more. Complete details on these and other holiday events are available at OutdoorNebraska.gov/Winterfest.

A park permit is required for each vehicle entering the park. Guests can also receive 30 percent off of a cabin or lodge room now through April. Some restrictions apply. Make reservations online at OutdoorNebraska.org or by calling 402-471-1414.