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Sauna Days 2024: pretty much all of us were comfortably numb

light steam graphic

As we look back upon Sauna Days 2024, walking from one sauna to the next, pretty much all of us were comfortably numb.

About 200 guest converged for the fourth Sauna Days event at Larsmont Cottages, North of Duluth, Minnesota, this past weekend. Some came from near, and many came from far. All were able to enjoy the multitude of saunas, speakers, nature, and locally crafted food, beverages, and live entertainment.

Hydration to the rescue with Grant, Assistant General Manager

The recipe for a comfortably numb sauna gathering is much like a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe. We don’t need too many ingredients to make something scrumptious.

The foundation for Sauna Days 2024 was 12 mobile saunas and one lämpömassa enriched brick and mortar sauna. Then, sprinkle in various food tents, strategically located hydration stations. Add a pinch of LMNT hydration packets (flavors of choice) and a curation of interesting speakers. Finally, as icing on the cake, infinity cold plunge access into the world’s largest freshwater lake.

Sauna Days group cold plunge with Robbie’s son Wrigley overlooking the natural cold plunge (photo: Darin Mays, Urban Wing, maker of transparent North Ups).

Familiar faces

A good number of the 200 plus Sauna Days 2024 attendees were repeat vendors and offenders. Familiar faces helped foster countless spontaneous re-connections either on the bench, by one of fire pits, at the bar, on the rocks, or in the lake. “So great to see you again!” And they meant it. “Is this your second or third Sauna Days?”

The spontaneous gatherings were akin to traveling from stage to stage at an outdoor music festival. Then, bumping into familar faces from year’s past. And, like attending a music festival with great bands and few yahoos, at Sauna Days, everyone knew the lyrics. Songs include: keep sandals outside the saunas, help fill up the löyly buckets, ask who is ready for steam before throwing water on the rocks, and by all means, close the sauna door.

Talking good heat starts with “close the door” declares the Sauna Techs, Ben (left) and Kirk (right)

Far and wide

As sauna becomes more popular, Sauna Days continues to draw people from places beyond the Great Lakes sauna belt region. I found myself on the bench with a couple who came all the way from the Yukon Territory. Other Canadians included Kyle Wilson, Homecraft Saunas, and his wife from Vancouver BC. We had guests from Salt Lake City, Oregon, Northern and Southern California, Florida. And yet none of these participants received the Furthest Traveled Award. That accolade was awarded to Jake Newport from Finnmark saunas. A close second went to Mika & Wendy from the British Sauna Society. The three represented the UK well, proucly wearing their signature British Blue robes as sauna uniforms.

Wendy Liu & Mika Mika Meskanen, British Sauna Society promoting American style cheeseburgers, potato chips, and potato salad
Sauna Talk aboard the Viking Floating Sauna with Wendy, Mika and David

Speaker’s corner

The Brits added some great flavor to the Sauna Days speaker series. Jake Newport shared a slide of a map of Great Britain, showing 100 dots around the British coastline, representing the number of mobile sauna activations there. “Pretty much every beach around the coastline now has a public sauna.” We breathed along with Nick Fox, Learned about Sauna and Sobriety, gleaned insight into the future and scale of Therme Group’s wellbeing oasis’s (bigger than Yankee Stadium!) with President Robbie Hammond.

Megan Kress presenting, with confused male species on cell phone in background
Robbie Hammond, show of hands for how many dig Sauna Days

The Steam Masters

Many were quietly sharing that a highlight experience for Sauna Days 2024 was getting wacked around by one of the three Steam Masters. The three administered venik treatments in either the Steam Lodge or Deep Wave Sauna’s Black Night sauna. We were blessed to have three steam masters lead rounds of venik treatments. Dan from The Banya House, California Alex, and B Alex from BSaunas in Buffalo, NY.

Steam master treatment

In addition to Sauna Days being the first weekend of May, the Steam Masters introduced us to a sister event first weekend of October: Banya Fest at a stately church camp just outside Minneapolis/St. Paul. A highlight of the weekend was learning more about the ancient practice of Eastern European banya and venik treatments, documented as a Sauna Days presentation and a soon to be released Sauna Talk podcast.

Alex, Steam Master, soothing a guest with Balsam Fir veniks during cool down
The Steam Masters between sessions in The Steam Lodge (all rights reserved).

Sauna in nature

As wonderful as it was to experience multiple saunas scattered throughout the grounds at Larsmont Cottages, once again, nature seems to provide us with the best amenity. Larsmont Cottages is set along the shores of Lake Superior. Sauna Days guests were treated to rosy red skyline sunsets, night skies bursting with stars, and even a Hawaii-esque rainbow, as we celebrated a passing shower in the later afternoon sun.

Sauna Days 2024. From left: North Up, Steam Lodge, Brick & Mortar, Superior, and North Shore sauna tents

Northern Minnesota sauna is always enjoyed in nature. Sauna in nature is bigger than all of us. And no bigger than within Sauna Days 2024 at Larsmont Cottages, Two Harbors, Minnesota.

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