Not just ‘waiting to worship a rat’
“Pitiful, a thousand people freezing their butts off waiting to worship a rat," says Bill Murray’s character Phil Connors in that cult classic Groundhog Day, adding, "Groundhog Day used to mean something in this town. They used to pull the hog out and they used to eat it.” Well it still does mean something, Phil, but not eating to some 40,000 people who come to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania each year on February 2. The United State’s largest Groundhog Day celebrations have been going strong since 1886 and centre on a groundhog (yes, a rodent) predicting an early spring or longer winter at sunrise at Gobbler’s Knob.
The seasonal prognosticator of Groundhog Day’s name is a 100+ year-old groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil, who if emerging from his burrow on this day sees his shadow and retreats means that winter will endure for six more weeks. If he doesn’t, it means an early spring. Aside from watching this ultimate display of weather forecasting (we hear Phil is about 80% accurate), head to Punxsutawney’s best annual event for some good, old-fashioned country fun including chainsaw carving, best dressed comps (including for dogs), the crowning of Mr and Mrs Groundhog, groundhog bingo, walking tours, scavenger hunts, wine tasting, top hat decorating, Amish quilt auctioning (!), show riding, town feasting and dancing and more! Ask how Universal Traveller can get you to Groundhog Day!
When is it?
Tips and tricks
Book flights and accommodation for Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania in advance and avoid missing out or paying higher prices.
In addition to the “Bill Murray stepped here” plaque, lovers of the film can visit many of the sites including the B&B they stayed at (Cherry Street Inn) and the piano teacher’s house, both on Madison Street.
If you haven’t already guessed, it’s winter around this time so dress for snow or cooler.
Phil makes his prediction at Gobbler’s Knob, about 3km east from town, at sunrise. Book your transfer there in advance if you don’t fancy an early morning walk.
Groundhog Day is also celebrated across Pennsylvania as well as in Ortario, Nova Scotia and Irving, Texas.
Punxsutawney is about a one-and-a-half bus or car ride from Pittsburgh.