Fun for All! Enjoy 12 Can’t-Miss Winter Events in the Twin Cities
Get ready for nonstop fun and laughter this winter! Throughout the season, the Twin Cities and Minneapolis Northwest host a variety of events ranging from polar plunges to beer festivals to fat biking races. Ready to get merry? Here are 12 ways to celebrate the festive winter season with family and friends.
Saint Paul Winter Carnival
Kellogg Park, Saint Paul, Jan. 24–Feb. 3
- Photo by Kelly K Photography
A Saint Paul tradition since 1886, the Saint Paul Winter Carnival is a 10-day event that celebrates the season with parades, live music, festive gatherings and family friendly competitions. Events take place throughout the city and include 5K races, outdoor movie nights and jalapeño eating contests (yes, you read that correctly). The most popular attraction is the Ice Sculpture Garden in Kellogg Mall Park. You’ll be amazed as local artists transform the snow into dazzling masterpieces like giant ice sculptures, mini frozen cities and whimsical icicle art. Other popular events include the barstool ski races at Vulcan Snow Park, the Pioneer Press Treasure Hunt, Saintly City Cat Show, Family Fun Night and Disco Night.
U.S. Pond Hockey Championships
Lake Nokomis, Minneapolis, Jan. 24–27
In Minnesota, hockey isn’t just a game. It’s a passion. And Minnesotans play it the way nature intended: outside—in the elements—on a frozen lake that was cleared by hand, not machine. If you think you can handle “real” hockey, gather up a team for the 12th annual U.S. Pond Hockey Championships on Lake Nokomis, which draws hockey enthusiasts from across the region and around the world. Choose from a dozen divisions, including Rink Rats, 40+, Women’s and Open Divisions where all levels can compete for a chance to have their name engraved on the coveted Golden Shovel. There are also Youth Night Sessions, a family skating rink and cold brews for sale.
City of Lakes Loppet Ski Festival
Theodore Wirth Parkway, Minneapolis, Jan.31–Feb. 3
The City of Lakes Loppet Ski Festival is a weekend of active wintertime fun. Show off your skills in the heart-pounding ski and fat tire sprints or test your endurance in a cross-country marathon, skijoring competition or dog sled race. Get your friends together for Crew Loppet Skiing – team skiing for a cause, as teams of six compete head-to-head on 25’ long skis! For many visitors, the highlight of the event is the Luminary Loppet. As the sun sets, the luminaries start to sparkle, highlighting attractions like the Ice-Cropolis, Ice-Henge and Ice-ster Island. This year’s event is extra special as it takes place at The Trailhead in Theodore Wirth Park, Minneapolis’ new four-season adventure hub.
Rock What You Got: Twin Cities Women’s Expo
Earle Brown Heritage Center, Brooklyn Center, Jan. 25–26
The snow isn’t the only thing worth celebrating this season. The Twin Cities Women's Expo kicks off the year with a two-day festival focused on all things women empowerment. Vendors will be present to help you pamper yourself from the inside out. Participate in seminars on women’s health and wellness, learn about the latest fashion and beauty trends, enjoy beverage tastings, and connect with people who share your values and vision. This event is geared for the whole family and includes a kids’ play area and a nursing stations for new moms.
Polar Plunge Maple Grove
Fish Lake Regional Park, Maple Grove, Feb. 2
Feeling brave? Then grab your swimsuit and get ready to cool off for a good cause. The Polar Plunge Maple Grove is a fundraiser for the Special Olympics Minnesota. Participants are challenged to collect enough money to entice them to jump feet first into the frozen waters of Fish Lake. If you’d rather stay bundled up, that’s okay – the Polar Plunge is fun to watch, and participants love to have a cheering section! All money raised benefits Special Olympics Minnesota’s health, leadership and athletic programs, which serve more than 8,000 local children.
Wonders of Winter
Central Park, Maple Grove, Feb. 9
If you love snow, s'mores and ice skating, then you’ll love the Wonders of Winter festival at Central Park in Maple Grove. Bundle up for a day of outdoor activities like kicksledding, snowshoeing, horse-drawn wagon ride and ice carvings. There will also be fat bike demonstrations, storytelling, ice skating performances and plenty of hot chocolate and s’mores kits on hand.
Fatbike Frozen Forty
Elm Creek Park Reserve, Champlin, Feb. 9
For more fat biking fun, challenge yourself to one of the Terrene Tires Fatbike Frozen Forty competitions. Choose from the men’s or women’s solo two-, three- or four-lap races, or, if you’re feeling super ambitious, the 100-mile course. This new route, which debuts in 2019, is limited to only ten brave souls and features big prizes for anyone who can finish in less than 12 hours. All participants in all races will receive a sweet swag bag, complimentary food (including hot breakfast burritos), as well as access to the fire pits and a heated tent.
Beer Dabbler Winter Carnival
Minnesota State Fair Grounds, Saint Paul, Feb. 23
Celebrate the winter weather with a brew in hand at the 10th annual Beer Dabbler Winter Carnival. Featuring more than 160 breweries pouring 500+ unique beers, this is the largest outdoor beer festival in Minnesota. And yes, it's in the middle of winter on purpose. The event is designed for only the hardiest of ale aficionados. Your ticket gets you unlimited samples of the best craft beers, a free entry into the homebrew competition, and access to live music and entertainment.
Saint Paul, March 9
You’ve never seen a St. Paddy’s Day celebration like this one! For LuckyPalooza, Saint Paul shuts down two of downtown’s busiest blocks for an all-day street party featuring live music, delicious traditional Irish food and plenty of green beer. You’ll love the entertainment along with extreme winter sports demonstrations, a bull-riding competition and fire dancing. Grab a Guinness and enjoy!
St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Saint Paul, March 16
Downtown Saint Paul goes green again on St. Patrick's Day weekend for the 53rd annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. This daylong event features everything you’d expect from a proper St. Paddy’s celebration, including Irish pipe bands and drummers, tons of green floats, beads and performances by Irish dancers. Multiple clans will be on hand to celebrate, so be sure to wear greens and plaids!
Twin Cities Auto Show
Minneapolis Convention Center, Minneapolis, March 9–17
Love Lamborghinis? Mad about Maseratis? Then don’t miss the 46th Annual Twin Cities Auto Show. This is your chance to see some of the newest and most popular vehicles to hit the market. Test your off-road skills at the show’s Camp Jeep, admire the details of the world’s most luxurious cars at Acceleration Alley and create your dream ride in the Custom Garage. Don’t miss the chance to see what’s in store for the future of cars in the show’s Electric Room, which features some of the greenest vehicles on the planet.
Sneak Peek for Spring!
NCAA Final Four
U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, April 6-8
April’s not technically winter, but it’s not too early to start planning your visit to U.S. Bank Stadium for the NCAA Final Four! This is Minneapolis’ fourth time hosting the iconic men’s basketball championship and they know how to host it. You and the family will enjoy the games and fun basketball-themed events throughout the greater Twin Cities. Minneapolis Northwest is the perfect place to stay if you’re coming into town and looking for affordable rates and free parking. Our hotels will keep you comfortable and courtside.
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More great lists to check out!
Quench Your Thirst: Where to Get a Good Drink in Minneapolis Northwest
Food for Thought: Top 15 Dining Discoveries to Satisfy Your Cravings
Discovering Indoor Fun for the Whole Family in Minneapolis Northwest
Topgolf: Year-round Golfing Comes to Minneapolis Northwest
About the Author
- Minneapolis Northwest CVB
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