Yes, it's cold. Suck it up--there's much fun to be had out there this month.
St. PaulWells Fargo WinterSkate in Rice Park
Daily through Jan. 31; check the website for hours and weather cancellations
Enjoy one of winter’s most charming rituals in one of the Twin Cities’ most charming locations. Ice skate rental available for $2 on a first-come, first-served basis.
Split Rock Lighthouse Centennial Kickoff
2010 marks 100 years for the venerable Split Rock Lighthouse, and a celebration opens a year of events for this lovely North Shore landmark.
Winter Kite Festival
Jan. 9 (or Jan. 16, if weather/ice aren’t favorable on the 10th)
The Minnesota Kite Society struts its stuff at this annual tradition on Lake Harriet. Beautiful, elaborate kites are flown, but newbies can get tips from the experts and buy inexpensive kits on the spot. Or bring your own. Or just watch the others while enjoying toasted marshmallows and ice-fishing demos.
FYI, I attended the Kite Festival last year, and can tell you--it's great fun. Bundle up and enjoy.
The Coldest Days on the Farm
Roll your eyes when Grampa starts talking about the waist-high drifts of snow he had to wade through to get to the barn? See what it was really like at the Oliver H. Kelley Farm. You’ll get a chance to clear fields, chop wood, feed animals. Lucky for you, there will also be a bonfire and treats. Dress warmly.
It was Icebox Days, then it was Blast on the Border, and now it’s—Icebox Days. Whatever you call it, the good people up on the Canadian border show that they have extreme stamina for the cold with this festival, including the “Freeze Yer Gizzard Blizzard” 5k and 10k runs, snow creations, poker, bridge, and darts tournaments, a chili cook-off, snowmobile races, and lighted snowshoe hikes in Voyageurs National Park.
Dogsled rides, games of snow snake, snowshoeing, curling, and hot cocoa by a warm fire at the North West Company Fur Post.
Brrrrmidji Polar Daze
Broomball, sled derbies, jumping in the lake (definitely not for the faint of heart), a 5k run/walk, even a lighted night trail cross-country ski race. Oh, and lots and lots of food.St. Paul
St. Paul Winter Carnival
Take that, you stupid New York reporters of the late 1800’s; Minnesota is not “another Siberia, unfit for human habitation in the winter.” And with that, a cherished annual festival was created. Coronations, ice-carving contests, snow-block building, snow sculptures, a lavish torchlight parade, hockey tournaments, a 5k and half-marathon, maybe even snow soccer. Don’t be a wimp.
Frozen River Film Festival
Independent and foreign films abound in this annual festival. This year’s theme is Food—who could resist that? Besides an extensive film list, enjoy live music performances and programs lead by leading environmentalists and locavores.
Robert Burns’ Night Dinner
The Duluth Scottish Heritage Association sponsors this annual event, this year falling on the 250th anniversary of the Scottish poet’s birth. Dinner, poetic revelry, traditional music and dancing. No mention of whether or not haggis is on the menu. Reservations required.
Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza
The prize? $150k. The goal? The biggest fish. The best part? Proceeds go to charity, this year to the Confidence Learning Center. Oh—and no, they don’t sell beer on the ice. Just so you know. There’s also a Youth Ice Olympics that day.MinneapolisRock the Cradle
Indoctrinate those young’uns early in life by bringing them to MPR’s annual music festival, held at the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts and the Children’s Theatre. Live music, baby yoga, dancing, an instrument petting zoo, even a story hour for adults with DJ’s from MPR’s The Current. The event starts at 11 a.m.; plan to arrive early—last year, more than 13,000 people attended.
John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon
Jan. 29-Feb. 4
The 27th running of this race commemorates, as always, the life of John Beargrease, Chippewa native who delivered mail by dog sled along the frozen North Shore in the late 1800s. It’s the longest race in the lower 48, and acts as a qualifying run for Alaska’s Iditarod. Several days of events surround the actual race, which takes place on Jan. 31.