Things settle down after the holidays, but only slightly. Minnesotans tend to celebrate winter. You know how it is--if you can't fight it...
Wells Fargo WinterSkate in Rice Park
Daily through Feb. 5; 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 (free for Wells Fargo customers).
Dogsled rides, games of snow snake, snowshoeing, curling, and hot cocoa by a warm fire at the North West Company Fur Post.
Winter Kite Festival
Jan. 14 (or Jan. 21, if weather/ice aren’t favorable on the 14th)
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.
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.
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.
Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza
Jan. 21The prizes? $150k worth, including a truck and an ATV. The goal? The biggest fish. The best part? Proceeds go to more than 50 local charities, with this year’s primary charity 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.
Frozen River Film Festival
Independent and foreign films abound in this annual festival. Besides an extensive film list, enjoy live music performances and programs lead by leading environmentalists and locavores.
St. Paul Winter Carnival
Jan. 26-Feb. 5
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.
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.
John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon
Jan. 27-Feb. 2
The 29th 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 starts on Jan. 29.