Wells Fargo WinterSkate in Rice Park
Daily through Feb. 3; 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).
St. Paul Winter Carnival
Now through Feb. 3
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, maybe even snow soccer. Don’t be a wimp.
Now through Feb. 10
Spicer (just outside of Willmar) takes its winter festival very seriously. Three packed weeks of bonfires, snowmobile runs, fish fries, fishing tournaments, Frozen 5K, Polar Plunge, and fireworks.
If you can’t find something to do at this festival, you’re a curmudgeon indeed. Learn how to sculpt snow, take a dog sled ride, attend a dance, enjoy live music, visit the Dorothy Molter Museum, go snowshoeing or skiing, and attend the Mukluk Ball.
Winter Tracks Festival
View outdoor art, including snow sculptures, and watch hardy artists painting in the elements; take a guided snowshoe hike; take the kids to the family festival; go downhill or cross-country skiing or ice skating; or take in a variety of live entertainment and dining options in the Lutsen area.
Sleigh and Cutter Festival
Waseca celebrates its heritage with some fun old-time activities. A kickball tournament (yes, outdoors), vintage snowmobile ride, old-fashioned ice harvest, a golf tournament, and snowmobile races.
Buena Vista Ski Area celebrates its historic heritage as a logging camp with this one-day festival.
True to its German heritage, New Ulm celebrates Fasching, a German Mardi Gras that occurs before Ash Wednesday. German food, music, dancing, even a Parade of Costumes. Note: Bock Fest http://business.newulm.com/Events/details/bock-fest-02-21-2009-179 takes place the same day.
Victorian Poetry Slam
The James J. Hill House is home to this annual tradition, where costumed actors recite poems by the likes of Poe, Dickinson, and Browning, and conclude with refreshments and a house tour. Reservations recommended.
The Love Tour
Leave the kids at home—this one is for the 21 and older crowd. Because it involves—ahem—mating rituals.
Arguably one of the ugliest fish out there, eelpout serves as the centerpiece for this festival, now in its 30th year. Fish fries, mechanical bull rides, auto race on the lake, dancing, and of course, fishing for eelpout.
Mondo Juggling and Unicyle Festival
Your chance to try juggling or unicycling—or just attend the Spectacular and see what the pros can do—and music and magic too.
A Scottish Ramble
Stop by the Landmark Center and enjoy bagpipes, dancing, shopping, traditional foods, and, of course, kilts.
Sax-Zim Birding Festival
Birders come to the Sax-Zim Bog from all over the world for this annual birding festival in hopes of glimpsing many of the more than 240 species located there.
Tropical Beach Party
If you’ve had about enough of winter, then head out to the Minnesota Zoo over President’s Day weekend. It’s beach time. Yes, really—there’ll be plenty of sand for everyone to play with. Not to mention calypso music.
Missing your summertime golf? Then this is just right for you. Several 9-hole courses set up around Gull Lake, parties with music and food, and a hockey tournament.