Some parts of the country seem to almost shut down as soon as the temperatures drop below freezing. That’s not how things work here in Minnesota! When the mercury starts to drop, things begin to heat up around here. If you’re wondering exactly what there is to do in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, we’ve got a list of intriguing—and thoroughly Minnesotan—activities for you to consider. Here’s a look at some of the best winter/holiday events in Minneapolis for 2019 and into 2020.
Thursdays-Sundays, November 29th-December 22nd, 2019
Thursdays from 5:00-9:00pm | Fridays from 5:00–10:00pm |
Saturdays from 11:00am–10:00pm | Sundays from 11:00am–7:00pm
Downtown Minneapolis’ premier (and free!) holiday celebration, Holidazzle has delighted residents and visitors for years. Enjoy food, drinks, holiday shopping and activities for all ages! A skating rink (open daily), dedicated movie nights, firework displays, interactive art installments, and even Santa Claus are just a few *holidazzling* activities waiting for you. Click here for more information, including a full schedule.
Luminary Loppet: A Celebration of Winter in Minnesota
February 1st, 2020
Lake of the Isles
Light up the Great Northern lights at this great event! This annual winter tradition returns with a slew of extraordinary frozen features including the famous illuminated arctic puppets, an ice concert, and so much more. Walk, snowshoe or ski along candlelit trails on frozen Lake of the Isles – with plenty of hot cocoa stops along the way – right in the heart of Uptown! Find more information at the Loppet Foundation website.
Winter Solstice Celebration
December 20th, 2019
American Swedish Institute
Mark the Winter Solstice at The American Swedish Institute (ASI), a moment when the earth’s tilt causes the shortest day and longest night of the year. Celebrate this seasonal juncture with fun, festivities, and performances during extended hours. The FIKA Café will serve a special festival menu with small plates and warm glögg (Swedish mulled wine) and the ASI Museum Store and Jul Shop will also be open late for all of your last-minute gift needs! Pre-registration required. For more information visit the ASI Website.
The Great Northern
January 23rd-February 2nd, 2020
Times and Locations Vary
Check out the schedule of events
The Great Northern is a showcase of The North at its wintry best. You can enjoy 10 days of events and programming across Minneapolis and Saint Paul. This is a new, annual tradition that promotes year-round outdoor activity and provides fun and accessible programming for locals and visitors of all ages. Have fun at the City of Lakes Loppet Ski Festival, the 130-year-old Saint Paul Winter Carnival, and the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships among other major events! Visit the Great Northern website for updated information.
11th Annual Winter Beer Dabbler
February 22, 2020
Minnesota State Fairgrounds
Anyone can drink beer in the comfort of their home or on the deck in the summer. True Minnesotans celebrate outside in the middle of winter! For over ten years, hardy Midwesterners have left behind the warmth of their homes to join us for the Winter Beer Dabbler, the biggest outdoor beer festival in Minnesota. With unlimited samples of the nation's best craft beer, great live music, and fun activities, the Winter Beer Dabbler is a true celebration of winter in Minnesota. Enjoy the offerings from more than 180 breweries and cideries, along with meat and cheeses from 20+ producers. There’s even live music, a silent disco, and more entertainment. Visit the Festival website for tickets and other information.
The St. Paul Winter Carnival
January 23-February 2, 2020
Downtown Saint Paul, near Rice Park and Landmark Center, and at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.
Originating in 1886, The St. Paul Winter Carnival (the oldest winter festival in the United States) attracts more than 250,000 visitors each year, with events such as the Grand Day Parade, Autonomous (robots!) Snowplow Competition, Outdoor Beer Dabbler Festival (see above), Dogsled Race, Kids’ Day, Snow Sculpting, Ice Sculpture Carving and all other manner of cold weather-embracing merriment. Running from late January to early February each year, events are mostly staged around Rice Park in downtown St. Paul and the Minnesota State Fair Grounds. Many activities are free or low-cost. Check the St. Paul Winter Carnival official site for annual information and dates. If you don’t get your fill of wintery frivolity during the Carnival itself, check out this site that offers additional activities you can enjoy near the St. Paul Winter Carnival!
Lake Harriet Kit Festival
January 25, 2020
Lake Harriet Park- 4135 W Lake Harriet Parkway
Minneapolis, MN 55409
It’s not an insult when someone tells you to “go fly a kite” in the middle of a Minnesota winter. It’s probably an invitation! You can view kites of all shapes, sizes, colors, and themes as they fly over frozen Lake Harriet. Other fun family activities at the festival include ice fishing, fat bike riding, snowshoeing, and a marshmallow roast! This year will also feature special Art Shanty Projects! You don’t just have to watch, either! You can bring your own kite or buy an inexpensive one at the lake. The festival is not just about kites, either! Tips Outdoors will teach kids ice fishing skills and safety tips. Equipment and permits for children will be provided. Minneapolis Park Board naturalists will also be on-site with snowshoes and you can try out fat bike riding in the snow! There will even be a heated tent with entertainment! Check out their website for photos and more information! This event is free and is open to the public.
Why Hibernate When You Can Celebrate?
Winter activities are just one more reason the Minneapolis/St. Paul area is such a great place to live. These events simply prove what everybody already knows: Minnesotans don’t hibernate in the winter—they celebrate!