Jan 28, 2022 - Things to Do

What to see at St. Paul Winter Carnival and Great Northern Festival

a large palace made out of ice bricks.
The Ice Palace at the 2018 Saint Paul Winter Carnival. Photo: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The cold never bothered us anyway.

What's happening: The St. Paul Winter Carnival and Great Northern Festival are in full swing.

  • A daily schedule of cold-weather programming takes over the Twin Cities through Feb. 6.

Why it matters: The annual festivities are a yearly reminder of Minnesota endurance. It may be 10 degrees outside, but we can still have fun!

How it works: The Carnival is primarily free and open to the public β€” bringing parades, competitions, music and more to downtown St. Paul.

  • The Great Northern hosts cultural events across the Cities and partners with existing festivals, like the Carnival, for a curated, programming-focused experience. Most events require registration.

Background: The Carnival was founded in 1886 after a reporter from New York called the city "another Siberia, unfit for human habitation."

  • It's been held almost every year since then, proving that St. Paul can and will thrive during winter.

Want to check out what's happening at both festivals? Here are our picks for the first weekend's festivities:

πŸ‘‘ For traditions: King Boreas Grande Day Parade.

  • Learn the legends behind the Carnival and cheer for newly crowned King Boreas and the Royal Family at the procession down West 7th St. in St. Paul. Saturday, Jan. 29. Free.

Flash forward: As is tradition, Vulcanus Rex and his Krewe will dramatically attempt to overthrow the King during the Feb. 5 parade.

❄️ For kids: The Vulcan Snow Park at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

  • Slide down snow mountains, run through snow mazes, watch snow sculpting competitions and more at this all-ages event. Daily through Feb. 6. Free.

🌷 For a reminder of spring: Jovan C. Speller & Andy DuCett: Conservatory.

  • This isn't your traditional greenhouse. Wedged in a downtown St. Paul alley, the artist-designed space is filled with hundreds of plants and surrounded by solid ice. Daily through Feb. 6. Free.

🍸 For drinks: Cardamom Ice Bar.

  • The Walker Art Center's restaurant moves outdoors for a winter-inspired speciality cocktail menu, backdropped by a floral-filled ice sculpture. Now through Jan. 30. Free entry, reservations suggested.

🀫 For a unique experience: The Anechoic chamber experience in Orfield Labs.

  • Spend 30 minutes hearing nothing but your heartbeat in "The World's Quietest Place" β€” a room that completely absorbs reflections of sound or electromagnetic waves. Jan. 28, Jan. 31. $60.

πŸ§‡ For exercise: Waffles and Ski.

  • Ski through Theodore Wirth Park and take a mid-trail stop for breakfast by chef Karyn Tomlinson of Myriel. Waffles, hot ham and cheese buns, eggs, coffee and hot chocolate provided. Sunday, Jan. 30. $75.
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