Jan 26, 2023 - Things to Do

St. Paul Winter Carnival guide: Our picks for 2023's best events

Downtown St. Paul as seen from above at night.

RIce Park lights up for the St. Paul Winter Carnival. Photo: Darrin Johnson, courtesy of St. Paul Winter Carnival

It's that time of year again — the St. Paul Winter Carnival kicks off its 137th year on Thursday with a jam-packed schedule of new and exciting events.

Why it matters: We're Minnesotans! It can be tough to persevere through the long, dark and snowy winter, but fun seasonal activities remind us why we stick around.

Catch up fast: The carnival, which began in 1886 after East Coast reporters allegedly called Minnesota "unfit for human habitation," has become a 10-day St. Paul staple celebrating all things winter.

  • It's held in collaboration with The Great Northern, an arts-focused festival that hosts panels on climate change, live performances, art installations and more from Jan. 25 to Feb. 5.

Details: The Carnival's calendar of events has something for everyone, but here's what to watch:

🤸 For the adventurous

The St. Paul Bouncing Team, an aerial acrobatics group that performs stunts year-round, is holding open tryouts to be the next "Bouncing Girl" or "puller" at Landmark Center. If you're not that flexible, spectators are welcome. Feb. 3.

🚁 For an upscale date night

New American restaurant Holman's Table is now offering dinner and a ride in a helicopter. The $250 price tag includes a 7-minute spin over St. Paul and meals for two at the restaurant. Jan. 26-28; Feb. 2-4.

❄️ Outdoor fun for all ages

The Minnesota State Fairgrounds is temporarily the Vulcan Snow Park, a kid-friendly play zone with snow mazes, giant sculptures, a kids treasure hunt and more. Jan. 27-Feb. 5.

🔎 For the explorer

Explore St. Paul by competing in one of the carnival's scavenger hunts. There are options for all skill levels, including a small hunt for kids and a 30-clue trek across the city.

  • If the thrill isn’t enough of a draw, there’s a $500 grand prize for each hunt. $20 per team to sign up. Jan. 28-Feb. 6

☀️ For the classic carnival experience

The carnival's biggest events are based on its legend — King Boreas declares St. Paul his winter capital every year, until god of fire Vulcanus Rex steps in.

  • The carnival's final day starts with a royal parade through downtown and ends with a dramatic fight between Boreas and Rex to bring summer back to St. Paul. Fireworks to follow. Feb. 4.

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