Jan 28, 2021 - News
The Twin Cities' wintertime boom
Illustration of Minneapolis and St. Paul in snow globes, with animated snow falling on them.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

More signs are emerging that Minnesotans are going all in on all things winter.

Driving the trend: While residents of the "Bold North" have a long tradition of braving the frigid temps, COVID-19 is pushing us outdoors even more.

  • Many breweries and restaurants have invested in heat lamps, fire pits and tents to keep service flowing amid restrictions on indoor dining.
  • Utepils Brewing, a stone's throw from Theodore Wirth Park, has seen lines of 90 minutes for outdoor seating on the weekends.
  • "We call it the fresh-air, warm-hands, cold-beer lifestyle," brewery president Dan Justesen told us.

A few more indications:

What they're saying: Winter booster Eric Dayton, once dubbed the state's "king of cold," said that pandemic-induced limitations on activity have expanded what we're willing to do outdoors.

  • "We're all getting creative this year looking for ways to take care of ourselves and hopefully find moments of fun, moments of community," said Dayton, a businessman and founder of the Great Northern Festival — now underway.
  • "One of the silver linings [of the pandemic] that I hope does stick is a shift in culture around the outdoors and around winter."

The big picture: Minnesota is no longer the only state leaning into its local climate. More cold-weather cities are following the lead of our Scandinavian counterparts in embracing the idea of "winter placemaking" amid the pandemic, as Axios Cities' Jennifer A. Kingson reported.

What's next: Three of Minnesota's marquee seasonal events — the St. Paul Winter Carnival, City of Lakes Loppet Winter Festival and Great Northern — begin today, delivering another test of our willingness to engage in cold-weather programming.

  • Some restaurants and breweries, meanwhile, are already considering bringing back their outdoor winter setups next year — even if pandemic limits are lifted.
  • "I think people have discovered it's fun to be outside and drink beer," Justesen said. "Especially when they can have a fire."

This story first appeared in the Axios Twin Cities newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

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