Find Frosty Fun at These Minnesota Winter Festivals
By Erica Wacker
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We don't hide from winter weather in Minnesota; we celebrate it at festivals by engaging in everything from frozen turkey bowling to ice bar tippling to golfing on ice! So bundle up, grab your family and friends, and check out the many ways to play at winter festivals around the state.
IceBox Days, International Falls
IceBox Days is known for its crazy games and wacky activities such as frozen turkey bowling, the infamous Gizzard runs and locally invented smoosh racing, garnering a lot of national attention over the years.
Hygge Festival, Grand Marais
Hygge (the Danish ritual of embracing life’s simple pleasures) is especially meaningful in wintertime. This annual Hygge Festival lets you enjoy cozy surroundings, the warmth of family and friends, and fun activities such as fondue nights, cozy couple dinners, bonfires, talented musicians, dog sled tours, snowshoe hikes and much more.
Ely Winter Festival
The 10-day Ely Winter Festival and Art Walk is a celebration of the unique culture, art, history and traditions of this north woods town adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Main attractions include the snow sculpting competition and artwork on display throughout downtown.
Back to Hack, Hackensack
Back to Hack celebrates winter with quirky events and festivities including the Frostbite Your Fanny 5K race, family fishing contest, penguin plunge, fireworks on Birch Lake, frozen pancake toss and other kids games.
Polar Fest, Detroit Lakes
The main attraction at Polar Fest is the ice palace made of ice from Detroit Lake. The public can watch the harvest and construction of the palace, and the festival culminates with ice golf, skiing, a fishing derby, hot dish challenge and much more.
Ice Fest, Thief River Falls
Ice Fest celebrates winter with dog sled rides, fat biking, 5K and 10K races, hockey games and much more.
Ice Fest, Breezy Point
Ice Fest delivers a myriad of activities on ice such as pond hockey, ice fishing, curling, snow golf, bag toss games and dancing to live music under a tent on the ice. Off the ice, take horse-drawn hay rides, ski by candlelight and warm by a bonfire. Area pubs and restaurants offer special deals and discounts.
Find old-fashioned family fun including pond hockey and bocce ball tournaments, kids games, a pancake breakfast and even helicopter rides at the annual WinterFest in Crosslake. Additional festivities include horse-drawn sleigh rides, a bonfire and s'mores, and a medallion hunt.
Otter Tail Co - On Ice!, Ottertail
Embrace winter with abundant events and entertainment at Otter Tail Co. - On Ice! The whole family will delight in dog sledding demonstrations, ice fishing, snowmobile trail rides, a curling bonspiel, numerous live music acts and much more. Set up your ice house on Otter Tail Lake for a fun-filled weekend.
Winter Jubilee, Nisswa
Winter Jubilee activities include snow sculpture building, the Jubilee Parade, a wood-splitting contest, smoosh racing, medallion hunt, live music, dancing and an ice fishing contest on Nisswa Lake.
Minneapolis-St. Paul Area
Saint Paul Winter Carnival
Part of The Great Northern, which also encompasses the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships and City of Lakes Loppet ski festival, Winter Carnival has been a capital city tradition since 1886. Thousands of revelers come to downtown St. Paul for events including ice sculpture carving, a winter run, snowplow competition, parades and fireworks. There's also an outdoor beer festival, snow sculpting competition and snow-centric activities for kids at the State Fairgrounds.
Chilly Open, Wayzata
Minnesota golf in February? You betcha! Imagine three 9-hole courses plowed out on Lake Minnetonka and over 1,700 golfers with their hockey sticks and golf clubs hitting and putting tennis balls. Players and onlookers will also enjoy free food, snowga (yoga), snowkiting (kite skiing), dog sled rides and the 19th hole tent.
Ham Lake Snowbowl
Snowbowl is an outdoor party showcasing a variety of fun winter activities such as snow sculpting, ice fishing, sledding, broomball, and snowmobile and fat tire bike races. A vendor expo, craft fair, food and refreshments, medallion hunt and contests are also part of the fun.
Shiver Elk River
While the breathtaking Shiver Plunge is the highlight of Shiver Elk River, there are many other fun outdoor events including an outdoor hockey tournament, 5K and 10K run/walk, bean bag tournament, medallion hunt, special family activities, as well as live music, craft beer garden and bingo.
Bock Fest , New Ulm
Beckon warmer weather at Bock Fest with a mug full of Bock beer, live music, hot brats and bonfires. Seven Bocks of Winter are hiding around the Schell's Brewery grounds, waiting to be found. Human St. Bernards, with kegs of beer on their backs, are ready to assist weary hunters.
Bold & Cold, Owatonna
Be bold and embrace “cold noses and warm hearts” during the week-long Bold & Cold celebration. Highlights include a medallion hunt, ice fishing, candlelight skiing, fat tire bike races, snow sculpture competitions and more.
Winterfest, St. Peter
This fun-filled festival includes a Winterfest opening ceremony party, free hot chocolate and s'mores, medallion hunts, a polar plunge, hairy legs competition, poker walk, Commander's Chilifest and a winter demolition derby.
Sleigh & Cutter Festival, Waseca
The Sleigh & Cutter Parade is the highlight of this festival, featuring various breeds of horses pulling animal-powered sleighs. Other activities include snowmobile drag races, live music, dancing, ice-tundra golf, cross-country skiing, medallion hunt and a family movie night.
Downtown Rochester's premier winter festival, SocialICE lets you experience uniquely designed and themed ice bars, each with signature drinks, as well as full-scale ice sculptures illuminated with special lighting effects and live DJ entertainment nightly.
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