The Super Bowl’s Biggest Events
Once-in-a-lifetime experiences and more at Super Bowl LII
The Super Bowl’s Big 3
Rendering of the Walk-in snow globe at Super Bowl LIVE
photo courtesy Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee
Super Bowl Live 1/26–2/4
NFL jerseys encased inside huge ice sculptures will rise up like the ghosts of football’s past; NBC and ESPN commentators will buzz about their IDS Center hive; and music’s biggest players will trade shifts—all on Nicollet Mall, when six blocks of the reopened downtown stretch transform into a frozen entertainment hot spot. Befitting our “Bold North” stamp on the game (a riff on Minnesota’s bid to dub our region “North” instead of “Midwest”), colorful, sky-searching lights will imitate the Aurora Borealis, and a giant football-shaped walk-in snow globe will bait selfie takers. One state hallmark, and national treasure, we’ll have to go without, though. Prince’s halftime performance during the 2007 Miami Super Bowl—when a downpour tried to interrupt “Purple Rain” and prompted a producer to ask if the singer was OK, to which he responded, “Can you make it rain harder?”—was arguably the best the sport has seen. The late paisley Jack of Spades can’t attend the big home game, but his passing has inspired early collaborators and storied local producers Jimmy “Jam” Harris and Terry Lewis to reflect on what they’d like to accomplish before they go—and it involves bumping the spotlight onto more Minnesota talent. For all of the 10 days that Nicollet Mall hosts Super Bowl Live, the duo will curate a concert series of homegrown artists braving the weather alongside national names. In the ’80s, the pair helped shuffle the Minneapolis Sound into the Top 40 and clothed Janet Jackson in her synth-pop trappings (way before her over-publicized wardrobe malfunction bungled Justin Timberlake’s first halftime attempt in 2004). As former members of the pioneering Minneapolis funk band The Time, Harris and Lewis are the ambassadors the city deserves. Show up purple on January 29 for a set devoted wholly to Prince.
Former Viking Randall McDaniel (holding chicken) with Revival’s Nick Rancone and Thomas Boemer
photo courtesy taste of the nfl
Taste of the NFL 2/3
For more than 25 years, celebrity chefs have played the Odd Couple with NFL players at the Super Bowl’s biggest charity party: a stroll-while-stuffing-yourself feast across more than 35 food stations, where one restaurateur per NFL-team city buddies up with a home-team player to entertain grazers’ star-struck mingling and autograph-pushing and high-end sampling. Florida paired its Miami Dolphin with clam chowder last year, for example, and the Vikings most recently highlighted Minneapolis’ fried chicken from Revival and pork jowl from Corner Table. This year, inside a security-gridlocked St. Paul Rivercentre, the event goes back to where it all began—because Taste of the NFL actually debuted in Minneapolis, when the city first hosted in 1992. The Minnesota Restaurant Association didn’t have to push the idea too hard; noshing indoors just made sense as one of the few activities out-of-staters would want to do mid-winter. The event’s tagline, “Party with a Purpose,” reminds $700-ticket holders that hobnobbing is just half of it. Some of the proceeds go to food banks in the NFL’s 32 participating cities.
Justin Timberlake will perform the Super Bowl LII Halftime show
Photo by Tom Munro / RCA Records
Super Bowl LII 2/4
Consider that only five northern cities have hosted the Super Bowl in its 52 years. Minneapolis is the first of them to do it twice, after the Metrodome’s ’92 hurrah. Tickets this year go for $4,000–$14,000. Package deals advertise the massive Players Tailgate, held on a specially built pavilion a few blocks from U.S. Bank Stadium—where Guy Fieri will no doubt go sticking his beringed fingers in celebrities’ sloppy joes as per usual—along with concerts sprinkled throughout the metro, sweetened with a chance to step onto the field at game’s end for that uniquely electrifying, confetti’d atmosphere (given you’re willing to upgrade to a “platinum” experience by padding out your $8,000 ticket a mere $5,000 more). Locals not going to the game might feel inconvenienced (having to rely on an extra phalanx of city buses on Super Bowl Sunday, for example, since the light rail will exclusively shuttle the stadium bound; and homeless people downtown forced to relocate to a different shelter). The free auxiliary festivals on Nicollet Mall and at the Convention Center hope to assuage. After all: Who knows if the Cities will ever again become this congested, feverishly snow globe–shaken Land of 1 Justin Timberlake?
More Bowl Week Events
Illuminate South Loop 2/1–3
“Creative placemaking” puts public art in neglected urban spaces to make them more livable. For the Super Bowl, local arts organization Northern Lights brings that philosophy from the Cities to the south suburbs: Bloomington Central Park will light up with interactive installations and participatory performances by artists from Minnesota and abroad—alongside bonfires and locally sourced catering, all just off the Blue Line.
The Dave Matthews Band will headline at the Night Before Concert
photo courtesy dave matthews band
The Night Before Concert And Super Saturday Night 2/3
The night before the Super Bowl has come to mean a pre-halftime blowout featuring music’s brightest. Last year, it was Taylor Swift. This year, ’90s alternative rockers the Dave Matthews Band takes the Xcel Energy Center, having just toured their folk-/pop-/funk-rock sound for their 25th anniversary—which happens to be just about as long as we’ve been graced with pop goddess Jennifer Lopez, too, who takes the Minneapolis Armory with a rival concert likely to provide a little more sparkle, as we’ve come to expect this time of year.
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon 2/4
Like a modern iteration of original Tonight Show host Johnny Carson’s bromance with carousing crooner Dean Martin, Jimmy Fallon’s friendship with Justin Timberlake packs so much Rat Pack heat that if they cross paths in Minneapolis—with Fallon staging his late-night show at Orpheum Theatre after the game—they’ll no doubt, once again, set social media on fire.
Super Bowl Experience Driven by Genesis 1/27–2/3
People realizing, in-person, that the Vince Lombardi Trophy is hollow. Kids (and uninitiated adults) learning to put spin in their throws. Visitors of all ages taking up the Minneapolis Convention Center on its free, petting zoo–esque autograph-signing sessions with more than 50 NFL stars. These are the scenes that’ll make up the Super Bowl Experience Driven by Genesis. Conceived during Minneapolis’ first hosting gig 26 years ago, it’s a family-friendly safe space away from the droves of high-rollers scrimmaging most other events.
The Great Northern 1/26–2/4
Drawing tourists in February, the state has had to market itself as a winter wonderland—hard. The Great Northern combines the yearly U.S. Pond Hockey Championships, the City of Lakes Loppet Ski Festival, and the St. Paul Winter Carnival—because nothing says winter like the Olympics of backyard puck-smacking; a luminary-lit cross-country ski sesh across Minneapolis’ frozen lakes; and an ice-sculpting, beer-dabbling, slide-descending day in the capital’s Rice Park.