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5 Reasons to Visit the St. Paul Winter Carnival


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St. Paul Winter Carnival
In Winter Carnival lore, the Vulcans love summer and are enemies of winter. Their job is to overthrow Boreas, King of the Winds (aka Brutal Cold). They're mysteriously incognito in red suits, capes, goggles, red rooster caps, and faces painted with black grease. Their chariot? A 1932 Luverne fire engine. When the Vulcans aren't at the Winter Carnival, they're out making volunteer appearances in the local community. 

Photo by Lew Vogel


With age comes wisdom, or so the saying goes. If I could tell my 20-something self a few things, it would be this: Invest in Apple stock; don’t be so hard on yourself; that charge card there? That’s not “free money;” study abroad; people don’t care as much as you think they do (so have confidence in being unapologetically you); the best is yet to come; and attitude is everything. (If not everything, then the majority of everything.) I think about this last point on a regular basis living in Minnesota. Those of us who choose to live here can do one of two things when winter rolls around: Whine and complain and get depressed about the weather, or find ways to get outside and enjoy the season.

One of those ways is by visiting the St. Paul Winter Carnival from January 26-February 6, 2017. The Winter Carnival is just FUN. I love the history behind the traditions, I love that adults are willing to dress up and get into character (the Vulcan Krewe, the Royal Family, the Royal Order of Klondike Kates, the Order of the Royal Guards), and I love that my favorite Minnesota city of St. Paul is showcased. Most of all, I appreciate that there's so much to do outside, for all ages, in winter.  

Here are my top five reasons to visit this historic annual winter festival:

1. Ice, Ice, Baby  

You actually want cold weather throughout the Winter Carnival, because if it’s too balmy, you’d miss out on the following: A “Mini” Ice Palace carved out of blocks of ice, ice carving displays, ice skating at the Wells Fargo WinterSkate at Landmark Plaza, and an ice bar (serving hot mulled wine!).

2. Parades

There’s not one, not two, but three parades: The Moon Glow Parade (kicked off the Carnival on Thursday), the Grande Day Parade (January 28 from 2-4 p.m.), and the Vulcan Victory Torchlight Parade (February 4 from 5:30-7:30 p.m., starting at 5th and Wacouta and traveling westbound along 5th Street to Rice Park).   

Winter Carnival Snow Park snow slide

3. Snow Park at the Fair

Do you wanna build a snowman? Yes? You can take part in a snow sculpting contest January 28 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can also take a ride down the giant snow slide (cost is $2/ride; sleds provided), or visit the Snow Park on Sunday, January 29 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for family-friendly activities.

4. Fire & Ice: A Winter Carnival Art Show   

This is the first annual Winter Carnival Art Show, organized by the St. Paul Art Collective, and is featuring the work of more than 100 local artists. It’s happening at the AZ Gallery in Lowertown from now through February 19 (gallery hours are Thursday and Friday, 5-8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.).The art depicts the beauty of winter and the promise of spring through the themes of fire and ice. 

5. Saintly City Cat Show

According to the website, “The 41st Annual Saintly City Cat Championship Cat Show will feature hundreds of cats from the United States and Canada. The highest scoring male and female will be crowned Winter Carnival Household Pet King and Queen.” This is happening at the St. Paul RiverCentre Saturday, January 28 and Sunday, January 29 (starts at 9 a.m.). It’s $4 for adults and $3 for seniors and kids. Get to that show right meow.

For more information, visit wintercarnival.com.

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Whether you are a seasoned Twin Cities traveler or planning your first trip to Minnesota, this blog will introduce you to many new adventures to add to your itinerary. From day trips and scenic discoveries to luxurious girls weekends, travel tips, and insider scoops, our editors will give you all the information you need to enjoy your stay Up North.

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