Art Flourishes on Frozen Lake Harriet

When I walked onto frozen Lake Harriet last weekend, I could already see a crowd of people on the far side of the lake and objects dotting the sky. My excitement grew as I continued walking and the objects became more clear. From an astronaut to giant sea creatures and one pair of disembodied legs flapping in the wind, my group and I had fun spotting the brightly colored and good humored kites that were flying high above.

We were here to see the annual Lake Harriet Kite Festival, and as a first-timer, I can say that it did not disappoint, especially because it coincided with the Art Shanty Projects. For the past few winters, the artist-designed fishing huts have been housed across the metro on White Bear Lake, and now that they have been moved to Lake Harriet, I cannot think of a better combination of events.

With the art shanties being a little obscure at times, it can be difficult to get friends who are not as “artsy” to appreciate them for what they are. And I would assume (being a first-timer) that the Kite Festival can be boring if you do not have kids or own a kite to participate. Together, the two events found a perfect balance of entertainment, whimsy, and approachable art.

As I wandered around the art installations, I was pleased at the crowd I saw. When I attended the Art Shanty Projects last year, the spectators were typically hipster types in their late 20’s and 30’s. This time, there were more families and people of varying ages in the mix (and a lot of dogs—which was a welcome distraction for those in my group who weren’t as into the art). It was also nice that the organizers seemed to anticipate this change in audience and featured more family-friendly themes, like large-scale twister, four giant swings, and a hut with holes on the outside that adventurous visitors could stick their hands into and feel various objects.

Even though the Kite Festival only happens one day a year, I recommend taking a visit to Lake Harriet to see the art installations this winter. The huts are free and open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. until February 11. And if Minneapolis decides to book these events on the same day (or extend the Kite Festival for the entirety of the Art Shanty Projects) next year, I will happily mark it down in my calendar as one of my must-do winter activities.