In recent years, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Minnesota have received a lot of press about what a great place it is to visit. Most recently, Travel + Leisure named us one of its 13 top destinations to visit in 2013. However, when these stories or rankings take place, reporters can’t help but offer a laugh and say something like, “Just don’t go visit in January, am I right?” Hardy har har. The thing is, we haven’t been named one of the most active places because we’re only outside six months out of the year. No, we’re active 365 days a year, and it only helps that communities statewide offer winter celebrations, many which take place this month. So, if you’re traveling in the next couple of weeks and want to celebrate the season, and get some fresh air to boot, check out these fun festivals.
WinterFest, Spicer (January 18-February 10): Enjoy everything from wine tastings, fireworks, horse and buggy rides, a frozen 5K, pond hockey, polar plunge, cross-country skiing and even a softball tournament.
Courtesy of Brainerd Jaycees
Ice Fishing Extravaganza
Icebox Days, International Falls (January 17-20): Who can say no to frozen turkey bowling, snow sculpting, candlelight skiing in Voyageurs National Park and the 5K and 10K Freeze Your Gizzard Runs? Called the Icebox of the Nation, International Falls breeds tough residents who endure temps like 46 degrees below zero (just a few days after the festival took place in 2011!).
Winter Fete, Bloomington (January 19-27): Activities like bike races, hockey tournaments, sledding, ice skating, ski jumping and broomball take place around the city.
Polar Daze, Bemidji (January 18-27): Build a snowman, race sleds, walk/run a 5K, take a polar plunge, cross-country ski or take in a hockey game.
Brainerd Jaycees $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza (January 19): Besides hockey, ice fishing is one of the most popular winter traditions among many Minnesota families. They know this in Brainerd, which is why this ice fishing contest is a hugely popular event each and every year.
Arrowhead 135, International Falls to Tower (begins January 28): Feeling made of particularly hardy stock? Have a go at the Arrowhead 135. That’s 135 miles across northern Minnesota on bike, foot or ski. Check out some photos of last year. Warning: frostbite toes pictured. Also, see video below. (While registration is closed for 2013, think about it for next year!)