Saint Paul Winter Carnival

While “winter” and “carnival” aren’t two words I would normally associate together, in St. Paul the combination of the two really does result in “the coolest celebration on earth.”

The Saint Paul Winter Carnival first started in 1886 as a way to celebrate becoming America’s fastest growing city and third-largest rail center, but also as a way to prove a New York newspaper reporter who deemed the area “unfit for habitation in the winter” wrong. Now, more than 125 years later, the tradition is still going strong, drawing some 350,000 visitors each year.  

Photo by Todd Buchanan

The celebration will kick off with a Moon Glow Parade on Thursday and continue through Feb. 3. On Friday, be introduced to King Boreas, Queen of the Snows, and the rest of this year’s royal family at the Royal Coronation, listen to music in Rice Park, or check out the ice cross downhill racers at Red Bull Crashed Ice. On Saturday, dance away to music at Rock the Palace or the Winterfest mit Euro-Dance Party, watch the King Boreas Grand Day Parade, cheer on competitors in the Autonomous Snow Plow Competition, or look at orchids at Marjorie McNeely Conservatory. If you’re around on Sunday, check out the World’s Toughest BBQ, a new event featuring food from Famous Dave’s, celebrate Mozart’s 157th birthday by listening to local groups perform, or let kids head out on a medallion hunt, fire truck ride, or through a snow maze at the Snow Park. Of course, no matter which day you’re there, there’s plenty to do, including children’s and juried art shows, snow sculpting competitions, ice and memorabilia displays, ice skating at Wells Fargo WinterSkate, and geocaching. For even more events, check out the full calendar.  

If that isn’t enough wintertime fun for you, check out these other seasonal celebrations happening across the state.

Tip: Print out a pass to ride free on Metro Transit on Saturday (Jan. 26)  from 9 a.m.-10 p.m.