Everything You Must Do in the Twin Cities This Winter

Updated On 12/19/2017 at 05:46PM EST Updated On 12/19/2017 at 05:46PM EST
Saint Paul Winter Carnival
Saint Paul Winter Carnival | Teresa Boardman
Wells Fargo Winter Skate
Wells Fargo Winter Skate | Courtesy of
Wednesday - Sunday
Dec 20-Feb 11
Downtown St. Paul
Lace up those skates and act out your own version of The Mighty Ducks (which takes place in Minneapolis, if you didn’t know) at Wells Fargo Winter Skate. It's completely free for the whole family, so a trip to the small, but scenic, rink in the heart of downtown St. Paul is a great way to spend a snowy afternoon.
Cost: Free admission, free skate rental for Wells Fargo customers, otherwise $4 for rentals
Dec 31
If you’re in search of the perfect winter selfie, Ice Castles returns to Stillwater this year with frozen waterfalls, icicles, tunnels, and caves. It’s recommended that everyone wears boots, and if you’re transporting little ones, bring a sled instead of a stroller.
Cost: Ages 12 and up weekdays $9.95, holidays & weekends $13.95, ages 4-11 weekdays $6.95, holidays & weekends $8.95, under 3 free (all prices for tickets bought in advance, walk-up prices higher)
Saint Paul Winter Carnival
Saint Paul Winter Carnival | Robert Ferdinandt
Jan 13
Downtown Minneapolis, Uptown, Dinkytown
Come one, come all to the Great Onesie Bar Crawl. Participants are invited to don adult footie pajamas, animal-print sleepers, or really any one-piece costume and (warmly) shuffle through the streets. The fact that the crawl takes place at college bars like The Pourhouse and Cowboy Slim’s, coupled with the fact participants get a free shot at every location, means it’s sure to be a wild time -- but at least you’ll be comfy.
Cost: $15 in advance, $20 at the door
Friday - Saturday
Jan 19-20
Downtown St. Paul
Red Bull Crashed Ice brings the toughest skaters in the world to compete on a massive track with hairpin turns and stomach-sinking drops in the sport known as “ice cross downhill.” Returning to the State of Hockey for the 7th year, athletes speed past spectators at nearly 50 mph as they navigate the half-mile course -- you just have to hold your breath and watch.
Cost: Free
Friday - Sunday
Jan 19-21
Target Field
If you bleed navy blue and scarlet red, you won’t want to miss the Minnesota baseball tradition known as TwinsFest. Snag autographs and photos with more than 60 current, former, and future players, attend the memorabilia and collectors’ show, and get a tour of the Twins Archive Room -- all while bonding with a thousand of your fellow fans.
Cost: Ages 13 and up $20, ages 12 and under $10
Thursday - Sunday
Jan 25-28
Lake Nokomis
Watch players from all over the world -- from the pint-sized to the pros -- as they compete round-robin style at the 13th annual Labatt Blue U.S. Pond Hockey Championships. A very Minnesotan thing, pond hockey historically takes place on a frozen creek or backyard pond-turned-ice-rink, but these bouts go down at Lake Nokomis where players will once again compete for the coveted Golden Shovel.
Cost: Free
Thursday - Saturday
Jan 25-Feb 10
Downtown St. Paul
This long-standing winter celebration was spawned in retaliation to an article published in 1885 by a New York reporter calling St. Paul “another Siberia -- unfit for human habitation.” The next year, the rightly-offended St. Paul Chamber of Commerce created the Winter Carnival with entertainment and events showing the city at its finest, weather be damned. This year, there are more than four dozen things to do, ranging from parades to a treasure hunt to a snowplow competition.
Cost: Most events are free
Friday - Sunday
Jan 26-Feb 4
Various locations
It’s no secret that people will be partying way before Super Bowl LII takes over town -- with more than one million visitors expected to flock to the Twin Cities, there’s a slew of events going on in the 10 days leading up to the game. Super Bowl LIVE along Nicollet Mall will be a free fan fest, Super Bowl Experience will take over the Convention Center featuring interactive NFL experiences, and Super Bowl Opening Night at the Xcel will feature players and coaches addressing the crowd. Mega-concerts by Imagine Dragons, P!NK, Jennifer Lopez, and The Chainsmokers will take place at both the newly-renovated Armory in Minneapolis and Mystic Lake Casino in Prior Lake.
Cost: Free for Super Bowl LIVE, $55 for Super Bowl Experience, Super Bowl Opening Night sold out, concerts starting at $175 and up
Jan 27
Downtown St. Paul
Baby, it’s cold outside, but for avid runners, that doesn’t matter. Layer on your long underwear, find your warmest hat and gloves, and lace up your sneakers for the Securian Winter Run. Distances to choose from include a 5K, 10K, half-marathon, and kids’ fun run, and all proceeds benefit the St. Paul Festival & Heritage Foundation.
Cost: 5K is $40; 10K is $45; half-marathon is $50; kids’ fun run is $10
Saturday - Sunday
Jan 27-28
St. Paul RiverCentre
Whether you’re proud to be a cat lady (or gentleman), or you got talked into going as that person’s plus one, the annual Saintly City Cat Show is truly a sight to behold. Watch the fur fly as hundreds of felines go nose-to-nose to win the titles of Pet King and Queen.
Cost: Adults $4; kids and seniors $3
Saturday - Sunday
Jan 27-Feb 4
Wirth Park to Lake Calhoun
The City of Lakes Loppet Ski Festival returns to Uptown this year bigger and better than ever, expecting to draw a record crowd of 10,000 people. (What is a loppet, you ask? Basically, a long-distance cross-country ski race.) You can enter competitive events like the speed skating or dogsled loppet, or you can participate in the non-competitive night luminary loppet -- complete with cocoa and treat stops. Not a skier? There’s a snow sculpture contest, Kubb tournament, food trucks, and Surly beer garden to keep you busy.
Cost: Free for spectators, luminary loppet $23 for adults, $12 for kids
Jan 28
Harriet Island, St. Paul
Only in Minnesota could creative geniuses turn snow removal into performance art. On Harriet Island surrounded by the Mississippi, dancers from the St. Paul Ballet will (literally) start their (snowblower) engines and swirl, sweep, and shovel as part of the Snowblower Ballet. Accompanied by the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, it’s definitely a unique, can’t-miss show.
Cost: Free
Feb 4
U.S. Bank Stadium
Minneapolis plays host to its second Super Bowl ever (the last was in 1992,) and U.S. Bank Stadium is the hottest ticket in town. No matter who ends up on the field (the Vikings still have a shot as of press time,) getting a ticket is next to impossible unless you have some serious connections. Fortunately, there are tons of great bars in the newly named “Downtown East” area surrounding the stadium where you can watch the game -- and per special permit, they’ll be able to stay open until 4am, so plan your Monday accordingly.
Cost: Priceless
Cupid's Undie Run
Cupid's Undie Run | Jillian Simpson
Feb 8
Walker Art Center
You may not be able to afford a lift ticket at a fancy ski resort this season, but as part of Target’s Free Thursday Nights, you can winter at the Walker for zero dollars. They’ll have unique activities both indoors and out, including a small sauna partly designed by U of M students, a mixed-media fiber arts workshop, and a moonlight snowshoe tour in the neighboring sculpture garden.
Cost: Free
Feb 17
Downtown Minneapolis
If you’re comfortable dropping your pants for a good cause, Cupid’s Undie Run is your race. Billed as a “brief” run (about one mile) and a big party at The Pourhouse, the run will have all proceeds from entry fees go to find a cure for a genetic disorder called neurofibromatosis. If you’re not comfortable with stripping to your skivvies, costumes are also encouraged.
Cost: $30
Feb 24
Minnesota State Fairgrounds
Usually, beer fests take place in the summer, but here it’s no secret that imbibing in the winter helps keep you warm. The Winter Beer Dabbler, which returns for the 9th year, is the perfect place to sample suds from more than 150 local, regional, and national breweries. And, if you make your own beer, the Dabbler also has a “best of” contest for Minnesota home brews -- register in advance and bring two 12-ounce bottles to be judged.
Cost: General admission $45 (applies to tickets bought in advance; walk-up prices higher)
Feb 24
The Armory, Downtown Minneapolis
Dance/electronica musician/DJ Steve Aioki is probably best known for his crazy stage antics, like spraying the crowd with Champagne and throwing cake at concert-goers, so his stop here is bound to be a fun show. His tour to promote his 4th album Kolony features rapper Desiigner and will take place in the still-being-renovated historic Armory, which will open in late January and probably be the next concert hotspot, so you’ll want to get in on the ground floor.
Cost: Ticket prices start at $30
Demi Lovato Concert
Demi Lovato Concert | Sky Cinema/
Mar 3
Lake Calhoun
You’d have to be crazy to jump into a frigid Minnesota lake in March, right? Well, yes... but what if it were for a good cause? The annual Polar Plunge challenges participants to fundraise for the Special Olympics and then leap into Lake Calhoun with hundreds of onlookers watching. Past plungers have used words like “fun” and “rewarding” to describe the day, so consider braving the chill this year for charity.
Cost: Must fundraise $75 to participate
Mar 10
Target Center
If being indoors in the winter is more your thing, see singer-songwriter Demi Lovato on her North American tour along with hip-hop icon DJ Khaled. Lovato will perform smash hits like “Sorry Not Sorry” and “Heart Attack,” and Khaled always kills it with “All I Do Is Win.”
Cost: Ticket prices start at $29.95
Mar 23
Xcel Energy Center
Grammy award-winning artist Lorde will takes the stage at the Xcel this March. Part of her nationwide tour, the stop in St. Paul will feature four new songs off her sophomore album Melodrama, and we’ve gotta hope “Royals” and “Team,” too.
Cost: Ticket prices start at $39.50
Mar 24
Minnesota History Center, Downtown St. Paul
If finding an unusual craft pour or in-demand seasonal specialty at your local watering hole makes you feel like a winner, finding a carefully curated list of one-off taps from around the country is like hitting the jackpot. Your ticket is the Northern Lights Rare Beer Fest, where more than 30 breweries (including 10 local breweries from Minnesota like Modist and Dangerous Man) have special suds to sip. It’s a bit pricey for beer, but “rare” usually equals “expensive,” and at least you get food from D’Amico, too.
Cost: General admission $100