Twin Cities PBS carves out a cool look at “The Legendary St. Paul Winter Carnival” in a new documentary that begins airing Tuesday on TPT2.

Using tons of old photos and archival film footage, the hourlong documentary is bound to put an ice block-size lump in the throat of fans of the annual winter festivities. But even those who choose to watch the 10-day St. Paul celebration from the warm side of a window are going to find fascinating stories and history in the program, written and produced by Ashleigh Rowe.

Collectors and historians are interviewed, and there’s an inside look at some of the more than 250,000 Winter Carnival items sheltered by the Minnesota Historical Society.

From the carnival’s start in 1886 after a New York Times reporter called St. Paul “another Siberia, unfit for human habitation in the winter,” the documentary is packed with facts and images of ice palaces, parades, royalty, races, games and more.

Did you know ….

  • Montreal had a famous Winter Carnival, which St. Paul took over when it had to be shut down in 1886 because of smallpox.
  • The ice palace at that first carnival was only a few stories shorter than the tallest building in the Midwest at the time and the first building in St. Paul to have electricity.
  • A downtown street used to be flooded for ice skating during the carnival.
  • Celebs who have been in St. Paul for the festivities include Omar Sharif. Dinah Shore brought her show to the Winter Carnival in 1957. Hubert Humphrey was grand marshal of the carnival in 1966 while he was vice president of the United States.


  • What: “The Legendary St. Paul Winter Carnival”
  • When and where: 7 p.m. Tuesday on TPT2, 7 p.m. Dec. 3 on TPT2, 4 a.m. Dec. 4 on TPT2, 6:30 p.m. Dec. 4 on TPT Life, 12:30 a.m. Dec. 5 on TPT Life, 10:30 p.m. Dec. 5 on TPT2.
  • More information:

St. Paul Winter Carnival festivities included a giant toboggan slide near the Capitol. (Photo courtesy TPT)

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