Winter Carnival will have St. Paul hoppin’ and sippin’ and slippin’ and much more in the frosty air. And there’s also lots of outdoors fun going on outside the Capital City during the next couple of weeks. So, stick around. No need to leave the Twin Cities. Here are a few of the chill thrills.


Just up the hill from the Winter Carnival action, Crashed Ice has returned with the fantastical apparatus that sends competitors in hockey skates down a huge, luge-like tube that starts at the St. Paul Cathedral and takes a dizzy 1,600 foot trip, dropping 12 stories down the hill.


The “Ice Cross Downhill” competition is back in St. Paul for the sixth time. Competition is Feb. 3 and 4. It’s free to watch and it draws tens of thousands. For more info:


Winter Carnival is part of the new Great Northern festival, a 10-day cross-metro event that includes the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships and the City of Lakes Loppet Ski Festival in Minneapolis under one banner Jan. 27-Feb. 5. There’s information at, but here are some highlights:

Pond hockey: It called “hockey, the way nature intended.” That means outdoors, with rinks shoveled off on Lake Nokomis. Games are played Jan. 26-29. There will be 270 total teams and 27 rinks. It is free for fans to attend and all the games take place during the day. For more info:

Loppet ski festival: In addition to the races, with plenty of opportunities for spectators to see the action, there’s a beer garden, skijoring (skier pulled by a dog), snow sculpting, events for kids and more. The big event is the Luminary Loppet on Lake of the Isles on Saturday, Feb. 4. Participants can ski, snowshoe or stroll around hundreds of luminaria, the Ice Pyramid, fire dancers, the Enchanted Forest, Ice-Cropolis, Ice-Henge and Ice-ster Island. There’s complimentary cocoa and treats along the way. Participants must register for the event and receive an official Luminary Loppet glow stick. The REI Luminary Party afterward is free for registered Luminary Loppet participants and $10 for everyone else. The Loppet festival is Feb. 3-5. For info:

Art and eats: The Great Northern also has some fine dining with some of the Twin Cities top chefs — outdoors. And ice walls that will become projection screens.
In addition to the ice and snow sculptures and art shows that are part of the St. Paul Winter Carnival, original arts programming for Great Northern includes:

B-Lectric — Northern, the people who organize the all-night arts festival Northern Spark, and Uptown’s French bistro, Barbette, will construct custom ice walls outside the bistro. At sunset, these ice walls will become projection screens for a variety of light-based art. B-Lectric will also have art shanties, those wacky fish-house type art installations (which open on White Bear Lake in February, see below). The shanty spaces will highlight storytelling, dance, food, music and a champagne bar. The free B-Lectric is from 4:40 to 9 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29, at Barbette, 1600 W Lake St., Minneapolis. Projections begin at 5:30.

Living Banners and Words for Winter — A poetry-inspired art installation by Piotr Szyhalski will “wrap” the Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis between 12th and Fifth streets, along with short poems about winter by local writers displayed on electronic road construction signs. The word-laden works will kick off with a recorded sound and light show in Peavey Plaza with four showings throughout the evening of Jan. 30. Living Banners will be on the Mall from Jan. 30 to Feb. 5.

And the eats — The food events include a mobile sauna party and winter Kraftskivan crayfish from Surly chef Jorge Guzman and Wyatt Evans, chef/owner of Heirloom in St. Paul; an elegant outdoor dinner in the North Loop of Minneapolis prepared by Gavin Kaysen of Spoon and Stable, Bachelor Farmer’s Paul Berglund and Russell Klein of St. Paul’s Meritage; and an outdoor winter feast cooked over open flames and served under the canopy of the St. Paul Farmers’ Market by Thomas Boemer of Corner Table and Revival and Adam Eaton of Saint Dinette.


Those crazed-looking ice fishing houses on White Bear Lake in February are actually housing art experiences. The Art Shanty Project, in its third year on White Bear Lake, is a chance to interact with artists in a non-gallery environment. Come of this year’s shanties include a Chef Shanty, a Dance Shanty and an Air Hockey On Ice Shanty. On the more “unusual” side is the Slumber Party Shanty where “Visitors enter the shanty through a secret passage and make their way through the dark corners under the bed” before going upstairs to the slumber party. Or the I-C SPArkle-matic: “Like a human carwash, the I-C-SPArkle-Matic is a long enclosure with found objects that prod and poke the visitor as they make their way through the shanty.” The Art Shanty Project is open Saturdays and Sundays in February. For info:


Icicles, caves, tunnels, slides and towering walls that look like they froze as they boiled. The Ice Castle in Lowell Park in Stillwater is cool. Fans of Disney’s “Frozen” will feel the Anna and Elsa vibe. The castle is open Fridays through Sundays. The entrance fee is $6.95 to $8.95 for children under 12, and $9.95 to $12.95 for adults, depending on day and time. Tickets can be purchased in advance at


Internationally acclaimed artist Bruce Munro has installed five outdoor and two indoor pieces inspired by light at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. His collection, titled “Light and Language,” illuminates the night with its soft glow, light animation and sounds. In one, 28 towers made of recycled plastic water-filled bottles with lights, set to music, slowly undulate. Another is formed from 19 lamp posts, which branch out like a giant seed head from a central core. 5-10 p.m. Thursday-Sunday, through April 9; Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, 3675 Arboretum Drive, Chaska; 952-443-1400;

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