The St. Paul Winter Carnival is all about tradition, but there are a few new things to look for at the 131st event.

A mini ice palace in Rice Park will feature a stage made of ice and a “king’s throne” on opposite ends of the park. Two galleries of ice sculptures, merchandise, vendors and an ice bar will return to the downtown square.

A rendering of the mini ice palace planned for Rice Park for the 2017 St. Paul Winter Carnival. (Courtesy of St. Paul Winter Carnival)
A rendering of the mini ice palace planned for Rice Park for the 2017 St. Paul Winter Carnival. (Courtesy of St. Paul Winter Carnival)

Any mention of an ice palace — mini or otherwise — raises the question: When will St. Paul have another massive ice structure that once were the hallmark of the festival? The last ice palace was built in 2004, but it’s been generally assumed a huge Winter Carnival ice palace would return in 2018, when the celebration coincides with Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

“We are actively planning for a large 2018 ice palace,” said Rosanne Bump, president and CEO of the St. Paul Festival and Heritage Foundation, which presides over the Winter Carnival. “We’re making great progress,” she said, “and we’re in the process of finding a location.”

The Winter Carnival has received funding for the 2018 palace from Explore Minnesota (the state’s office of tourism), the city of St. Paul and other funders, Bump said. But they would be happy to talk to any business or other funders who want to be involved.

Recent warm winters have the Winter Carnival folks exploring options for building a massive ice structure, Bump said. They looked at an “alternative panel system,” which didn’t work out, she said.

“We’re researching working with a community up north where they would have ice” and transporting it to St. Paul, Bump said. Another possibility is to harvest ice this winter and save it for next year.


  • The Vulcans are hosting the “Snow Park Plunge” at their snow park at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. Think Polar Plunge, that wacky practice of jumping into open water in the winter. The snow park has the Winter Carnival snow sculptures and activities. Plungers will dip into a special pool near the snow park.
  • The 2017 Winter Jazz Festival, which takes place Jan. 28 and 29 at TPT’s Street Space and the Saint Paul Hotel, will put programming on the Winter Carnival entertainment stage at Rice Park on Jan. 29.
  • Frozen Family Fun night expands on Jan. 31 at Rice Park. Guests will include Elsa and Anna from the film “Frozen” and members of the St. Paul mounted police. The popular family band Koo Koo Kangaroo has been booked. (Bump said she’s particularly excited about the music lineup for Rice Park, which will be announced soon.)
  • The always-popular ice bar in Rice Park will offer hot spiced wine in addition to the beer and chilled wine of previous years.

Copyright 2017 Pioneer Press.