There’s No Shortage of Winter Activities in the Great White North

Photo courtesy of BigStock/nd3000
Photo courtesy of BigStock/nd3000

Winter in Minnesota can seem interminably long, especially if you stay cooped up in your house from early November to mid-April. While hibernation might work out well for actual bears, it’s not the best for humans. Social interaction along with just being in the good ol’ outdoors is healthy—both mentally and physically—not to mention fun. 

Let’s take a look at some of the many offerings on hand that’ll help keep the winter doldrums at bay until spring arrives in all of its rich green glory once more. 


Holidazzle 2021
Through Dec 19 • Peavey Plaza & Loring Park, Downtown Mpls

The beloved downtown Minneapolis tradition returns with entertainment, shopping, food, beverages, and crafts. Visit our website for dates and more details!

Bentleyville Tour of Lights
Through Dec 27 • Bayfront Festival Park, Duluth 

The largest free walkthrough lighting display in America has something for everyone! Free treats, 4 million+ lights and a 128-foot Christmas tree will delight folks of all ages. Free admission, parking is $10 per vehicle. •

Winter Lights 2021 
Through Jan 2 • Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Chaska

The Winter Lights display returns as a walking tour! Tickets are required and go quickly, so check our website to get yours now. Enjoying the fresh, crisp air of a Minnesota winter evening surrounded by thousands of lights is an experience not to be missed. The Arboretum café will be open, and shopping at the gift store and music will be available on certain nights.

GLOW Holiday Festival
Through Jan 22 • Minnesota State Fairgrounds

You’ve all heard of the “Great Minnesota Get-Together”, aka the Minnesota State Fair—now come out and enjoy the Great Minnesota Holiday Get-Together. It’s Minnesota’s newest holiday light experience featuring over a million holiday lights, icicle & art installations, a fun gingerbread house, Sky Glider rides, and a State Fair Food Court. Each night of GLOW will benefit a community charity.

Twinkle Weekend
Dec 3 – 5 • Downtown Stillwater

What would the holidays be without all of the bright, twinkling holiday lights casting a festive glow? Downtown Stillwater lights it up with the official lighting of the city’s Christmas tree that welcomes all with music, fun, Victorian carolers, and Twinkle lights being given out. Even Santa will be joining the fun.

Candyland Weekend
Dec 10 – 12 • Downtown Stillwater

Sugar & spice & everything nice? Stillwater’s got that and more this weekend! Victorian carolers, holiday lights, horse-drawn carriage rides, a gingerbread house building contest –there’s something for everyone to get them into that sweet, sweet holiday spirit. Even Santa and some of his reindeer will be making an appearance!

Mill City Winter – Farmers Markets
Select Saturdays Dec – April • Mill City Museum, Minneapolis

Just because the weather’s turned, it doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the bounty of local farmers! They’ll be heading indoors to sell their wares on select Saturdays from 10 AM – 1 PM. Face coverings, safe physical distancing, and other Covid safety protocols will be required to ensure everyone’s safety.


2022 Discover NHL Winter Classic
Jan 1 • 6 PM • Target Field, Minneapolis, MN 

The NHL’s annual outdoors New Year’s matchup will take place at Target Field this year with the hometown Minnesota Wild making their first Winter Classic appearance by taking on the St. Louis Blues. Come on out and show the world that Minnesota IS the State of Hockey! •

Art Shanty Projects
Jan 15 – Feb 6 • Lake Harriet/Bde Unma 

Indulge in a whimsical, weird, uniquely experience that inspires joy in everyone from kids to adults. This yearly interactive art project, inspired by the ice fishing villages so prominent on Minnesota lakes, has an anything goes motto as far as construction and decoration for the 150+ artists who participate. Just don’t bring your fishing pole!  

Ice Palace MAZE
Jan 15 – Feb 26 • Stillwater Zephyr Theatre, Stillwater

Fun for all ensues when you head out to this 114’ by 72’ Ice Palace MAZE that is constructed of over 1,500 ice blocks with an 8’ high perimeter wall and an ice slide. Free parking is available, restrooms are open and the bar will be open for takeout. Please be advised that masks will be required when inside.

Inaugural World Snow Sculpting Championship
Jan 18 – 23 • Stillwater

Billed as “The World’s Coolest Block Party”, this event will feature teams from around the world coming out to create amazing snow sculptures while being judged in competition for prize money and the title of World Champion. Attendees will have the chance to enjoy plenty of activities, ceremonies, social events, and the people’s choice award.

136th St. Paul Winter Carnival
Jan 28 – Feb 6 • Various St. Paul venues

Come out to enjoy this St. Paul tradition that celebrates all things winter! Watch ice carving competitions, enjoy free artistic and educational activities, music, dance, food, the medallion hunt, and more.

John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon
Jan 30 – Feb 2 • Duluth to Canadian border and back

The longest sled dog race in the lower 48, the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon sees competitors mushing in an event that covers nearly 400 miles and is a qualifier for the Iditarod race in Alaska. Come out to cheer on these mighty mushers. •


Dog Mushing! Women’s Winter Adventure
Feb 3 – 6 • 82 Irish Creek Rd., Hovland

Have you ever had dreams of racing across the winter landscape behind your very own team of sled dogs? Here’s your chance! This is a true off-the-grid adventure for those wishing to learn about and participate in a wonderfully unique winter sport.

City of Lakes Loppet Winter Festival
Feb 5 -6 • Theodore Wirth Park, Minneapolis

Originally designed as a cross-country ski race, the City of Lakes Loppet has become a winter staple that includes the Luminary Loppet, Cross-Country Ski, Skijor, Snowshoe, and Fat Tire Bike events through Theodore Wirth Park.

Tank Weekend
February 18-20 • The Saloon, Minneapolis

Twin Cities Leather presents the biggest local leather weekend of the year. The Saloon will be transformed into a celebration of leather and kink expression, and will include kinky drag, leather demos, pup mosh and leather performances.

39th Annual Finlandia Ski Marathon
Feb 19 • Bemidji

Attracting skiers from around the world, the Finlandia cross-country ski event has been held in Bemidji since 1982 and is often called the “The Nordic Festival of the North”. The event is open to skiers of all experience levels.

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