11 Winter Festivals In Minnesota That Are Simply Unforgettable
Whether or not it snows, it’s obvious when it is
winter in Minnesota. But the season’s arrival doesn’t mean it’s time to hibernate until the spring season – just the opposite, actually. As Minnesotans, we have a reputation for keeping optimistic even in the face of harsh winter cold. The following unforgettable winter festivals in Minnesota prove that reputation – and they offer fun activities spread throughout the season so that you’ll have something to look forward to even after the holidays end.
1. Frostbite Days - Monticello
Please note, Monticello no longer hosts the Frostbite Days festival.
Each year, Monticello's Frostbite Days festival helps Minnesotans celebrate winter the only way we know how: outside. An ice fishing contest and a snowmobile show are perfect ways to get in the mood for the snow.
2. Ely Winter Festival - Ely
One of the most beloved of all Minnesota winter events, Ely Winter Festival has a little bit of everything: ice fishing, snowshoeing, and even a beard contest. But the most notable attraction? The intricately carved sculptures that line the center of the town. Seriously, these things get more amazing every year. This festival, which typically takes place in February each year, is definitely worth the trip up north. Find out more on the
Ely Winter Festival website
3. International Eelpout Festival - Walker
Please note, the International Eelpout Festival was held for the last time in 2019.
Every year, thousands gather on Leech Lake in the tiny town of Walker to participate in an epic ice fishing battle. The festival gets its unusual name from the eelpout, an ugly bottom-dwelling fish that makes its home in the lake. Contestants earn prizes by catching the highest volume of eelpout and by creating the most lavish ice house.
4. Icebox Days - International Falls
International Falls, MN 56649, USA
If International Falls wants to live up to its nickname as the Icebox of the Nation, it only makes sense that it would host a festival called Icebox Days. When you visit, you can participate in races, fireworks, and moonlight skiing. Or if you want to do something a little more silly, try frozen turkey bowling. This festival usually takes place over the course of several days in January. For more information, check out the
Icebox Days website
5. Winter Carnival - St. Paul
Saint Paul, St Paul, MN, USA
During winter in Minnesota, the St. Paul Winter Carnival is a classic - and for good reason. There are tons of things to do and see, making it perfect for those who crave winter celebration more than once a season. Parades, sledding, snowplow races, and even a cat show - not to mention the occasional ice castle - all make for an amazingly fun winter festival and one of the best things to do in Minnesota during the winter season. Festivities run from late January through early February. Go to the
St. Paul Winter Carnival website
for help planning your visit.
6. Rochester WinterFest - Rochester
Please note, the Rochester WinterFest has been canceled.
Rochester WinterFest aims to raise awareness and funds for community events. Figure skating, food, a polar plunge, and more do a lot to get people out and involved. The event runs from late January to early February each winter.
7. Spicer Winterfest - Spicer
If the weather is too warm, Spicer Winterfest must go on without its main attraction - an ice castle; however, even without its main attraction, it's still one of the best winter festivals in Minnesota. The popular polar plunge is a great way to wake up in the morning. Follow that up with live music, great food, a run, and more. Check it out in January. For more information, check out the
Spicer Winterfest website
8. Sandstone Ice Festival - Sandstone
Here is a little-known event that deserves a lot more attention, as it is easily worthy of being classified as one of the best winter festivals in Minnesota. Held at Sandstone's Robinson Park, climbers gather each year to climb the sheet of ice covering the tall sandstone cliffs. But if you're not a climber, you don't just have to watch. You can take a lesson in ice climbing or winter camping. Or, if you're just in it for the food, you'll be happy to learn that an annual chili cook-off will be there to warm you up. A great way to celebrate winter in Minnesota, the event typically takes place in early January. Check the
Sandstone Ice Festival website
for more information.
9. Grumpy Old Men Festival - Wabasha
Did you know
Grumpy Old Men
was filmed in Wabasha, Minnesota? The town takes that legacy very seriously. Each year, they host one of the most unique of all Minnesota winter events, the Grumpy Old Men Festival. The annual event is meant to celebrate the movie that gave the town its moment in the sun. An ice fishing contest, a poker tournament, and a hot dish luncheon are just a few attractions. But the most interesting feature is perhaps the Grumpy Plunge. Participants often dress up as
Grumpy Old Men
characters before they take the plunge into icy cold water. Festival dates vary from year to year, so make sure to regularly check the
Grumpy Old Men Festival website
for updated festival info.
10. Celebration of the Lakes - Chisago City, Lindstrom, Center City
Center City, MN 55012, USA
Most Minnesota towns think summer is the best time to celebrate their lakes, but these three believe the lakes are best enjoyed when frozen. Each year, locals step out into the cold to appreciate the many lakes in the Chisago Lakes area. Food, snowshoeing, and other fun keep people coming out year after year. This winter festival takes place every year, usually in January. Check the
Celebration of the Lakes website
for current event details.
11. Holidazzle - Minneapolis
The Twin Cities' other biggest winter event is definitely Holidazzle. There are so many things to do at this parade leading up to Christmas that you may wish Christmas doesn't come so that Holidazzle never ends. Thousands of glimmering lights add a festive air to the festival. You can ride a carriage, ice skate, or visit Santa - the possibilities are endless. You can even watch a holiday movie outside. What's more Minnesotan than that? Each year, the festive fun typically kicks off in November and runs throughout the holiday season. Find more information by visiting the
There are so many winter festivals in Minnesota that it’s sometimes hard to squeeze them all in. How many do you plan to attend? Have you attended any (or all) of the fests mentioned above? Know of any other fun things to do in Minnesota during the winter season? Whatever it is, tell us!
Looking for holiday-themed things to do in Minnesota? You’re in luck; there are lots to choose from! Here are just a few of the enchanting
Christmas events in Minnesota that belong on your seasonal bucket list.
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More to Explore
Winter Festivals In Minnesota
What are some ways to have fun during winter in Minnesota?
There are lots of ways to have fun during winter in Minnesota, including:
Are there any other fun Minnesota winter events?
Minnesota winter events are abundant. Here are a few things to do in Minnesota during the winter season: