Minnesota Spring Events

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Explore Minnesota Events Update – May 1, 2019

Festival of Nations at St. Paul RiverCentre, May 2-5; photo by Lucy Hawthorne

Event highlights this week include:

May 2-5, Winona
100 Mile Garage Sale

May 4, St. Paul
Cinco de Mayo – West Side Saint Paul

May 4, Nisswa
KFAN Golf Opener Tent Party: Live Music by Rock Godz

April 25 – May 18, Moorhead
Theatre B Presents “Cry It Out”

May 3-5, Sandstone
Women’s Wellness & Adventure Weekend & Kettle River Paddle Festival


[Northeast] [Northwest] [Central]
[Minneapolis-St. Paul Area] [Southern]

Southern Minnesota

April 5 – May 25, Lanesboro
Holmes and Watson
Don’t miss this twisting, tantalizing mystery! Sherlock Holmes has been dead three years when Dr. Watson receives a message from a mental asylum: three patients are claiming to be Sherlock Holmes. Did the world’s greatest sleuth fake his own death? Who’s the real detective and who are the impostors? Find out in this gripping, witty, intelligent thriller. Commonweal Theatre Company. 507-467-2525

May 2-5, Winona
100 Mile Garage Sale
Residents and stores clean out their attics, garages and basements to create the most spectacular garage sale imaginable! A trail of distinctive colored ribbons will identify participating garage sales along Hwy 61 from Red Wing to Winona. Numerous cities along the Mississippi River. 507-452-0735

May 3-4, Winona
Mid West Music Fest
Mid West Music Fest (MWMF) is an all-ages, multi-venue, multi-genre and multi-day music festival. The festival features an exciting line-up of over 100 bands and musicians in 11 venues across downtown Winona. Headliners include Charlie Parr, Frankie Lee, Chastity Brown, Communist Daughter, Lucy Michelle, Black-Eyed Snakes, Black Market Brass and many more. Other highlights include a chance for children of all ages to try out instruments, and the Sounds Like School stage where young talent can collaborate with seasoned headliners. Various venues in Winona. 507-452-0735

May 4, Faribault
Big Hats & Big Hearts – Derby Party for the Arts
Don’t miss this annual spring tradition featuring live music, hat contests, Derby-themed games, hors d’oeuvres, cash bar and Derby-themed beverages, live and silent auctions, door prizes and the greatest two minutes in sports on a big screen. Celebrate and support the arts through this great evening of fashion, fun and friends! Paradise Center for the Arts. 507-332-7372

May 10-12, Rochester
Gold Rush
The original Gold Rush is now in its 47th year. This is one of the largest shows in the Midwest, covering the entire 52-acre fairgrounds with indoor and outdoor spaces. Roughly 1200 dealers from all over the country will be displaying their wares including antique furniture, primitives, glassware, pottery, jewelry, clocks, watches, lamps, coins, art, toys, advertising, farm & car collectibles, hunting & fishing items, and Funky Junque. Olmsted County Fairgrounds at Hwy 63 S & 16th St SE. 507-269-1473

May 10-12, Lake City
Spring Warbler Weekend
Join experienced birders who will help you find and identify warblers, owls, orioles, and many other birds. Groups will take trails or travel by car in Hok-Si-La and nearby parks on the Mississippi River. Also enjoy gathering, socializing, eating and recording at Hok-Si-La Park. 651-340-3487

May 17-19, Spring Grove
Spring Grove Syttende Mai
Celebrate Norwegian Independence and Norwegian ancestry during Syttende Mai in Spring Grove. Don’t miss the Blast Off Banquet & Social Hour, Running with My Gnomies, Musikk Fest, grand parade, Nordic dancers, kids’ pedal pull, corn hole tournament, daily garage sales, games in the park, walks on the Norwegian Ridge Birding & Nature Trail and much more. Viking Memorial Park. 507-458-7793

Minneapolis-St. Paul Area

March 1 – Sept. 28, Chanhassen
Mamma Mia!
One mom. One daughter. Three possible dads. And a trip down the aisle you’ll never forget! Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. 952-934-1525

May 2-5, St. Paul
Festival of Nations
Festival of Nations, the largest multi-cultural event in Minnesota, brings together people from a vast array of backgrounds to celebrate their ethnic heritage. Through world-class entertainment, daily performances, exhibits, food, music, dance and personal connections, this family-friendly festival provides a look into the traditions, history and journey of over 90 ethnic groups, and sheds light on how each one contributes to the American cultural landscape. St. Paul RiverCentre. 651-647-0191

May 2-4 & 9-11, Isanti/Cambridge
Spring Unique Boutique & Antiques Tour
The Spring Unique Boutique & Antiques Tour is a self-guided tour of 11 unique shops filled with antiques, collectibles, vintage, repurposed, enhanced and one-of-a-kind items and treasures. A great way to kick-off your summer. Various locations in the communities of Isanti, Cambridge, Bradford and St. Francis. 763-267-1770

May 3-5, Stillwater
St. Croix Valley Art Opener Studio Tour
The annual Art Opener Studio Tour provides an outstanding opportunity to visit an eclectic mix of artists in studios nestled in the scenic St. Croix Valley. The tour features the artwork off 22 artists and 10 locations, as well as fiber and clay demonstrations throughout the weekend. Studios in downtown Stillwater and nearby towns. 651-351-1717

May 4, St. Paul
Cinco de Mayo – West Side Saint Paul
This award-winning, family-friendly experience features over six blocks of food, music, dancing and children’s activities, as well as a lowrider car show, colorful parade and a “People’s Choice” salsa tasting contest. Embrace the colorful history and rich traditions of Hispanic/Latino culture! Cesar Chavez Street – District del Sol. 651-223-7400

May 4-5, St. Paul
Grillfest 2019
Join Minnesota Monthly in celebrating its 8th Annual Grillfest, a two-day summer kickoff event full of food, fun and most importantly, grilling! This year’s event will feature food, beer and wine sampling from many great vendors, special pricing on grills and products, and grilling tips that are guaranteed to make you the envy of your neighbors. CHS Field. 612-371-5834

May 4-5, Excelsior
Lake Minnetonka Studio Tour
The Lake Minnetonka Studio Tour features the artwork of 34 artists in 14 home studios in the lake communities of Deephaven, Excelsior and Minnetonka. A large variety of media and styles will be for sale, with some artists offering demonstrations of works in progress. 952-475-1491

May 5, Minneapolis
MayDay Celebration
Join more than 50,000 people from near and far as they fill the streets both as participants and spectators for this day of celebration and community. Enjoy a spectacular parade, live music, dancing, performances, poetry, canoe rides, wide array of foods and information tables. Don’t miss the MayDay Tree of Life Ceremony where children and adult dancers, puppeteers, a live orchestra and four giant serene puppets representing the Prairie, Sky, River and Woods awake the Tree of Life. The Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre’s annual MayDay parade, ceremony and festival has been a vibrant example of art’s roles in community building for 45 years. Powderhorn Park. 612-721-2535

May 10-12, Lake Elmo
Shepherd’s Harvest Festival
The 22nd Shepherd’s Harvest Festival is Minnesota’s largest sheep and wool festival. Events include Minnesota’s largest fleece competition, sheep shearing, fleece skirting demos, book-signings and more. Families always enjoy the sheep and goats in the barn and this year there will be a new Farm Work Stock Dog Trial! The fairgrounds are filled with music, food, artisans and animals. Washington County Fairgrounds. 612-961-9625; 763-242-2488

May 10-12, Harris
St. Croix Valley Potters Tour
This free spring studio tour of potteries along the St. Croix River Valley celebrates the hand-made pottery. Seven studios will be showing and selling great handmade pottery from over 54 regional, national and international potters. Studios from Harris to Shafer. 651-674-4656

May 11, Minneapolis
Ira Glass
Ira Glass, the beloved host and creator of NPR’s hit weekly radio show This American Life, invites us into his creative process, mixing audio clips, music and video to tell captivating stories live onstage, and sharing lessons and insights gathered over his career. This American Life is heard each week by over 2.2 million listeners on more than 500 public radio stations, with another 2.5 million downloading each podcast. Historic State Theatre. 612-339-7007

May 11, Waconia
Sister Saturday
This girls day out in Waconia features free swag bags for the first 50 women at 2 locations, a fashion show, and shopping and dining deals at participating shops and restaurants throughout Waconia. Bring your sisters, mothers and friends! 952-442-5812

May 11-12, Minneapolis
The Loft’s Wordplay
The Loft’s Wordplay aims to be the biggest party for words Minnesota has ever seen. Imagine a weekend full of famous authors (Stephen King!) and celebrated books, readings, conversations, workshops, kids’ activities, demonstrations, one-of-a-kind happenings on outdoor stages, book signings, quiet reading corners, boisterous parties, food trucks, beer tents and books, books, books! Also enjoy a Friday night author concert with the Rock Bottom Remainders at First Avenue. The Loft Literary Center. 612-215-2575

May 17, Minneapolis
Art Girls For Questscope
Art Girls for Questscope will bring together art enthusiasts and philanthropists across the Twin Cities in support of refugee and marginalized youth. Hosted by The Art Girls, a local arts organization, four Minnesota artists will have beautiful works of art for sale to benefit Questscope. Le Meridien Chambers. 612-607-6476

May 18, Chaska
A Day of Birding Walks and Workshops
Join birding enthusiasts and experts from around the region and celebrate the spring migration amidst spring flowers. The day is packed with featured presenters, workshops, classes, organization booths and guided walks. All must pre-register. Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. 952-443-1400

Upcoming Twin Cities’ concerts and performances include: 
Double Dare Live! at the Historic State Theatre in Minneapolis, May 1
Jessie James Decker at the Historic State Theatre, May 2
Overkill at Varsity Theatre in Minneapolis, May 3
Stars on Ice at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, May 3
Garth Brooks at the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, May 3-4
ABBA – The Concert at Treasure Island Resort & Casino in Welch, May 4
P!NK: Beautiful Trauma Tour at the Xcel Energy Center, May 5
The 1975 at The Armory in Minneapolis, May 7
The Play That Goes Wrong at the Historic Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, May 7-12
Autonomy: A Theatrical Thrill Ride at the St. Paul RiverCentre, May 9-12
An Evening with 98 Degrees at Mystic Lake Casino Hotel in Prior Lake, May 10
RBRM: Ronnie, Bobby, Rocky & Mike at The Armory, May 10
David Crosby at the Pantages Theatre in Minneapolis, May 10
The Twin Cities Ballet of Minnesota: Narnia at Ames Center in Burnsville, May 10-12
Chicago at Treasure Island Resort & Casino, May 11
Ira Glass – Seven Things I’ve Learned at the Historic State Theatre, May 11
Griz at the Armory, May 17
Sammy Hagar & The Circle at the Mystic Lake Ampitheater, May 17
Celtic Woman – Ancient Land
Cher: Here We Go Again Tour at the Xcel Energy Center, May 18
Jim Jefferies at the Historic Orpheum Theatre, May 18
Marianas Trench at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis, May 25
Foreigner at Treasure Island Resort & Casino, May 26
Dear Evan Hansen – The Tony Award-Winning Best Musical at the Historic Orpheum Theatre, May 28 – June 29
Adam Sandler at Treasure Island Resort & Casino, May 31
John Prine at the Northrop Auditorium in Minneapolis, May 31
Eddie Izzard at the Historic State Theatre, June 1
Juice WRLD at the Armory, June 1
Todd Rundgren at Ames Center in Burnsville, June 3
Tickets are available through Hennepin Theatre Trust and Ticketmaster

Central Minnesota

May 3, St. Cloud
Church of CASH – The Johnny Cash Show
Whether you are an old-timer that grew up listening to Mr. Cash or someone who loves the classics, the Church of Cash will deliver the music of Johnny Cash with style and energy. Church of CASH is loyal to Johnny’s song and the message, and performs his music with a youthful spirit that engages all audiences. Pioneer Place on Fifth. 320-203-0331

May 4, Nisswa
KFAN Golf Opener Tent Party: Live Music by Rock Godz
Attend the annual KFAN Golf Opener Tent Party and enjoy great food, beer and live music outside, under a large tent. Grand View Lodge Spa & Golf Course. 218-963-2234

May 4, Onamia
Loom Beading Workshop
Learn the art of loom beading through hands-on experience. Create a design, transfer it to a loom and learn how to adhere the loom work to leather or cloth for a finished piece. Online registration is required at least three days prior to workshop. Mille Lacs Indian Museum. 320-532-3632

May 11, Brainerd
Spring Arts and Craft Show
This is your chance to check out quality handmade items by more than 150 artists and craftspeople. Admission is free. Brainerd High School. 218-454-6926

May 11, Waite Park
Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story & Dinner
This is the true story of Buddy Holly’s meteoric rise to fame, from the moment in 1957 when “That’ll Be The Day” hit the airwaves until his tragic death less than two years later on “The Day The Music Died.” This rocking musical features over twenty of Buddy’s greatest hits, including “Peggy Sue,” “Oh Boy,” and “Rave On,” plus Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba” and the Big Bopper’s “Chantilly Lace.” The show lasts roughly 2 hours, plus 60 minutes for dinner. Helgeson Learning Lab Theatre. 320-258-2787

May 11-12, Brainerd
Cuyuna Rock, Gem & Mineral Society Rock Show
The Cuyuna Rock, Gem & Mineral Society will host roughly 70 indoor and outdoor vendors, as well as the Wheel of Rock Fortune, rock cutting, “rocky answers” by the Rock Wizard, speakers and presenters, a Kids’ Corner and great concessions. Buy, sell and trade! Crow Wing County Fairgrounds Curling Club Building. 218-829-4992

May 19, Sunburg
Syttende Mai Celebration
Attend the 15th Annual Syttende Mai Celebration filled with full, family events. Enjoy a Grand Day Parade at 3:30 p.m., along with a pedal tractor pull, quilt raffle, Sunburg Lakers Baseball Game, petting zoo, open mic at the Kultur Hus, non-denominational church service and more. Downtown Sunburg. 320-235-3552

Northwest Minnesota

April 12 – June 9, Moorhead
The FMVA BIG Art Show
For two months each spring, the artwork of the Fargo-Moorhead Visual Artists (FMVA) fills the 4th Floor Gallery at the Hjemkomst Center. Pieces from art educators, emerging artists and established artists make this one of the largest and most comprehensive local art shows in the region. Each piece is complemented with artist statements describing the creation’s influences, mediums used and process. Hjemkomst Center. 218-299-5511

April 25 – May 18, Moorhead
Theatre B Presents “Cry It Out”
Three new moms from different backgrounds bond over parenting babies. Seem simple? Well, friendship, marriage and careers are anything but simple in Cry It Out, a comedy with dark edges. Cry It Out takes an honest look at the absurdities of navigating women’s choices, family life and job security in modern day America. Theatre B. 701-729-8880

May 3, Detroit Lakes
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy blends a vibrant fusion of classic American jazz, swing and Dixieland, with the energy and spirit of contemporary culture. After 25 years together and countless appearances on film and TV, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy will show you that it’s still cool to swing! Historic Holmes Theatre. 218-844-7469

May 11, Bemidji
Northern Minnesota’s Largest Women’s Expo
The Sanford Center and Sanford Health are proud to present the 2nd Annual Northern Minnesota’s Largest Women’s Expo where women can relax and be pampered while they are inspired and empowered. Highlights include many special presentations, more than 50 craft and vendor booths, make-and-take tables, spirits tastings, entertainment on the patio, food trucks and more. A portion of all proceeds will be donated to local nonprofit organizations that support women and women’s initiatives including the United Way of Bemidji and Hands of Action International. Sanford Center, George W. Neilson Convention Center. 218-441-4000

May 11-18, Thief River Falls
Norwegian Heritage Week
Don’t miss out on the fun, daily events taking place during this week-long celebration of Syttende Mai, Norway’s Constitution Day. Just some of the many highlights include: Uff Da Day at Pioneer Village with Viking re-enactors, Scandinavian crafts, Lefse demonstrations, Norwegian songs, rommegrot, coffee and other Scandinavian treats; “Tomte and the Troll” at the United Methodist Church with a high-energy, interactive performance of this Nordic cultural fairy tale; Uff Da Challenge at Hartz Park, an adventure race for beginners and seasoned pros in the obstacle race world; and Bric-A-Brac Market honoring a long-standing Scandinavian tradition of flea markets with a wide variety of vendors sharing their vintage, junk, thrifted and handmade creations. Various locations throughout Thief River Falls. 218-686-0205

May 15-18, Detroit Lakes
Detroit Lakes Festival of Birds
Observe up to 275 species of birds during the 22nd Annual Festival of Birds! Witness the spring bird migration in a unique transition zone of tall-grass prairie, northern hardwood and conifer forests and wetlands in the Detroit Lakes area. The festival kicks off with “The Return of the Peregrine Falcon” by Carrol Henderson at Maplelag Resort, followed by weekend bird tours, a bazaar, exhibitors and presentations. 218-847-9202

Northeast Minnesota

April 26 – May 4, Duluth
Renegade Theater Presents: Birds of a Feather
Birds of a Feather recounts the story of Roy and Silo, the two Central Park Zoo chinstrap penguins who partnered, adopted an egg, hatched and raised a chick together. Roy and Silo are no strangers to the spotlight. In 2005, they were the subject of a widely contested children’s book, And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson. The book, temporarily pulled from school bookshelves in Loudoun County, became one of the most banned books in America. Zeitgeist Teatro Zuccone. 218-336-1417

May 3-5, Sandstone
Women’s Wellness & Adventure Weekend
Located on the shores of Grindstone Lake, the Audubon Center of the North Woods’ 535 acres of beautifully varied landscapes provide the perfect setting for this complete holistic adventure. Spend this weekend with your friends or take the opportunity to get away by yourself, meet new people, and learn new skills. Choose from a variety of mind, body & spirit activities, enjoy a massage, schedule a private reading or healing touch session, or just relax and take in nature. Audubon Center of the North Woods. 320-245-2648

May 3-5, Sandstone
Kettle River Paddle Festival
This paddling festival on the Kettle River brings together whitewater and flat water paddlers for a weekend of paddling fun. Participants and onlookers will enjoy river races, Whitewater Rodeo stunts and tricks, and Paddlers’ Party dinner and social. Bring your 14-foot raft, stand-up board, kayaks, canoes and dories, and join in the fun. All are welcome! Robinson Park on the Kettle River. 651-302-1774

May 11, Grand Rapids
Itasca Orchestra May Concert with the New Standards
The Twin Cities based Big Band Trio will be bringing their eclectic mix of music to perform with the Itasca Orchestra. Some of the musical selections include songs performed by Prince, Elvis Costello and the Clash. They are creating a worldwide following as they reinvent music performed by pop, funk and jazz musicians. Their exceptional musicianship and engaging performance will make this a show you won’t want to miss. Myles Reif Performing Arts Center. 218-327-5780

May 11, Two Harbors
Free Open House at Split Rock Lighthouse
Enjoy the beauty and history of Minnesota’s North Shore during a free open house day at Split Rock Lighthouse. Tour the light station and fog signal building. Stop by the visitor center to see exhibits on the North Shore’s tourism and commercial fishing industries and view a film about the early shipping industry on Lake Superior. 218-226-6372

May 11-26, Duluth
Winnie the Pooh
This honey-filled delight is as sweet as it is fun, based on the beloved characters of A.A. Milne. Winnie the Pooh is once again in search of honey. Along the way, he meets his pals, Tigger, Piglet, Rabbit and Owl, but soon discovers that Christopher Robin has been captured by the mysterious Backson! As they prepare for a rescue operation, the animals learn about teamwork, friendship and, of course, sharing snacks. Duluth Playhouse. 218-733-7555

May 18, Ely 
Ely’s Annual Citywide Rummage Sale and Business Crazy Day
Ely’s Citywide Rummage Sale and Business Crazy Day offers something for everyone with over 60 sales. You’ll find a variety of rummage sales around town and numerous unique shops and restaurants downtown will offer amazing deals! Throughout the city of Ely. 218-365-6123

May 19-26, Duluth
Duluth Dylan Fest
The 2019 Duluth Dylan Fest will include the Armory Arts & Music Center benefit concert, a Dylan-themed art show, poetry reading, a singer/songwriter contest, lectures by “Dylanologsts,” concerts and more. May 24, 2019 marks the 78th birthday of Duluth’s native son, Bob Dylan, 2016 Nobel Prize recipient. Venues throughout the city of Duluth. 218-391-6299

Be sure to visit the Deals section of ExploreMinnesota.com to learn of the latest discounts and specials!

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Minnesota Holiday Spirit: Tis the Season!

Winter in Minnesota is the perfect time of year to get together with loved ones, embrace old traditions, or even start some new ones. Here are just five of the many ways to make the most of this special season.


Bentleyville Tour of Lights

Bentleyville Tour of Lights, Duluth

A hallmark of the holiday season in Germany and Austria, holiday markets—called Christkindlmarkts—have made their way to Minnesota. Holidazzle will take place in Loring Park again this year and will feature more than 40 vendors selling ornaments, candles and other handcrafted gifts, as well as mulled wine and brats. Other highlights include fireworks, Santa visits, holiday movie screenings and free ice skating. The destination is open Thursdays-Sundays from Nov. 25 through Dec. 23 and is free to attend.

Holiday plays and performances are a tradition for many families this time of year. Festive favorites include “A Christmas Carol” at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and the Rochester Civic Theatre, a dozen iterations of “The Nutcracker,” from classic to hip-hop, and Christmas concerts by artists including Kat Perkins, Blind Boys of Alabama, Lorie Line and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

For light shows worth a drive, don’t miss Duluth’s Bentleyville Tour of Lights, the Kiwanis Holiday Lights in Mankato and the Trester Trolley Light Tours in Winona. New in 2016, “Bruce Munro: Winter Light at the Arboretum” is the first large-scale outdoor light display at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen.


Great gray owl in Duluth; photo by Amanda Burcar-Annis

Photo by Amanda Burcar Annis

Many of Minnesota’s nature centers are open year-round, offering opportunities to interact with wildlife and the winter landscape. Owls are a big draw at the Agassiz Audubon Center near Thief River Falls, which documented dozens of snowy owl sightings last year in the surrounding Red River Valley.

At the International Owl Center in southeastern Minnesota, Alice the resident great horned owl is so popular that the International Festival of Owls in early March is held in conjunction with her hatch day.

Since nature centers are often surrounded by trails, they make a great starting point for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or snowmobiling. Options include the River Bend Nature Center in Faribault (skiing and snowmobiling), Maplewood Nature Center (snowshoeing) and Hartley Nature Center in Duluth (skiing).


At the Science Museum of Minnesota in downtown St. Paul, “Mindbender Mansion” makes critical thinking and problem solving fun, and “A Beautiful Planet” is featured in the Omnitheater. Open until mid-January, the “Gridiron Glory” exhibit at the Minnesota History Center features the Vince Lombardi trophy and other artifacts from the Pro Football Hall of Fame. While you’re downtown, be sure to stop by Rice Park to see the ice sculptures and live entertainment as part of the Saint Paul Winter Carnival.

Other museums worth a winter visit include the Minnesota Marine Art Museum in Winona, the recently reopened Spam Museum in Austin, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, which recently debuted a new entrance and restaurant as part of its major renovation project.


Family Cascade Bay Water Park 440x440.jpgWaterslides, lazy rivers and splash pads aren’t just for the summer months. Several Minnesota water parks can be found indoors, offering a tropical escape no matter the weather.

Paul Bunyan Water Park, inside Arrowwood Lodge in Baxter, features tube and body slides, a treehouse equipped with water cannons and an indoor/outdoor hot tub. At the Edgewater Hotel & Waterpark in Duluth, a vortex pool allows guests to swim with or against a fast-moving current.

There’s even a waterpark right by Mall of America, so you can take a dip after completing all your holiday shopping. Find more options, from Bloomington to Alexandria to Thief River Falls, on the water parks page.


A sure sign that spring is coming, maple syrup demonstrations and festivals start cropping up in March. On Maple Syrup Day, the Audubon Center of the North Woods in Sandstone hosts a pancake brunch as part of its syrup celebration. Or see how the sap is gathered and turned into syrup, and get a taste of the end result, at the Wargo Nature Center in Lino Lakes.

Many Minnesota state parks, including Fort Snelling in St. Paul, Whitewater near St. Charles and Lake Maria near Monticello, offer maple syrup programs. Nature centers and other parks, like the Three Rivers Park District in the metro area, also get in on the fun.

Northern Minnesota Early Ice Fishing: Early ice is not safe, wear life jackets!

November 30, 2017

thin ice sign

With daytime temperatures still climbing above freezing even in the northern parts of the state, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is reminding outdoor enthusiasts to stay clear of early ice and use extreme caution when recreating on dangerously cold water. 

Although some locations in the northern and western regions of the state were reporting ice formation at the end of November, the recent fluctuations in weather have led to degraded ice conditions and warnings from public safety officials to stay off the ice until at least 4 inches of new, clear ice is present.

“No fish is worth the risk of going through thin ice,” said DNR conservation officer Lt. Adam Block. “At this point, it is going to take several consecutive days of below-freezing temperatures before enough solid ice has formed to support foot traffic, and even longer before ATVs  and snowmobiles should be on the ice.”

A recent tragedy occurred in northern Minnesota when two anglers lost their lives after breaking through thin ice on their ATV. Several emergency ice rescues have also taken place over the last few weeks. Last winter, two people died after breaking through the ice.

Block stressed that once ice formation picks up again, it will be important to stay vigilant about safety on the ice, since conditions can be unpredictable and vary greatly even on the same body of water.

“In addition to checking conditions locally and being prepared with an ice safety kit, anyone recreating on hard water should be wearing a life jacket,” Block said. “A life jacket is the one piece of equipment that exponentially increases your odds of not drowning from cold water shock, hypothermia or exhaustion should you fall through the ice.”

General ice safety guidelines:

No ice can ever be considered “safe ice,” but following these guidelines can help minimize the risk:

  • Carry ice picks, rope, an ice chisel and tape measure
  • Check ice thickness at regular intervals – conditions can change  quickly.
  • Bring a cell phone or personal locator beacon.
  • Don’t go out alone; let someone know the plan and expected return time.
  • Always wear a life jacket on the ice (except when in a vehicle).
  • Before heading out, inquire about conditions and known hazards with local experts.

The minimum ice thickness guidelines for new, clear ice are:

  • 4 inches for ice fishing or other activities on foot.
  • 5-7 inches for a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle.
  • 8-12 inches for a car or small pickup.
  • 12-15 inches for a medium truck.
  • Double these minimums for white or snow-covered ice.

Open water danger
The lack of ice cover means many bodies of water in the state still have open water accessible to boaters. However, late season anglers, boaters and paddlers are cautioned that a life jacket is an absolute must on cold water.

“A fall into extremely cold water can incapacitate you within seconds,” said Lisa Dugan, DNR recreation safety outreach coordinator. “Air temperatures have been relatively mild, but don’t let that deceive you. Water temperatures are dangerously cold across the entire state, which means it’s more important than ever to wear that life jacket.”

State statistics show that one-third of boating fatalities typically occur during the “cold water season,” and that in the vast majority of cases the cause of death is drowning due to not wearing a life jacket.

So far in 2017, three boaters have died on cold water, and 12 total boating fatalities have been reported.

“The last three years boaters have enjoyed extended seasons with mild fall temperatures and early ice out in the spring,” Dugan said. “With increased days on the water came higher fatality numbers and a dangerous trend, which should not be ignored. Ten of the 12 deaths involved male boaters who sadly drowned while not wearing a life jacket. This is a continuing and troubling trend that will only plateau or reverse if boaters in that high-risk demographic choose to put safety first by putting on their life jacket.”

For more information, visit mndnr.gov/icesafety and mndnr.gov/boatingsafety.

Cold?…Here’s 5 Hot Drinks for Winter Weather!

Hot Cocoa - Photo by Angelica King
Photo by Angelica King

After hitting the slopes, riding the trails or attending an outdoor festival in Minnesota this winter, sipping something warm will taste twice as delicious. Minnesotans are no strangers to creative hot beverages, and there are generally some tempting options to wrap your hands around no matter what part of the state you’re in. Here are five hot drinks to keep you warm this winter:


There’s nothing quite like a mug of hot cocoa when the mercury dips below freezing. And while the old-fashioned standard is a comforting favorite, there are shops around Minnesota playing with the beverage, updating it and tricking it out with some new features. Take, for example, St. Paul’s Golden Fig local foods store, where one of the house blends includes cinnamon, ginger, cardamom,and a host of other spices; it’s known as “Bombay Cocoa,” and it evokes chai tea with a chocolatey kick. A percentage of every bag sold goes to organizations that support women coffee growers in their country of origin, and the company sources its beans from female growers whenever possible.


Coffee is not merely coffee. Good coffees are often the product of great stories, like the one behind City Girl Coffee from Alakef. After taking over her family’s 25-year-old Duluth-based roasting company, Alakef owner Alyza Bohbot created City Girl as a sustainable coffee company dedicated to empowering women in the coffee industry. A percentage of every bag sold goes to organizations that support women coffee growers in their country of origin, and the company sources its beans from female growers whenever possible.


If you grew up drinking the hot cocktail known as a Tom and Jerry, you have some sense of why it’s a such a good friend to those of us living in northern states. And if you didn’t, it’s time to get acquainted with this slice of Upper Midwestern beverage culture. According to the Dictionary of International Food and Cooking Terms (Myra Waldo, 1967), a Tom and Jerry is “a hot frothy alcoholic drink made with beaten egg yolks, stiffly beaten egg whites, rum, sugar, boiling water, bourbon and spices, served in mugs with a sprinkling of nutmeg.” As per an authoritative story about the cocktail, “most modern aficionados replace the water with milk and the bourbon with brandy.”

You can buy Tom and Jerry mix at stores, but if you can’t find it, there’s a great recipe for the cocktail online.


Anelace Latte_Becca Dilley
Photo by Becca Dilley

There’s nothing like a finely crafted coffee drink, particularly when the weather goes polar on you. Anelace Coffee, on Central Avenue in Minneapolis, makes some of the most beautifully balanced and smooth coffee drinks in the state. The use of a bit of cardamom syrup gives this latte a Nordic-inspired wintry flavor that is incomparable when the snow starts to fly.


Minnesota is a great state for apples: The climate and soil are friendly to the fruit, and the University of Minnesota has done a great deal to ensure new and delicious varietals keep popping up in markets around the country. Most cafes will offer hot cider of some sort, particularly in the autumn through early winter months. And if you’re interested in something a bit stronger that still packs an apple punch, you can find ambitious artisan hard ciders from makers all over the state, including Milk and Honey Ciders (Cold Spring), Keepsake Cidery (Dundas) and Four Daughters Vineyard and Winery (Spring Valley).

Find Minnesota coffee shops and other places to sip in our Drink & Eat directory.

The Northern Lights of Bentleyville!

Bentleyville Tour of Lights, Duluth

Each winter, the Bentleyville Tour of Lights transforms the Bayfront Festival Park in Duluth into an illuminated winter wonderland with colorful displays and holiday music. Dubbed “America’s Largest Free Walk-Through Lighting Display,” Bentleyville’s festive display features more than 4 million lights. The 2017 event will also feature the #OnlyinMN monument.  http://whitebirchresort.net

Bentleyville’s 12-story Christmas tree is more than twice the height of the one in Rockefeller Center and is covered with 100,000 LED lights that dance to holiday music. Using more than 5.5 miles of rope light, festive displays include Sesame Street, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys, Minnesota icons such as Split Rock Lighthouse, Duluth’s Aerial Lift Bridge, Paul Bunyan, Babe the Blue Ox and more.

Bentleyville Christmas Tree

As you stroll through the festive display, visitors can sip on hot cocoa, munch on popcorn or roast marshmallows over a campfire. Children have the opportunity to visit Santa and Mrs. Claus every night.

The spectacle runs from Nov. 18 through Dec. 26, 2017. The show is free, but monetary donations are appreciated. Guests are also encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy or non-perishable food items for the Salvation Army.

Parking is available in front of Bayfront Festival Park. Visitors are encouraged to use the free Jingle Bus shuttle service that is available at multiple locations throughout the city or board the festive Bentleyville Train that arrives from the Edgewater Hotel & Water Park.

Nearby family attractions include the Great Lakes AquariumLake Superior ZooSpirit Mountain Ski and Recreation Area, and numerous restaurants and hotels.

7-Northern Minnesota Snow-Filled Fun Activities!

There’s no escape from winter, but a winter escape is fun and easy. From skiing to snowmobiling and urban adventures, options for snowy recreation are practically endless in Minnesota. So, take advantage of nature’s gift to the north. The snow will be gone before you know it.  For more information contact us at  http://whitebirchresort.net


Cross Country Ski Trail 440x440Minnesota is known for its great cross-country skiing, with more than 2,000 miles of dedicated trails to explore. In addition to day trips, cross-country ski resorts offer great meals, comfortable lodging, saunas and spas to round out the experience. Trails in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, near Ely and along the Gunflint Trail, are among the state’s top destinations for serious skiers.

Snow is most reliable in the northern half of the state, but good cross-country skiing can be found everywhere. In fact, snow-making machines are employed at several Minneapolis-St. Paul area trails to ensure quality conditions. More than two dozen Minnesota state parks provide groomed trails, and some rent skis.


Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn learned to ski in Minnesota, but even novices can take advantage of the state’s 16 downhill ski areas. In addition to big hills, many areas also feature terrain parks for ski and snowboard tricks, as well as cross-country ski trails.

Northeast Minnesota is home to the Midwest’s largest, longest and highest hills. Long runs and scenic vistas are memory makers. Ski areas in central and southern Minnesota also offer picturesque, high-quality experiences. Many are gracefully carved into towering river bluffs and broad forested valleys.

Minneapolis-St. Paul area visitors have several downhill ski areas within a 90-minute drive. Visitors to other parts of the state have plenty of choices, too. Equipment rentals and lessons are available at most ski destinations.


Snowmobilers 399 x 600Minnesota has nearly as many miles of snowmobile trails(roughly 22,000) as it does highways. These trails, many of which are maintained by local snowmobile clubs, extend to all corners of the state. Many trails run through picturesque federal, state and county forests, and can take riders to restaurants, lodging, and other popular amenities. Weekly trail condition updates are available by email.


Minnesota’s panfish season never closes, and walleye, northern pike and other seasons extend deep into winter. As a result, fishing continues to be one of Minnesota’s most popular outdoor activities long after waves have turned to ice.

Ice fishing’s ongoing allure, in part, stems from ice house improvements. Safe and reliable heaters, grills and comfortable beds are all part of the modern ice fishing experience. Warm, lifelong memories are often forged from nature’s northern lights, stunning sunsets and the hushed silence of winter.

Popular lakes for ice fishing include Leech, Gull, Mille Lacs, Lake of the Woods and more. Ice fishing festivals on these and other lakes are tons of fun, even if you’re not fishing.


Cuyuna-Fat-Biking-1The skinny on fat tire mountain biking is that Minnesota offers outstanding options. One of the most notable is the rugged and hilly Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area, where winter trails slice and curve through forests and lake country. In many ways, Cuyuna isn’t a trail; it’s an experience.

Several state parks now offer winter mountain biking opportunities thanks to the sport’s increasing popularity. So do park systems in the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Duluth and Winona areas, with more opening up every year.


Dog sledding is one of the most fun and unusual ways to experience winter. People of all ages and physical abilities can do it, and trips can be tailored to your comfort level. Short trips, day trips, overnight trips, and trips that include ice fishing are among the many iterations available.

Lodging options also vary. You can spend the night in a cozy cabin or in a yurt—an insulated tent-like shelter.

The primary destination for this sport is the Boundary Waters, but outfitters can also be found in Duluth, along the North Shore, and even in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.


Instructor teaching people how to walk in snowshoesFor those who want to enjoy the snow with something other than skis on their feet, snowshoeing is a great, low-impact activity. Snowshoe rentals and trails are common in state and local park systems, including those in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Many nature centers provide snowshoe rentals and trails, too.

Minnesota weekend activities.

Check out the great Minnesota resort deals and activities at White Birch Resort. www.whitebirchresort.net

Bentleyville Tour of Lights fireworks display; photo by Ronny Purba

Event highlights this week include:

Nov. 18, Harmony
Holiday Fest Art, Craft and Gift Expo

Nov. 17-19, Blaine
Hard Water Ice Fishing Expo

Nov. 24 – Dec. 3, Little Falls
Little Falls Christmas Tours

Nov. 18, Moorhead
Pangea – Cultivate Our Cultures

Nov. 15 – Dec. 26, Duluth
Bentleyville “Tour of Lights”

And with more than 440 theaters throughout Minnesota, there is a performance for every taste — learn more through the Explore MN Theater promotion!


[Northeast] [Northwest] [Central] [Twin Cities] [Southern]

Southern Minnesota

Nov. 11 – Dec. 17 (Thursdays through Sundays), Rochester
Mayowood Mansion Christmas Tours
Tours will begin at the History Center with light refreshments and a film about Mayowood and the Mayo family. Visitors will then ride a trolley up to the mansion and receive a guided tour lasting about one hour. Reservations are required. Historic Mayowood Mansion. 507-282-9447

Nov. 17, Redwood Falls
Christmas by Candlelight & Lights Parade
Kick Off the holiday season in the Redwood Falls area with Christmas by Candlelight and enjoy an Open House at Scenic City Reality, the opening of the new Backdoor Art Gallery, a High School Student Art Show, Tree of Lights Ceremony, and the annual Holiday Parade of Lights. Also check out Beneath the Village Wreath in nearby Morton, Nov. 17-19507-637-2828507-697-6912

Nov. 18, Harmony
Holiday Fest Art, Craft and Gift Expo
Get a jump start on your holiday shopping at the Holiday Fest Art, Craft and Gift Expo featuring a variety of handcrafted and brand name goods buy more than 50 vendors in 2 gyms, along with performances and a fashion show. Fillmore Central School. 507-886-2469

Nov. 18, Austin
Hormel Historic Holiday Open House Soup with Santa and Holiday Open House Soup & Spirits
This fun family event features a tour of the elegant home of the George A. Hormel family stylishly decorated for Christmas, and the opportunity to enjoy soup with Santa. That evening, tour the 1871 home all decorated for the season, and enjoy soup and appetizers. Cash bar will be available. Hormel Historic Home. 507-433-4243

Nov. 24, New Ulm
Parade of Lights
New Ulm welcomes Santa to town during the 29th Annual Parade of Lights. Featured are over 60 brightly lit units with thousands of twinkling lights traveling through historic downtown New Ulm all decked out with Christmas trees and garland. Children of all ages will delight in this event! While in New Ulm, check out all of the sales and specials offered by downtown merchants. 507-233-4300

Nov. 24 – Dec. 31, Mankato 
Kiwanis Holiday Lights
This year’s attractions include a display of over 1.5 million LED lights, animated light displays, skating rink and warming house, horse-drawn wagon rides, Santa Claus, live reindeer, ice sculptures and more at Sibley Park. And don’t miss the Kiwanis Holiday Lights Opening Parade on Friday, Nov. 24 beginning with a brief lighting ceremony. Mound Ave. to Rogers St. to Sibley Park. 507-385-9129

Nov. 30 – Dec. 2, Owatonna
Hometown Holiday Weekend
Start the holiday season with the Hometown Holiday Weekend and enjoy a weekend filled with events and activities for the entire family! Highlights include Christmas in the Village at the History Center and Village of Yesteryear, and Historical Holiday House Tours with live music and cookie decorating. 507-451-7970

Minneapolis-St. Paul Area

Oct. 28 – Dec. 30, Minneapolis
The Dinner Detective Interactive Murder Mystery Show
The Dinner Detective is a unique, high-energy interactive murder mystery dinner theater experience that combines an engaging modern-day whodunit with a full four course meal. Courtyard Minneapolis Downtown. 866-496-0535

Nov. 4-18, Minneapolis
Healthy Life Expo
This is the largest health, wellness and fitness show in the Upper Midwest with nearly 200 local and national exhibitors showcasing everything to help you look and feel your best. Visitors will also enjoy the many speakers, seminars and demonstrations on three stages. Minneapolis Convention Center. 952-238-1700

Nov. 17, Prior Lake
Jeff Foxworthy
Comedian Jeff Foxworthy brings his all-American humor to the Mystic Showroom. Mystic Lake Casino Hotel. 952-496-6563

Nov. 17-19, Chanhassen
Rainy Days & Mondays: The Music of the Carpenters
Don’t miss this stellar tribute to The Carpenters, the biggest selling soft-rock group of the ’70s. Aimee Lee, the quintessential “Karen,” is backed by 12 musicians and back-up singers who perfectly re-create the classic Carpenters sound. Chanhassen Dinner Theatre. 952-934-1525

Nov. 17-19, Blaine
Hard Water Ice Fishing Expo
If you’re itching to start the ice fishing season, attend the Hard Water Fishing Expo at the National Sports Center in Blaine where exhibitors will showcase the latest ice fishing gear including rods, reels, tackle, shelters, wheelhouses, sleds and more. Also enjoy seminars from your favorite Clam Ice Team pros. National Sports Center. 763-785-5601

Nov. 17-19, Stillwater
Christmas at the Courthouse Gala & Bazaar
Experience the splendor of the holiday season at the 25th Annual Christmas at the Courthouse! Indulge the senses at the Friday evening Gala Preview event and sample wine, beer, and light hors d’oeuvres from local vendors while getting a sneak peek at the holiday bazaar. Bring the family on Saturday and Sunday to shop for the perfect gift at the Holiday Bazaar, purchase locally made treats at the Holiday Bake Shop, listen to live music, and take free photos with Santa in his workshop. Washington County Historic Courthouse. 651-275-7075

Nov. 17-19, Minneapolis
Harvest Jam Acoustic Music Experience
This indoor music festival features numerous groups performing bluegrass, old-time stringband and related forms of acoustic music. Enjoy nightly stage shows, a Saturday afternoon band contest, Saturday banquet dinner, Saturday band development workshops, open mic in Kips Irish Pub, Sunday morning gospel show, and jams sessions throughout! Marriott Minneapolis West in Golden Valley. 800-635-3037

Nov. 22 – Dec. 30, Waconia
Spirit of Winter Solar Powered Holiday Light Show
The Spirit of Winter is a fabulous light show with synchronized music and animated displays. All ages are welcome to attend and stroll through our grounds and 12 attractions. The Winery at Sovereign Estate. 952-446-9957

Nov. 22 – Dec. 31, St. Paul
Christmas Traditions Guided House Tour
Discover holiday celebrations of the past through the stories of those who lived and worked on Summit Avenue, including excerpts from Hill family letters and journals and rare historic photographs of the neighborhood. James J. Hill House. 651-297-2555

Nov. 24-26, St. Paul
Hmong New Year
This annual three-day celebration of the Hmong culture includes great food, dance, live entertainment, a beauty pageant, awards ceremony, special guests and fun community interaction. St. Paul RiverCentre. 651-265-4800

Nov. 24 – Dec. 23 (Thursdays through Sundays), Minneapolis
Highlights include Holidazzle Fireworks Displays, Holidazzle Movie Nights, Kid Zone, visits with Santa Claus, skating, interactive and illuminated Art Wolf and Moose installations, daily entertainment on the Holidazzle Stage, and great food, drink and merchandise vendors. Loring Park. 612-376-7669

Upcoming Twin Cities’ concerts and performances:
Jeff Foxworthy at Mystic Lake Casino Hotel in Prior Lake, Nov. 17
PJ Masks Live: Time to Be a Hero at the Historic State Theatre in Minneapolis, Nov. 17
REO Speedwagon at Treasure Island Resort & Casino in Welch, Nov. 17
Trevor Noah at the Historic Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, Nov. 17
Halsey: Hopeless Fountain Kingdom at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Nov. 18
Kansas – The Leftoverture 40th Anniversary Tour at the Historic State Theatre, Nov. 18
Lee Brice at Treasure Island Resort & Casino, Nov. 18
A Charlie Brown Christmas Live On Stage at the Ames Center, Nov. 19
The Hip Hop Nutcracker at the Historic State Theatre, Nov. 21-22
Waitress at the Orpheum Theatre, Nov. 21-26
A Perfect Circle at the Xcel Energy Center, Nov. 25
Cirque Dreams Holidaze (Touring) at Mystic Lake Casino Hotel, Nov. 25 – Dec. 3
Katy Perry – Witness the Tour at the Xcel Energy Center, Dec. 1
The New Standards at the Historic State Theatre in Minneapolis, Dec. 1
Monster Jam at the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Dec. 2
Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker at the Historic Orpheum Theatre, Dec. 2
Brain Candy Live with Adam Savage & Michael Stevens at the Historic Orpheum Theatre, Dec. 3
KDWB’s Jingle Ball: Fall Out Boy & Guests at the Xcel Energy Center, Dec. 4
Evanescence – Synthesis Live with Orchestra at the Historic State Theatre, Dec. 5
Lindsey Stirling – Warmer in the Winter Christmas Tour at the Historic Orpheum Theatre, Dec. 7
Marvel Universe Live – Age of Heroes at the Xcel Energy Center, Dec. 7-10
Loverboy and Night Ranger at Treasure Island Resort & Casino, Dec. 8
NEEDTOBREATHE – All The Feels Tour (Acoustic) at the Historic State Theatre, Dec. 8
The Blenders 2017 Holiday Soul Tour at the Pantages Theatre in Minneapolis, Dec. 8-10
Celtic Thunder – 2017 Symphony Tour at the Historic State Theatre, Dec. 9
Joe Biden’s American Promise Tour at the Historic Orpheum Theatre, Dec. 9
Tonic Sol-Fa: I Still Believe Tour at the Ames Center, Dec. 12
The Phantom of the Opera at the Historic Orpheum Theatre, Dec. 13-31
The Oak Ridge Boys Christmas Show at Treasure Island Resort & Casino, Dec. 15
Loyce Houlton’s Nutcracker Fantasy at the Historic State Theatre, Dec. 15-23
Terry Fator at Treasure Island Resort & Casino, Dec. 16
Tickets available through Eventful or Ticketmaster

Central Minnesota

Nov. 18, Little Falls
The Marketplace
The Sprout Growers & Makers Marketplace is an indoor, year-round market that connects local food vendors and artists with residents and tourists. This month’s Marketplace will spotlight the Latino culture with growers, makers, artists and performers. Crestliner Building. 320-412-3081

Nov. 18, St. Cloud
Made in Minnesota Expo
Discover all the great featured businesses who are based out of Minnesota or who produce their products right here in Minnesota. This is also a great holiday shopping opportunity as many of the businesses will have products for sale. Get a free photo souvenir from the Social Expressions Selfies photo booth, sample items from various vendors such as beer and hot dish! River’s Edge Convention Center. 320-257-7224

Nov. 18-19, Onamia
Ojibwe Mitten 2-Day Workshop
Learn techniques of working with leather to make a pair of Ojibwe-style mittens during this two-day workshop. A light lunch and refreshments will be provided both days. Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post. 320-532-3632

Nov. 24 – Dec. 3, Little Falls
Little Falls Christmas Tours
Start your holiday season in Little Falls with 4 fabulous Christmas tours. Check out the Linden Hill Mansion with a “Let there be Peace on Earth” theme, the Rosenmeier Home with a “Nutcracker” theme, and self-guided tours of the Musser and Weyerhauser mansions. Step back in time with a costumed interpreter and experience the holidays of 100 years ago at the Charles A. Lindbergh House, and don’t miss over 30 decorated trees and holiday displays at the Minnesota Fishing Museum. 320-616-4959

Nov. 25, Wadena 
Christmas Festival
This one day Christmas Festival features roughly 100 crafters and vendors, live music, great food, a special visit from Santa & Mrs. Claus, and carriage rides. Wadena Elementary School Gymnasium. 218-632-7704

Dec. 2-3, Onamia
Sweetgrass Basket 2-Day Workshop
Learn the art of making a coil sweetgrass basket in this two-day workshop. Sweetgrass is a fragrant sacred herb used in ceremonies and artwork by the Ojibwe. Refreshments and a light lunch will be provided on both days. Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post. 320-532-3632

Northwest Minnesota

Nov. 15 – Jan. 28, Bemidji
Fur Trade in Minnesota
Hundreds of years ago, Minnesota played a key role in the fur trade, which stretched across five continents. This traveling exhibit, rich with activities and objects, shows how plentiful furbearers brought together native people, explorers and international trade. Visitors to the exhibit can lift a 45-pound Voyageur’s pack, learn how the fur trade shaped Ojibwe art and discover how beaver pelts could be transformed into sleek, stately hats that were all the rage among wealthy Europeans. Beltrami County Historical Society. 218-444-3376

Nov. 17, Detroit Lakes
Minnesota Music Coalition- The Belfast Cowboys, Jadyn James and Big Wave Dave & the Ripples
Hear some of Minnesota’s best up-and-coming artists through the Minnesota Music Coalition music series, Caravan du Nord. Historic Holmes Theatre. 218-844-7469

Nov. 18, Moorhead
Pangea – Cultivate Our Cultures
The 23rd Annual Pangea – Cultivate Our Cultures event embraces the diverse cultures of the area through a wide variety of cultural performances, samples of delicious foods, and information about friends’ and families’ backgrounds. In between, visit vendors selling world goods, explore our museum exhibitions, and get to know the fantastic diversity of the community. The Hjemkomst Center. 218-299-5511

Nov. 24-25, Walker
Festival of Lights Parade and Reindeer Ramble
During the Festival of Lights enjoy a parade, the lighting of the city, Reindeer Ramble run, children’s party, horse and wagon rides, Holiday Pow Wow, and more in downtown Walker. 218-547-1313

Nov. 25, East Grand Forks
North Country Fiddle & Dance Fall 2017 Series
The North Country Fiddle and Dance Community Dance Series presents The O’Neils with reels, jigs, circles and squares, all taught to live music. East Grand Forks Eagles Club. 218-45-9111

Dec. 2, Ulen
Sinatra & Company: “That Holiday Feeling”
“That Holiday Feeling” by Sinatra & Company is a fun-filled variety holiday show featuring the talents of award-winning vocalist Tim Patrick, accomplished singer and producer Colleen Raye, and top-notch big-band vocalist Debbie O’Keefe. Each brings their own brand of talent and charisma to the stage. You’ll hear wonderful renditions of your holiday favorites put to music by musical director Todd Matheson and the 10-piece Blue Eyes Band. Ulen-Hitterdal School. 218-596-8853

Northeast Minnesota

Nov. 15 – Dec. 26, Duluth
Bentleyville “Tour of Lights”
Come see Bayfront Festival Park on the shores of Lake Superior as it has been transformed into America’s largest free walk through light show! Visitors will be amazed at the magical atmosphere of lights and holiday music floating through the air. One of the main attractions is the animated 12-story steel Christmas tree and ball which is covered with over 150,000 sparkling LED lights! Also enjoy free admission, free visits with Santa Claus, cookies, hot chocolate, marshmallows, and popcorn! Bayfront Festival Park. 218-740-3535

Nov. 17-19, Grand Marais
Winterer’s Gathering & Arctic Film Festival
Celebrate the crafts, customs, landscape, history and stories of winter travel and traditional life ways in the North with more than a dozen winter courses, artic films, winter tent camp, gear swap, dancing, speakers, Coldsnap Poetry Slam, Deep Freeze Chili Feed, Snowshoe Shuffle, and more! North House Folk School. 218-387-9762

Nov. 18, Chisholm
Artisan Market: Crafts to Crops
A variety of local artisans will be selling home decor, candles, knitted items, kitchen towels, photography, and much more during Artisan Market: Crafts to Crops. Free admission with a non-perishable food item. Minnesota Discovery Center. 218-254-7959

Nov. 18 – Jan. 7, Duluth
A Glensheen Christmas
A Glensheen Christmas Classic Tour is your chance to explore the mansion decked out for the holidays with more than 25 Christmas trees and hundreds of feet of garland. Start your experience in the Carriage House before making your way to the mansion where the tallest of Glensheen’s Christmas trees proudly towers beyond the first floor. Challenge yourself to find all the hidden elves while Christmas music envelops the living room. In the kitchen, sample a Christmas cookie recreated from Clara’s very own recipe. Finish your tour by exploring the grounds of Glensheen. On Dec. 2-3, also enjoy Duluth Winter Village with more than 30 local businesses set up in wooden cabins lining the grounds of Glensheen, along with local food, beer, music, live animals and children’s activities, fire pits and s’mores! Glensheen Mansion. 218-726-8910

Nov. 23 & 25, Ely
Northwoods Partners Festival of Trees & Small Town Christmas & Ely’s Holiday Parade
The 15th Annual Festival of Trees transforms the lobby of the Grand Ely Lodge into a winter wonderland. The Festival of Trees opens at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving evening with the Lighting Ceremony, refreshments & entertainment. The festival also includes a Christmas Boutique with a wonderful selection of handmade gift items, Memorial Balls, and a silent auction for decorated trees and wreaths. While in Ely on Nov. 25, kick-off the holiday season with a parade, City Tree Lighting, hot cocoa or cider, cookies, carolers and activities in Whiteside Park. 218-365-6565, 218-365-6123

Nov. 25, Duluth
Native American Heritage Day at the Depot
November is Native American Heritage Month. Check out the exhibit Why Treaties Matter, and enjoy children’s activities such as loom beading and basket construction, speakers, fry bread, and a performance by the Cedar Creek Drum Group out of Fond du Lac. Great Hall at the St. Louis County Heritage & Arts Center & Depot. 218-733-7583

Dec. 2, Grand Rapids
Christmas in the Logging Camp & Winterglo Festival
The Forest History Center’s recreated 1900s logging camp comes to life under a blanket of snow during this annual event. Join the camp crew as they prepare for Christmas with choral singers, storytellers, sleigh rides, hot chocolate, cider and more. Bring your camera to get your picture taken with Santa. And don’t miss Grand Rapids Winterglo Festival held Dec. 2-3 in downtown Grand Rapids. Festivities include Breakfast with Santa, Bethany Lutheran Church Holiday Bazaar, Granny’s Attic, Christmas Craft Marketplace, bingo, live music, and much more! 218-327-4482, 218-326-9607


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State Fair is arounf the corner!

The Minnesota State Fair is known for foods on a stick, adorable baby animals, great concerts and those infamous butter sculptures. This year’s event, held Aug. 24-Sept. 4, is no exception.

In addition to offering the old standbys, the 2017 get-together has plenty of new exhibits and edibles, including the Great Big Wheel, the tallest traveling Ferris wheel in North America. Sports fans will enjoy the NHL Centennial Fan Arena that celebrates 100 years of unforgettable NHL moments with memorabilia, a virtual reality Zamboni experience and an opportunity to see the Stanley Cup.

Visit the West End Market, a one-of-a-kind destination that celebrates the spirit of the Great Minnesota Get-Together. The area includes the Minnesota State Fair History & Heritage Center, showcasing treasured artifacts and photographs that highlight the fair’s 150+ years of history.

Thrill seekers of all ages will find dozens of rides in the Mighty Midway and Kidway including the new Clown Around ride that takes little ones for a spin. For the grown-ups, the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild sells flights of local beers, experts host demos on gardening and eco-living, and merchants sell everything from handcrafted pottery to accessories made of bicycle parts. If you like to knit, visit Minnesota’s largest yarnbomb – a form of street art featuring crocheted, knitted and other crafted yarn creations on the Grandstand ramp.

State Fair cheese curds_square

Music fans of all kinds will find artists they love playing at the Grandstand; this year’s lineup features Nickelback (Aug. 24), Stevie Nicks (Aug. 25), comedian Jim Gaffigan (Aug. 26), Toby Keith with special guest 3 Doors Down (Aug.  27), Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons (Aug. 28), John Mellencamp (Aug. 29), Pentatonix (Aug. 30), Usher (Aug. 31), Garrison Keillor (Sept. 1), and country star Sam Hunt (Sept. 4).

It wouldn’t be the State Fair without indulging in some one-of-a-kind foods. Mini donuts, cheese curds, French fries, corn dogs and chocolate chip cookies are among the staples, as well as more than 60 things on a stick. Some new dishes for 2017 include duck bacon wontons, deep-fried avocado, cranberry wild rice meatballs and a pizzarito. Discover your favorite with the fair’s online Food Finder.

18-Free Things to do on Vacation in Minnesota

Going on vacation doesn’t have to mean spending a lot of money. In Minnesota, there are plenty of attractions and activities that are completely free to visitors. Here are 18 of them:


munsinger gardenThis well-known, beautiful garden park is located along the Mississippi River in St. Cloud. The Munsinger portion of the gardens began in the 1880s. The gardens have experienced different stages of development, with many of the improvements coming as a result of work during the Great Depression through the WPA. The Clemens portion is dedicated to different varieties of roses. During the summer, there are free music concerts within the gardens.


Artspace has transformed the former Franklin Junior High School building into a multipurpose arts center, with 25 affordable live/work studios for individuals and families; 37,775 square feet for artist studios, arts organizations and arts-friendly businesses; and 36,247 square feet that are operated by the Brainerd School District as community programs space. You can visit and learn from local and resident artist and craftsmen. The facility is open to the public daily and also hosts special events the second Saturday of the month.


The new and improved Spam Museum opened in spring 2016, featuring interactive exhibits and galleries dedicated to the infamous canned ham’s history, popularity and place in modern life, as well as Spam-inspired artwork and a kids play area.


Experience the history of Marvin Windows and Doors in the Wm. S. Marvin Training and Visitor Center. The 6,000-square-foot museum and gift shop are open to the public from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 1-4 p.m. on weekends. Exhibits include a combination of artifacts and interactive presentations to create a memorable experience for visitors of all ages.


pipe statue

Located in the old Rock Island Depot in Pipestone, it is on the Historic Register and is one of a very few buildings made of yellow brick. It houses the Pipemakers gift shop, Indian art gallery and displays of Indian items. Open year-round.


Minnesota has around 200 disc golf courses, and most are free to play. For a complete listing of all disc golf courses in Minnesota, go to pdga.com.


Walk through one of Minnesota’s last covered bridges. Measuring nearly 120 feet long and 15 feet wide, it was built in 1869 and crosses the Zumbro River.


minneapolis skylineAs the only urban national scenic byway, Minneapolis’ Grand Rounds attests to the exceptional qualities of its host city. The byway is truly in the heart of Minneapolis, with many impressive views of the downtown skyline, yet is as green, lush and lined with waterways like most of our rural byways. Enjoy walking, running, biking or Rollerblading along the 50-mile route.


One of the country’s largest urban sculpture parks, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden features more than 40 works of art and the Cowles Conservatory. The garden will reopen this June after extensive renovations, bringing back the playful “Spoonbridge and Cherry” as well as 18 holes of artist-designed mini golf.


This cultural attraction is regularly ranked among the top 10 comprehensive U.S. art museums. Admission, as always, is free.


polar bearComo Zoo features indoor and outdoor exhibits, including large cats, primates, polar bears and aquatic animals. The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory has permanent tropical and changing seasonal plants and flowers, as well as the new Japanese garden. Donations are accepted.


Operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, this is the most-visited marine museum on the Great Lakes. 1,000-foot freighters pass within 200 feet of the building. Open daily throughout shipping season.


The Superior Hiking Trail is a 300-mile hiking trail that follows the rocky ridge line above Lake Superior. Great for both day hikes and backpack camping.


The Gitchi-Gami State Trail connects Two Harbors to Grand Marais along the North Shore of Lake Superior. This 86-mile trail will eventually connect five state parks, several communities, four Scientific and Natural Areas and numerous historic sites, and provides vistas of Lake Superior.


sculpture garden

Open 365 days a year, this artists’ residency in the St. Croix River Valley features more than 100 large-scale sculptures scattered across 25 acres. Free guided tours are offered on Sundays in summer and fall.


This 45-foot-tall carillon tower in downtown New Ulm plays programmed music three times a day, when the clock’s animated figurines come to life. The characters are replaced by a nativity scene during the holiday season.


Located inside the flagship store in downtown Red Wing, the museum features the world’s largest boot, brand memorabilia, and a chance to dress like a iron worker and learn more about how the famous shoes are made.


paul and babeSnap a photo with folklore’s favorite lumberjack and his trusty steed, Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. The pair can be found in Bemidji, but they also stand tall in Brainerd, Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Akeley and elsewhere throughout the state.

Minnesota Events: The Land of 10,000 Lakes

Highlights this week and weekend include Rochester WinterFest X in Rochester, the 126th Annual St. Paul Winter Carnival in St. Paul, the 9th Annual Crosslake WinterFest in Crosslake, the 29th Annual Buena Vista Logging Days at Buena Vista Ski Area in Bemidji, and the Ely Winter Festival in Ely.
Please Note: previous warm temperatures and a lack of snow may result in changes to outdoor events and activities–please call ahead before traveling.whitebirchresort.net
This report is brought to you by Explore Minnesota Tourism.
Check out our events calendar for more information on many of these and other upcoming events.
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Southern Minnesota
The city of Rochester will hold Rochester WinterFest X from Thursday, February 2 through Sunday, February 12 to promote winter activities for all ages while raising awareness and funds for area nonprofit organizations. Just some of the highlights this Saturday, February 4 include a Warm-Up to the Polar Plunge, WinterFest sleigh rides and bonfire at the History Center, the Channel One ‘Mile of Mac & Cheese,’ Free Family Day Snow Globes, Dance the Cold Away, the Frozen Goose 10K & 5K Fun Run/Walk, and a Hearts & Diamonds Spectacular! 1-800-634-8277; www.rochestercvb.org/play
Winterfest will be held throughout the city of St. Peter, Friday, February 3 through Sunday, February 12. Just some of the festivities include a Medallion Hunt, Kiwanis Chili Feed, Youth Fishing Contest, a free Poker Walk, live music, Candlelight Hike at the Treaty Site History Center, an All City Spelling Bee, wine tasting, a Polar Plunge, snowman building contest, Rock/Scissors/Paper & Hairy Legs contests, and the All American Canned Beer Invitational! Please note that some events are weather permitting. 1-800-473-3404; http://www.stpeterchamber.org
The 62nd Annual Waseca Sleigh & Cutter Festival will be held throughout the city of Waseca from Friday, February 3 through Saturday, February 25. Highlights the first weekend of the event include the 11th Annual Squirts Hockey Tournament, 5th Annual Waseca Fireman’s Kickball Tournament on Clear Lake near the Boat House Grill & Bar, a Bridge Card Tournament, and the 3rd Annual Sleigh & Cutter Ice Plunge on Clear Lake by Clear Lake Park. The Waseca Sleigh & Cutter Parade will be held Saturday, February 11. 507/461-3727; www.sleighandcutter.org
Eastside Lake in Austin will be the site of the 10th Annual Fishing For A Cure Ice Fishing Tournament on Saturday, February 4 from noon until 2:00 p.m. The $10 entry fee includes minnows, predrilled holes, a Berkley tackle pack, door prizes and food, with prizes for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners. In addition, enjoy a live auction, raffles, door prizes and food following the tournament at the Austin Eagles Club. One hundred percent of the proceeds go directly to the Hormel Institute’s fight against cancer. 507/219-6229; www.austindailyherald.com
The MnUSA 2012 Winter Rendezvous will be held throughout the city of Fairmont, Thursday through Sunday, February 9-12, with Vintage Sled Ride to the MN/IA border and groomer demonstrations, weather permitting. Non weather-dependent events include a bean bag tournament, DNR seminars, Schell’s Brewery Tours in New Ulm, wine tastings, a Barn Quilt tour, tour of historic sites in Fairmont, and a Quilt Show with roughly 40 quilts on display. The Fairmont Holiday Inn will serve as the headquarters, with beverages around bonfires at their fire pits Friday evening. 507/235-8585; http://myblizzardclub.com/2012%20Rendezvous.htm, www.visitfairmontmn.com
The city of Worthington will hold their Winterfest celebration at Saturday, February 11. Highlights include the crowning of the Snow Queen and Winterfest Ambassador, the Deep Freeze Dip at Lake Okabena, a Heart Healthy walk, and the Southwest Minnesota Fishing Club’s Ice Fishing Tournament on Lake Okabena, weather permitting. 1-800-279-2919; www.worthingtonmnchamber.com/events/winterfest-0, www.worthingtonmnchamber.com
Twin Cities Greater Metropolitan vicinity
The Art Shanty Projects will be open Saturdays and Sundays, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., through February 5 on Medicine Lake in Plymouth. This four-week exhibition is part sculpture park, part artist residency and part social experiment, inspired by traditional ice fishing houses that dot the state’s lakes in the winter. It is an artist-driven temporary community exploring the ways in which a public space of a frozen lake can be used as an artistic environment to expand notions of what art can be. And on Saturday, February 4 from noon until 3:00 p.m., the Fishing For Life Holes for Heroes Ice Fishing Tournament will also be held on Medicine Lake in Plymouth. This fun ice fishing contest honors the Armed Forces and their families, and features great fishing and prizes, as well as random drawings, food and fun KidsZone activities in a huge heated tent. The tournament will be simulcast for active military overseas. 612/567-6844, 651/337-1783; www.artshantyprojects.org, www.fishingforlife.org, http://2012holesforheroes.eventbrite.com
The Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul will present Omnifest 2012 through February 17. This year’s films are Journey to Amazing Caves, Amazon, Shackleton’s Antarctic Adventure, Search for the Great Sharks, and Wolves. See them over several days or watch them back-to-back, and return for your favorites as many times as you’d like! 1-800-221-9444; www.smm.org/omnifest
The 126th Annual St. Paul Winter Carnival will be held throughout the city of St. Paul, Thursday, January 26 through Sunday, February 5. “The Coolest Celebration on Earth!” attracts approximately 350,000 visitors a year to its fun and educational activities and events. This Saturday, February 4, don’t miss Family Day events at the Landmark Center and Rice Park, Music In Rice Park, skating at the Wells Fargo skating rink, the Ambassador Pre-Parade Party and Torchlight Parade, the Overthrow of Boreas, a fireworks display, and the Vulcan Victory Dance at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Please note that some events are weather permitting. 651/223-4700, 651/222-7027; www.winter-carnival.com, www.gai-mn.org/events
The Minneapolis Convention Center in downtown Minneapolis will be the site of the Progressive International Motorcycle Show will be held Friday through Sunday, February 3–5. Experience the World’s Largest Motorcycle Show and research and compare makes and models, see custom bikes and stunt shows, visit the Dream Pavilion, test your Motorcycling IQ, spin the wheel and win awesome prizes, and shop for the newest products at Just for Women and The Marketplace. And on Sunday, February 5, check out Unveiled ~ The Ultimate Wedding Planning Event at the Minneapolis Convention Center, with the latest fashions, trends and ideas, along with gowns straight from the runways of New York’s Couture Bridal Market. 612/335-6651; www.minneapolis.org/minneapolis-convention-center
The North Branch Chamber’s 12th Annual Winter Fest will take place Saturday through Sunday, February 4-12 in North Branch’s Central Park, with a wide array of activities to chase the Winter Blues away. Highlights on Saturday, February 11 include ice sculptures and sculpting demonstrations, a Chili Show Down, free Family Fun games, Turkey Bowling, and family ice-skating with Frosty! 651/674-4077; www.northbranchchamber.com, www.northbranchchamber.com/images/stories/pdf_forms/wfposter.pdf
The 45th Annual RV, Vacation and Camping Show will be held at the Minneapolis Convention Center in downtown Minneapolis, Thursday, February 9 through Sunday, February 12, with nearly anything and everything related to outdoor vacationing and camping. Shop hundreds of 2012 class A, B and C motorhomes, travel trailers, fifth-wheels, tent trailers and park models, see the latest in RV and camping accessories, stock up on essentials, and gather great ideas for your next vacation! The Minneapolis Convention Center will also host the 8th Annual Lake Home & Cabin Show, February 10-12, specializing in second homes and the second home lifestyle. Shop for rustic and specialty furniture and furnishings, see the latest in sporting gear, outdoor equipment & marine equipment, watch How-To seminars and demonstrations, and meet with architects, builders, remodelers, landscaping, lakeshore maintenance, real estate and finance professionals. 1-800-848-6247, 952/471-1192; www.gsevents.com/shows, www.lakehomeandcabinshow.com
And just some of the upcoming concerts and performances include:
Disney Presents The Lion King at the Historic Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis through February 12
A Prairie Home Companion at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, each Saturday through February 18
Girls Only: The Secret Comedy Of Women at the New Century Theatre in Minneapolis through March 18
Diana: A Celebration at the Mall of America in Bloomington, February 2-June 10
The World’s Toughest Rodeo at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, February 3
Jeff Mangum at the Pantages Theatre in Minneapolis, February 4
Mystic Comedy Night at Mystic Lake Casino & Hotel in Prior Lake, February 4
Lenny Kravitz at the Historic State Theatre in Minneapolis, February 7
O.A.R. at the Historic State Theatre, February 11
Tim Patrick and His Blue Eyes Band at the Burnsville Performing Arts Center, February 11
Jason Aldean with Luke Bryan at the Xcel Energy Center, February 17
Jin Xing Dance Theatre’s Shanghai at the Historic Orpheum Theatre, February 18
The Jayhawks at the Historic State Theatre, February 18
WWE Raw Supershow at the Target Center in Minneapolis, February 20
Green Day’s American Idiot Tour at the Historic Orpheum Theatre, February 21-26
Arenacross at the Target Center, February 25
Amateur Arenacross at the Target Center, February 26
Montgomery Gentry at Mystic Lake Casino & Hotel, February 26
Disney On Ice: Dare To Dream at the Target Center, February 29-March 4
The Fresh Beat Band Live In Concert at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, March 1
Brian Regan at the Historic Orpheum Theatre, March 2
Buddy Guy at the Historic State Theatre, March 2
Spencers Theater of Illusion at the Burnsville Performing Arts Center, March 8
Shen Yun at the Historic Orpheum Theatre, March 9-11
Lady Antebellum: Own The Night 2012 World Tour at the Target Center, March 11
The Houston Ballet at the Historic Orpheum Theatre, March 23 & 24
Pat Donohue at the Fitzgerald Theater, March 24
Mama Mia! at the Historic Orpheum Theatre, March 24-29
Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour by Cirque du Soleil at the Target Center, March 27 & 28
The Million Dollar Quartet at the Historic State Theatre, March 27-April 1
Celtic Woman – Believe at the Xcel Energy Center, April 1
Human Nature: The Motown Show Presented by Smokey Robinson at the Historic State Theatre, April 3
Rodney Crowell at the Fitzgerald Theater, April 3
Guster & Jeff Garlin Present a Night of Acoustic Music & Comedy at the Pantages Theatre, April 6
The Harlem Globetrotters at the Target Center, April 6 & 7
Ballet Preljocaj at the Historic Orpheum Theatre, April 13 & 14
Casting Crowns at the Target Center, April 21
Melissa Etheridge at Mystic Lake Casino & Hotel, April 21
Snow Patrol at the Historic State Theatre, April 25
Florence and the Machine at the Historic State Theatre, April 27
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at the Historic Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, May 1 & 2
Weird Al Yankovic at the Historic State Theatre, May 3
An Evening With Yanni at Mystic Lake Casino & Hotel, May 4
Rammstein at the Target Center, May 8
Stephanie Miller’s Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour at the Historic State Theatre in Minneapolis, May 12
The Black Keys at the Target Center, May 15
B.B. King at the Historic State Theatre, May 18
Jeremy Messersmith at the Fitzgerald Theater, May 19
Van Halen at the Xcel Energy Center, May 19
Nickelback with special guests Bush, Seether, & My Darkest Days at the Target Center, May 23
Roger Waters: The Wall Live at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, June 3
Chris Koza at the Fitzgerald Theater, June 8
The Blue Man Group at the Historic Orpheum Theatre, June 15-24
T. Michael Rambo at the Fitzgerald Theater, June 16
Foster the People at the Target Center, June 22
Neil Diamond Live In Concert at the Xcel Energy Center, July 11
Il Divo at the Target Center in Minneapolis, August 2
Coldplay at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, August 11
For further information on any of these performances or events, please contact Ticketmaster at 651/989-5151, or visit www.ticketmaster.com
Central Minnesota
The city of Spicer will hold their annual Winterfest Celebration each Friday through Sunday, through Saturday, February 4. Just some of the highlights include fireworks, craft sales, the 8th Annual Polar Plunge, Skate In To Spicer, a Spa Day at Glacial Ridge Winery, Frozen 5K run & Walk, WinterFest $1,000 Raffle on Green Lake, All You Can Eat BBQ Ribs, and DJ & Dancing at Zorbaz. 320/796-8066; www.spicermn.com
The 9th Annual Crosslake WinterFest will be held Thursday through Saturday, February 2-4, at locations throughout Crosslake. This year’s events include a Treasure Hunt for the Medallion, bonfires & s’mores, pond skating, DJ music, horse-drawn wagon rides, a warming house with coffee & hot chocolate, specials all over town, a firefighter’s pancake breakfast, SoupFest, live comedy and an Italian buffet, Italian Olympics, bocce ball, radar runs, ice car races, ice sculpture demonstrations, kid’s games and a snowman building contest! 1-800-450-2838; www.explorebrainerdlakes.com
The Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge in Zimmerman will hold their Winterfest celebration on Saturday, February 4. This free family event offers outdoor and indoor activities, including horse-drawn sleigh rides, bird education with live owls, a scavenger hunt, nature walk, roasting marshmallows around a bonfire, winter bird feeding, great food, and various informational exhibits! 763/389-3323; www.fws.gov/midwest/sherburne
The Habitat For Humanity Ice Fishing Contest will be held noon until 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 4 on Mons Lake near Swanville, just west of Little Falls. Afterwards, enjoy an All You Can Eat Soup Supper fundraiser at the St. Francis Convent in Little Falls, with homemade soups and bars served from 4:30-7:00 p.m. And while in Little Falls, be sure to check out the Minnesota Home Front World War II Exhibit at the Linden Hill Mansion. This exhibit runs from January 21 through March 11, and features nine graphic panels, audio interviews, songs of the period, and a “Letter Stories” bin which explore the accomplishments, sacrifices, disappointments and challenges of “Minnesota’s Greatest Generation.” 1-800-325-5916; www.littlefallsmn.com
Hole In The Day Bay on Gull Lake in Brainerd will be the site of the Brainerd Jaycess $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza on Saturday, February 11, with roughly 10,000 anglers competing for more than $200,000 in cash and prizes in 2012! The contest begins with the National Anthem and a cannon blast at 12:00 noon. Spectators will also enjoy live radio coverage and Youth Ice Olympics. A Kick-Off Party will be held Friday evening, February 10 at Grand View Lodge, with beer and wine tastings, appetizers, live music, a silent auction, raffle, and professional anglers sharing their tricks of the trade. Reservations are required. 1-800-450-2838; www.icefishing.org, www.explorebrainerdlakes.com
The Freeze Fest Winter Extravaganza will be held Saturday, February 11 on Little Pine Lake in Perham. In addition to the Saturday morning Freeze Fest Fishing Tourney, enjoy the Freeze Your Face 5K Run, the “Freezin for a Reason” Polar Plunge, and a “Prairie, Lake, Forest: Minnesota’s State Parks” presentation and Ministry of Jazz Concert: Dixieland and More at the In Their Own Words (ITOW) museum. 218/346-7710; www.perham.com
Northwest Minnesota
The 29th Annual Buena Vista Logging Days at Buena Vista Ski Area in Bemidji on Saturday, February 4. Highlights include old-time logging demonstrations, live music, sleigh rides, a lumberjack camp meal, blacksmithing and crosscut sawing demonstrations, crafts, roping contests, and a treasure hunt. 1-800-777-7958; www.bvskiarea.com/loggingdays.html
Fish Hook Lake in Park Rapids will be the site of the 13th Annual Park Rapids American Legion Community Ice Fishing Derby on Saturday, February 4, with $110,000 in prizes to be given away, including roughly 60 raffle prizes. 1-800-247-0054; www.parkrapidsfishingderby.com, www.parkrapids.com
The annual Ice Bocce Tournament will be held February 4 on Girl Lake in Longville, with 70 four-person teams competing on lanes plowed on Girl Lake near Patrick’s Fine Dining–spectators will enjoy warmth and camaraderie, along with great food and beverage! 1-800-756-7583; www.longville.com/icebocce.html
The city of Detroit Lakes will be the site of the annual Polar Fest celebration, Friday, February 10 through Monday, February 20. Highlights include the 2nd Annual Poles ‘N Holes Fishing Derby, the One Lunger 100 Vintage Snowmobile Races, Polar Explorer Will Steger at the Historic Holmes Theatre, a Polar Plunge, Freeze Your Buns 5K, Frozen Bowling, spectacular fireworks display, theatre performances, curling bonspiels, a Chili and Chocolate Chill, pancake and French toast feed, Secrets of Pairing Wine Tasting, and the Polaritaville dance–also enjoy a variety of lodging specials! 1-800-542-3992; http://visitdetroitlakes.com
Audrey’s Purple Dream Fishing Tournament will be held Saturday, February 11 on the 11th Crow Wing Lake in Akeley, with prizes awarded by the largest weight and time registered. In addition, enjoy a pancake breakfast, hot food and warm beverages on the ice, the Purple Plunge, a raffle, and live music. 218/368-3393, 1-800-247-0054; www.audreyspurpledream.com
Northeast Minnesota
The Ely Winter Festival will be held Thursday, February 2 through Sunday, February 12 throughout the city of Ely. This 10-day celebration highlights the unique culture, art, history and traditions of the BWCAW. Highlights include the International Snow Sculpting Symposium, Ely ArtWalk, Historic Voyageur Encampment, a craft fair, sled dog rides, Boathouse Winter Classic Triathlon, Dorothy Molter museum tours, ArtWalk Artists’ Meet & Greet, Polar Bear dance, a fish fry, concerts, and spaghetti dinner. 1-800-777-7281; www.elywinterfestival.com
Grand Marias and other cities in Cook County will host the Winter Tracks Art Festival, Friday, February 3 through Sunday, February 12. This festival consists of two unique events: a Snow Carving Symposium and Winter Plein Air Painting. From February 3-12, freshly painted works will be on display and for sale at the Grand Marais Art Colony, with snow sculptures displayed outside of local businesses throughout Cook County. And don’t miss the Artists Reception & Winter Plein Air Painting Exhibit Opening at the Grand Marais Art Colony at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, February 3, and enjoy a slideshow of the snow carvings, along with a chance to meet the snow sculptors and outdoor painters and hear their stories about winter’s inspirations! 1-888-922-5000; www.grandmaraisartcolony.org
The Laskiainen Finnish Sliding Festival will be held Saturday and Sunday, February 4 & 5, at Loon Lake Community Center in Palo to celebrate the ethnic heritage, customs, crafts, music and sports of the area. The Loon Lake Community Center is located 10 miles south of Aurora on Hwy 100. 218/638-2551; www.ironrange.org
Downtown Two Harbors will be the site of the Two Harbors Winter Frolic, Friday and Saturday, February 10 & 11. Celebrate winter on the North Shore of Lake Superior, and enjoy sledding, ice carvings, a parade, Fun with Frosty, Chili Cook Off, Winter Frolic Ale, Digital Photo scavenger hunt, live music and entertainment, trail groomer rides, a bonfire with free s’mores, Winter Camping and outdoor sports demonstrations, family skating party, vintage snowmobiles, free horse drawn sleigh rides, and the very popular Winter Frolic Races Smoosh and Outhouse races! 1-800-777-7384; www.twoharborswinterfrolic.com
The 19th Annual Carlton Winterfest will be held at Carlton High School and on Chub Lake Park in Carlton, Friday through Sunday, February 10-12, with live music, children’s games, a Zoomobile, Candelight Ski at Jay Cooke State Park, 17th Annual Chili Cook Off, Hook and Slice on Ice, a talent show, Valentine’s Dinner, free movie and popcorn, and many other events around town! 1-800-625-4661; 1-800-554-4350; http://carltonchamber.com/events.aspx, www.visitcloquet.com

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Bemidji Region - Minnesota
18882 North Blackduck Lake RD NE Hines, MN 56630 Office 218-835-4552 Cell 218-553-0210
Email - vacation@whitebirchresort.net