As the Twin Cities descend even further into the winter season, Minnesotans are, unlike many, coming out to celebrate. While you’ve likely heard about three main Great Northern Festival events — the City of Lakes Loppet Ski Festival, the St. Paul Winter Carnival and the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships — there’s a lot more going on this season to make the cold all the more livable — and fun.
Beer Dabbler Winter Carnival
The Beer Dabbler Winter Carnival offers beer lovers the opportunity to warm up with brews from more than 150 craft breweries. The winter version of the fest also brings an impressive lineup of local music with performances from DJ Shannon Blowtorch, bluesy folk rockers 4onthefloor and experimental R&B group ZULUZULUU throughout the day. Dabblers get access to a gourmet meat and cheese showcase from Lunds & Byerlys, a live obstacle course to name the next American Brewer Warrior and an array of other entertainment, from Brazilian beer pong and human foosball to a silent disco. For food, there’ll be food trucks like The Smoking Cow, Potter’s Pasties and Market Bar-B-Que.
Where: Minnesota State Fairgrounds, Mighty Midway
When: Saturday, Feb. 4 from 2:30 p.m.–6:30 p.m.
Cost: $45 in advance, $55 day of
Northern Lights.mn and Barbette are lighting up the winter season with B-Lectric, a new winter celebration of art and light at the Uptown restaurant. The festival will heat up with performances from Infiammati Fire Circus, music from DJ Jake Rudh of Transmission and installations from Art Shanty Projects. They’ll have help courtesy of Indeed Brewing Company beer and whiskey and bourbon cocktails from food and beverage company Beam Suntory. With a host like Barbette, you can also expect some elevated cuisine, such as oysters, mulled wine and more. Be sure to check out the art installations, including Joshua McGarvey’s Ice Fall-Feel the Change, which allows audiences to feel glaciers calving as they lean back into sound beds.
Where: Barbette, 1600 W. Lake St.
When: Sunday, Jan. 29 from 4:30 p.m.–9 p.m.
For fans of The Bachelor Farmer’s Kraftskiva, Surly Brewing Co. has something for you this winter. The brewery is throwing its own version of the Swedish summer party with executive chef Jorge Guzman and his Brewer’s Table team combining efforts with Wyatt Evans of Saint Paul’s Heirloom to create a next-level dining event. Surly fans can enjoy a beer, crayfish and smoked sturgeon, among other Scandinavian delicacies, before spending time in the nation’s first community-owned mobile sauna courtesy of 612 Sauna Society.
Where: Surly Brewing Co., 520 Malcolm Ave. SE
When: Wednesday, Feb. 1 from 6 p.m.–9 p.m.
Living Banners and Words for Winter
The Minneapolis Foundation and the Downtown Council are teaming up with the creators of the Northern Spark art festival to bring poetry to Nicollet Mall. The groups will unveil a new art installation on the mall on the evening of Jan. 30 at Peavey Plaza with a light and sound show. The primary work, “Living Banners” by Piotr Szyhalski, will wrap the mall between 5th and 12th streets. Several short poems from local poets will also be on display, ironically through road construction signs. Work will be on display through Feb. 5.
Where: Nicollet Mall between 12th and 5th streets
When: Jan. 30–Feb. 5
“Cellula” is a bedtime story unlike anything you’ve heard or seen before. The premiere production from Minneapolis performers Z Puppets Rosenschnoz, the show is told by both biologists and puppets. “Cellula” puts the marvels of cellular science to blacklight puppetry from performers Shari Aronson and Chris Griffith and acapella music, courtesy of improvisational vocalists Mankwe Ndosi and Libby Turner. An hour before the family-friendly show, audiences can explore the connections between art and science at an interactive gallery with state-of-the-art and vintage magnification devices thanks to the MN Microscopy Society, Mia and the Mill City Museum.
Where: In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre, 1500 E. Lake St.
When: Jan. 27–Feb. 5
Cost: $15, $8 for children
Big Climb Mpls
Big Climb Mpls may be more accurately described as the biggest climb. The challenge — the tallest indoor, chip-timed vertical climb in the Midwest, organizers say — takes climbers not quite to new heights, but everyday ones. Participants, from eight-year-olds to adults, take to the Capella Tower, stair stepping up floor after floor of the office tower in order to raise money for blood cancer research. Start a New Year’s resolution off right by climbing 53 floors or a whopping 105 floors for a cause.
Where: Capella Tower, 225 South 6th St.
When: Saturday, Feb. 4 at 7 a.m.
Cost: $25 plus $75 fundraising minimum per person
The Healthy Life Expo is a one-stop shop of all things health, wellness and fitness, and it’s perfectly timed to get the Twin Cities in gear for a better year. More than 200 local and national exhibitors, from doctors and dieticians to authors and athletes, will showcase their expertise at the Minneapolis Convention Center for the two-day expo. There will also be an array of free speakers, seminars and demonstrations across three stages for a unique hands-on experience.
Where: Minneapolis Convention Center, 1301 2nd St.
When: Feb. 4–5 from 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Cost: $6, free with food donation