The Great Northern shines a light on winter in the Twin Cities

The Get Out Guide features all the events to get you out and around Minneapolis.

The St. Paul Winter Carnival. Submitted photo

The Great Northern

This year is the year Twin Cities residents take a break from complaining about the weather and start embracing it, or so hope the founders of The Great Northern. The new festival combines three existing winter celebrations — the St. Paul Winter Carnival, the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships and the City of Lakes Loppet Festival — to create something even bigger than the sum of its parts. In addition to these three events, check out for more details on how to cherish the season, from new art on Nicollet Mall to new culinary programming.


St. Paul Winter Carnival

While the St. Paul Winter Carnival has been bringing people together around winter for more than a century, this year the festival joins the Great Northern, which partners the St. Paul celebration with seasonal Minneapolis events. The festivities kick off with lighting of downtown St. Paul with the Moon Glow Pedestrian Parade on Jan. 26 at 6 p.m. During the first weekend, the Securian Winter Run will have runners on three different races — a half marathon, 10K and 5K — on Saturday, Jan. 28. And don’t forget about a fairly new tradition, the Beer Dabbler Winter Carnival, set to take place at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds on Feb. 4 at 2:30 p.m. Minnesota’s biggest outdoor beer festival will feature more than 120 breweries, live music and gourmet food.

Where: 109 W. 4th St., St Paul

When: Jan. 26–Feb. 7

Cost: Free



U.S. Pond Hockey Championships

You know you’re in Minnesota when you’ve donned ice skates to play hockey on a frozen pond. The U.S. Pond Hockey Championships has drawn thousands of players and spectators to Lake Nokomis each year for more than a decade. While it’s likely too late to register as one of 250 or so teams vying for the Golden Shovel this year, the championships are something every Minnesotan needs to experience — and it’s open to free agents if you still really want to play. Spectators can watch games and take advantage of open rinks and other events beginning Thursday, Jan. 26 and running through Sunday, Jan. 29.

Where: Lake Nokomis, 4955 W. Lake Nokomis Parkway

When: Jan. 26–29

Cost: Free


Skiers participated in a pre-Loppet race at Theodore Wirth Park in 2013. Credit: File photo

City of Lakes Loppet Festival

The City of Lakes Loppet Festival — a three-day celebration of winter sports — is returning to Minneapolis with a long weekend full of cross-country skiing, skating and more. On Friday, try catching the first of the speedskating races on Lake Calhoun, the 25-kilometer race at 4 p.m. On Saturday, the Loppet is hosting a snow sculpture contest sponsored by the Southwest Journal near the Lake Calhoun Center, a free competition that is open to groups of up to four. On Sunday morning, there will be a non-competitive Loppet Tour taking skaters between Theodore Wirth Regional Park and the Loppet Village in Uptown.

Where: Various locations

When: Feb. 3–5

Cost: Free and ticketed events


Image by Bethany Birnie
Image by Bethany Birnie


Gamut Gallery’s latest exhibition features five women artists exploring themes of body image and beauty, societal pressures, the subconscious and death. In “Valure” artists Bethany Birnie, Bunny Portia, Caitlin Karolczak, Jane Wunrow and Serah Sauser deconstruct the confines of the idealized “feminine” through autobiographical paintings, macabre taxidermy and more. Gamut will host an opening reception on Friday, Jan. 27 with live music from local electronic music producer Aimerie ($5 admission) and a closing reception on Friday, Feb. 17 with an original dance performance piece from Ghostbridge Theatre ($10 admission).

Where: Gamut Gallery, 717 S. 10th St.

When: Jan. 27 through Feb. 17

Cost: Free, $5–$10 receptions




TwinsFest will bring together more than 60 current, former and future Minnesota Twins players — not to mention its first-ever beer garden — at Target Field this year. For any sports fans, the three days of festivities offer a one-stop destination to get autographs, talk inside baseball with fellow fans and get a behind-the-scenes team experience. A new addition this year is the TwinsFest Taproom, which will host pub games, arcade games, family activities and, of course, craft beer. During TwinsFest, there will also be a brunch with T.C. Bear in the Town Ball Tavern on Sunday, Jan. 29.

Where: Target Field, 1 Twins Way

When: Jan. 27–29

Cost: $20; $10 for kids ages 14 and younger


The Current’s 12th Birthday Party

The Twin Cities’ favorite radio station for independent music is turning 12 with a weekend full of local music. Over two nights, 89.3 The Current will present some of the most exciting acts to come out of the state, including folk-rock veteran Jeremy Messersmith and indie rocker Haley Bonar. The 18-plus show also brings up-and-comers to the stage, such as Lemon Twigs, the alternative Baroque pop band fronted by brothers Brian and Michael D’Addario, and Minneapolis-based multi-instrumentalist Monica LaPlante. Kenyan-born, Minneapolis-based singer-songwriter Jay Smart, 12-piece Afrobeat band Black Market Brass, Portland folk trio Joseph and folk act Strand of Oaks fill out the lineup.

Where: First Avenue, 701 N. 1st Ave.

When: Friday, Jan. 27 and Saturday, Jan. 28

Cost: $20 per night


IMG_6141 webPint of Music

The Minnesota Orchestra is combining a micro-brewery and a micro-concert with a night of free music at Inbound BrewCo. Join a string quintet of Minnesota Orchestra musicians for a free pint at North Loop BrewCo’s North Loop brewery and taproom. Following the event, the brewery will give away free samples at Orchestra Hall for the orchestra’s Feb. 3 Future Classics: Emerging Composers Spotlight concert.

Where: Inbound BrewCo, 701 N. 5th St.

When: Thursday, Jan. 19 at 7:30 p.m.

Cost: Free