By Amy Rea

The festival-heavy month of December is behind us. But, Minnesotans are hearty creatures and that means there’s still plenty to do this month, including a variety of outdoor activities. So, time to layer up and wander Minnesota!

By start date, here is a look at all the things to do to keep busy this January.

St. Paul

Wells Fargo WinterSkate
Daily through Feb. 5; check the website for hours and weather cancellations

Enjoy one of winter’s most charming rituals in one of the Twin Cities’ most charming locations. Ice skate rental available for $4 on a first-come, first-served basis. Ice skate rentals are free for Wells Fargo customers.

St. Paul Winter Carnival
Jan. 5 – Feb. 4

After New York reporters of the late 1800’s called Minnesota “another Siberia, unfit for human habitation in the winter” another cherished annual festival was created: The Winter Carnival! Coronations, ice-carving contests, snow-block building, snow sculptures, a lavish torchlight parade, hockey tournaments, a 5k and half-marathon, maybe even snow soccer are all part of this winter wonderland. Oh—don’t miss your chance to take a slide down the giant slide at the State Fairgrounds too!

Ice Castles
Ongoing (check website for specifics)

Stillwater is Minnesota’s location this year for a giant ice castle, with plenty of room for kids to run and play.

Candlelight Snowshoe
Jan. 6

Embrace winter with a lighted snowshoe hike through beautiful Lake Bemidji State Park. Enjoy campfires, treats, and refreshments.

International Falls
Icebox Days
Jan. 18 – 22

The good people up on the Canadian border show that they have extreme stamina for the cold with this festival, including the “Freeze Yer Gizzard Blizzard” 5k and 10k runs, snow creations, frozen turking tossing, donkey basketball, a chili cook-off, snowmobile races and lighted snowshoe hikes in Voyageurs National Park.

Jan. 20 – 28

Spicer (just outside of Willmar) takes its winter festival very seriously. Nearly 10 days of bonfires, snowmobile runs, fish fries, fishing tournaments, Frozen 5K, Polar Plunge and fireworks.

Pine City
Winter Frolic
Jan. 21

Visit the North West Company Fur Post for some entertaining education about winter travel during the fur trade days, and try your hand at snowshoeing, throwing a curling snow or playing a round of Ojibwe snow snake. There will be a bonfire and hot cocoa as well.

John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon
Jan. 21 – 30

The annual running of this race commemorates, as always, the life of John Beargrease, Chippewa native who delivered mail by dog sled along the frozen North Shore in the late 1800s. It’s the longest race in the lower 48, and acts as a qualifying run for Alaska’s Iditarod. Several days of events surround the actual race, which starts on Jan. 29.

Winter Kite Festival
Jan. 28

The Minnesota Kite Society struts its stuff at this annual tradition on Lake Harriet. Beautiful, elaborate kites are flown by experts, and newbies can get tips from the experts and buy inexpensive kits on the spot. Bring your own kite to fly, or just watch the others while enjoying toasted marshmallows and ice-fishing demos.

Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza
Jan. 28

The prizes? $150k worth, including a truck and an Arctic Cat Alterra. The goal? The biggest fish. The best part? Proceeds go to more than 50 local charities, with this year’s primary charity the Confidence Learning Center. Oh—and no, they don’t sell beer on the ice. Just so you know. There’s also a Youth Ice Olympics that day.

What else is happening in our state? Be sure to check out the 10 p.m. Sunday night WCCO newscasts, where you can learn more in the weekly segment, Finding Minnesota.


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