Wander Minnesota: February Festivals

Layer up, people—there’s a lot going on around the state in the short month of February. Note: the list doesn’t include the large number of Polar Plunges—or, in Wabasha, the Grumpy Old Men Plunge—occurring around the state this month. As for Valentine’s, we’ve already got you covered.

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 (free for Wells Fargo customers). Last weekend, so get out there and enjoy it.

St. Paul Winter Carnival
Through Feb. 4
Take that, you stupid New York reporters of the late 1800’s; Minnesota is not “another Siberia, unfit for human habitation in the winter.” And with that, a cherished annual festival was created. Coronations, ice-carving contests, snow-block building, snow sculptures, a lavish torchlight parade, hockey tournaments, a 5k and half-marathon, maybe even snow soccer. Oh—and a chance to take a slide down the giant slide at the State Fairgrounds. Don’t be a wimp.

Spicer
WinterFest
Weekends through Feb. 12
Spicer (just outside of Willmar) takes its winter festival very seriously. Three packed weeks of bonfires, snowmobile runs, fish fries, fishing tournaments, Frozen 5K, Polar Plunge, and fireworks.

Waseca
Sleigh and Cutter Festival
Now through Feb. 26
Now in its 67th year, Waseca celebrates its heritage with some fun old-time activities. Tundra golf, vintage snowmobile rides, old-fashioned ice harvest, a golf tournament, all kinds of game tournaments, and snowmobile rides.

Ely
Winter Festival
Feb. 2-12
If you can’t find something to do at this festival, you’re a curmudgeon indeed. Learn how to sculpt snow, take a dog sled ride, attend a dance, enjoy live music, visit the Dorothy Molter Museum, go snowshoeing or skiing, learn about the Ely Folk School, and skiing by candlelight.

Bemidji
Winterfest
Feb. 3-4
Bundle up and get out there! Festivities include a curling bonspiel, pond hockey, 5K and 10K Polar Challenge, frozen turkey bowling, live music, food, and a taproom on ice.

St. Paul
Mondo Festival
Feb. 10-12
Your chance to try juggling or unicycling—or just attend the festival and see what the pros can do—and music and magic too.

Meadowlands
Sax Zim Bog Birding Festival
Feb. 17-19
http://sax-zimbog.com/
Birders come to the Sax Zim Bog from all over the world for this annual birding festival in hopes of glimpsing many of the more than 240 species located there.

Apple Valley
Tropical Beach Party
Feb. 18-Mar. 12
If you’ve had about enough of winter, then head out to the Minnesota Zoo. It’s beach time. Yes, really—there’ll be plenty of sand for everyone to play with. Not to mention calypso music.

Walker
Eelpout Festival
Feb. 23-26
Arguably one of the ugliest fish out there, eelpout serves as the centerpiece for this festival, now in its 38th year. Fish fries, mechanical bull rides, auto race on the lake, dancing, curling, and of course, fishing for eelpout.

Nisswa
Frozen Fore
Feb. 24-26
Missing your summertime golf? Then this is just right for you. Several 9-hole courses set up around Gull Lake, parties with music and food, and a hockey tournament.

New Ulm
Fasching
Feb. 25
True to its German heritage, New Ulm celebrates Fasching, a German Mardi Gras that occurs before Ash Wednesday. German food, music, dancing, even a Parade of Costumes.

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.

More from Amy Rea
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