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St. Paul Winter Carnival Events

St. Paul Winter Carnival Event Calendar: Parades, Ice Carving, Winter Sports


St. Paul's Winter Carnival is one of the nation's longest-running festivals.

In 1885, a New York reporter described Saint Paul as "another Siberia, unfit for human habitation" in winter. St. Paulites were highly offended by the insult, so they decided to prove that St. Paul was not just habitable, but actually fun in the winter, by having a big party. In 1886, the first Winter Carnival had an huge ice palace, parades, skiing, snow shoeing, games and sledding.

Today, the St. Paul Winter Carnival is the largest event in the Twin Cities over the winter. The Winter Carnival is famous for displays of ice carvings, Minnesotan foods, and the Torchlight Parade through downtown St. Paul. After the Torchlight Parade, King Boreas, the winter king, is symbolically overthrown in the center of St. Paul, which is will then allow spring to arrive. 

Modern carnivals also have ice racing, art shows, free ice skating, beer festivals, hotdish, snow sculptures, and sporting contests.

In 2014, the St. Paul Winter carnival starts on January 23, until February 2.

Major Multi-Day Events at the St. Paul Winter Carnival

All events are free and open to spectators, unless otherwise noted.

Starting Sunday January 19 - January 30, or until someone finds the treasure: Pioneer Press Treasure Hunt. Try to decipher the clues printed in the Pioneer Press newspaper to find a medallion hidden somewhere in one of St. Paul's parks.

Thursday January 23: Moon Glow Parade The Winter Carnival kick-off event starts at 6pm in downtown St. Paul.

Thursday January 23 - Sunday February 2: Ice Carving Competition. This is one reason to hope for consistent sub-freezing temperatures, to keep the intricate ice sculptures looking their best through the carnival. The ice carving is at Rice Park in downtown St. Paul. Watch the artists work starting on January 23, and view the completed carvings any time during the festival. Free.

Friday January 24 - Sunday February 2: Snow Park at the Fair, Snow Sculpture Creation and Viewing. The annual tradition of snow sculpture at the Winter Carnival continues at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. This year, there will also be a giant snow slide. Admission is free.

Major Weekend Events at the St. Paul Winter Carnival

Saturday January 25:

  • 9 am: Securian Winter Run, 5K, 10K and half marathon distances, St. Paul.
  • 9 am: Snow Plow Competition, Rice Park, St. Paul
  • 9 am - 1 pm: Winter Carnival Disk Golf Competition, Como Park, St. Paul
  • 10 am - 4 pm: Xcel Energy's Energy in the Park: kids and family events with an energy efficiency theme. Rice Park, St. Paul
  • 1 pm - 4 pm: Winter Carnival East Side Sledding Event, free food and drink, and prizes. Margaret Recreation Area, 1079 Beech Street, St Paul.
  • 2 pm - 6 pm: Winter Carnival Kid’s Day, Landmark Center, St. Paul
  • 2 pm: King Boreas Grand Day Parade, downtown St. Paul
  • 3.30 pm - 7.30 pm: Winter Carnival Beer Dabbler beer festival plus the world's largest snowball fight, State Fairgrounds

Sunday January 26:

  • 9 am: Winter Carnival Disk Golf Competition, Como Park, St. Paul
  • 9 am: Snow Plow Competition, Rice Park, St. Paul
  • 3 pm: Music in the Landmark Center, a special performance by the Saint Paul Symphony Civic Orchestra 

Saturday February 1:

  • Noon - 5 pm: Family Day events in Rice Park, downtown St. Paul
  • 2 pm: King Boreas Grand Day Parade, downtown St. Paul
  • 5.30 pm: Winter Carnival Torchlight Parade
  • Immediately following the Torchlight Parade: Overthrow of King Boreas, St. Paul Central Library steps
  • Immediately following the Overthrow:  Fireworks from Raspberry Island

More Winter Carnival Events

The Winter Carnival has plenty of other events over the two weeks, many with Klondike Kate, the Vulcan Krew, and the rest of the cast of Winter Carnival characters. Many of these events are ticketed. All of the Winter Carnival Events can be found at the Winter Carnival website.

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