Ice sculptures, ice mazes, and more ice: Free things to do this week


Darrin Johnson

This week in free things to do we have a ton of Saint Paul Winter Carnival happenings to check out, a haunting series of portraits, and an ice maze at Mia. Come take a look.

Saint Paul Winter Carnival 
Various locations

The Saint Paul Winter Carnival is Minnesota’s love song to the dead of winter, and we’ve been singing it for 132 years. This sprawling, city wide festival offers fun in a variety of flavors. Rice Park in downtown St. Paul (109 W. Fourth St., St. Paul) is hosting the majestic ice palace, open to all to explore. It’s 70 feet tall and took 4,000 ice blocks to build. On Saturday, artists will be competing in an ice sculpting contest, where you can watch animals, people, and more emerge from blocks of ice. If you’re really brave, consider becoming zen with winter during an outdoor yoga session at the Landmark Center on Saturday morning. There’s also a boot hockey tourney nearby that is free to join. Later in the day is Team USA Winterfest, a daylong celebration where you can meet gold medal figure skater Meryl Davis and other Olympians, eat s’mores, and try the very Minnesotan sport of curling. Meanwhile, over at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds (1265 Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul) there will be a giant snow slide to ride down, a snow sculpting contest, and the Polar Plunge, where you can watch people dressed in wild costumes jump into a pool of freezing water for charity. For a complete event schedules, see the carnival’s official website,, or call the main hotline at 651-223-7400 for details. Daily. --Jessica Armbruster


Kristie Bretzke, 'Bruce'

Kristie Bretzke: Coal Room
Traffic Zone Center for Visual Art

After swooning over the glassy surfaces and shadowy desolation of her poolscapes and delighting in the meticulous line and light of her modern architectural paintings, one can’t help but be excited for Kristie Bretzke’s new series of moody portraits. Illumination and shadow are exquisitely balanced, brushstrokes delineate and obscure defining features, and psychological states emanate from the canvas. Reportedly the artist was inspired by the chiaroscuro-like ambience within a basement coal room she encountered at an artist retreat on the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland. There will be a public reception from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, February 1. Free. 250 Third Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612-247-1244. --Camille LeFevre



Mia Ice Maze
Minneapolis Institute of Art

The fall corn mazes are long gone. This weekend, however, the Minneapolis Institute of Art will have their own maze for you to explore on the front lawn. This creation is made of ice, and it’s free and open to all. Put on some sturdy footwear, and make your way through. At various points you can stop and check out sneak previews of what you will find inside at the museum’s latest exhibition, “Power and Beauty in China’s Last Dynasty,” which opens this Saturday. Opening-day festivities on Thursday includes hot cocoa and family fun. 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Free. 2400 Third Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-870-3131. Through Sunday --Jessica Armbruster

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