This is the time of year when we hole up with Netflix and a bottle of wine. But let's give ourselves some credit, too. Even though we're facing some -40-degree days in the coming months, and there will be some anti-social days, most of us are also going to go outside at some point and have some fun.
In honor of this week's dismal temperatures, we've put together a post that will hopefully get you excited to enjoy our frigid climate. These events couldn't happen without them, after all.
U.S. Pond Hockey Championship
(Lake Nokomis, 5001 Lake Nokomis Pkwy. W., Minneapolis)
This event was originally slated for this week, but was postponed due to concerns that the lake would not freeze in time for the weekend. Oh, if they had only known. For this epic competition, teams of men, women, and children compete in a variety of events for the chance to take home the Silver Scoop or the Golden Shovel. Bring skates; there are open skating rinks set up as well. For warmth, fill a thermos with hot chocolate, or stop by the warming tent, which usually has brews, coffee, and other refreshments for sale. For complete game schedules, see the official U.S. Pond Hockey website: uspondhockey.com. Free. January 28-24.
2016 Saint Paul Winter Carnival
Most people who partake in the the Saint Paul Winter Carnival have their favorite happenings and traditions. Over at Rice Park, guests will find open skating, a mini ice palace, and ice sculptures. At the Minnesota State Fairgrounds there will also be outdoor activities. Or, if you like sports, sign up for a run or to play some winter golf (you might want to go with a non-white ball). There are not one, but three parades on the schedule: Moon Glow Pedestrian, King Boreas Grand Day, and Vulcan Victory Torchlight. For a complete list of locations, admission fees, and events, visit the official website at winter-carnival.com. January 28 through February 7, 2016.
Ninth Annual Art Sled Rally
(Powderhorn Park, 3400 15th Ave. S., Minneapolis)
There's something exciting about building a ridiculous contraption in hopes that it will successfully soar down a snow- and ice-filled hill. That's the premise behind the annual Art Sled Rally. Each year, kids and grown-ups come together to build the wildest sled-like structures they can, then send them down a hill. Past submissions have included a canoe with paddles, a rainbow unicorn, fighter jet-style sleds, First Avenue...as a sled, and a French baguette-type thing. Some creations with ease, while others fall on their sides with a "thunk." No matter what happens, these DIY artworks are amazing, and will bring a smile to your face. Free. 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, January 30. Sign up here.
Beer Dabbler ?Winter Carnival
(Minnesota State Fairgrounds, 1265 Snelling Ave., St. Paul; 651-288-4400)
Drinking outdoors is a time-honored tradition for the centuries. The Saint Paul Winter Carnival’s Beer Dabbler is an excellent opportunity to do so, as over 120 beers will be on tap for sampling in the Minnesota State Fairgrounds’ Mighty Midway and Coliseum. Try local brews from the likes of Birch’s on the Lake, Badger Hill Brewing Company, and Lucid, or step outside our state for tasty options from Alaskan Brewing Co., Ommegang (Cooperstown, N.Y.), and Epic Brewing (Salt Lake City, Utah). During the day, the festival will also be offering winter games, good eats, and live music to add to the fun. For more info, visit beerdabbler.com. $40-$55; $99 VIP; $10 designated driver. 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. February 6.
City of the Lakes Loppet
During the coldest month of winter, Minnesotans arrive in south Minneapolis for the City of the Lakes Loppet, a multiday festival featuring scenic nature walks, beer parties, outdoor games, and intense races for competitive athletes. Sporting events include speedskating, ski sprints, skijoring (with dogs!), bike racing (on ice!), and cross-country ski challenges open to all skill levels and ages. Saturday evening boasts the popular Luminary Loppet, a wintertime stroll around Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles that travelers can walk, cross-country ski, or snowshoe through. Along the illuminated trail, revelers will find fire performers, hot chocolate stations, ice sculptures, and more. Other happenings throughout the weekend include firework displays, a Surly beer garden, and a snow sculpting contest. Events are free to watch, with sign-up rates ranging from $10 to $150. For a complete schedule of events, times, and locations, or to register for an event, visit loppet.org/cityoflakesloppet. February 5-7.
Art Shanty Projects
(White Bear Lake, 5050 Lake Ave. N., White Bear Lake; 651-748-2500)
Last year, the Art Shanty Projects went on hiatus. But event organizers had a plan, and so the endearing (and enduring) outdoor winter festival returns in 2016 better than ever. The celebration, now with nonprofit status behind it, invites revelers out to the frozen surface of White Bear Lake for quirky hands-on activities, educational opportunities, and plenty of silly fun. Over 15 shanties will be setting up on the ice, including the Dance Shanty, where the party never stops (it’s also a great place to visit if you get cold); the Chef Shanty, where folks can sample food and take a mini-cooking class; and the Sound Chamber Shanty, where visitors can listen to and create sound under the lake. Say hi to the Pedal Bears as well, two giant puppets on wheels that will be traveling throughout the grounds. For more info, visit artshantyprojects.org. Free. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. February 6-28.
Red Bull Crashed Ice
(Cathedral Hill, St. Paul)
Each year, a giant track is built on the St. Paul hill that goes from the Cathedral and heads to downtown. World-class athletes then arrive and skate in heats of four down it, while also avoiding obstacles, in hopes of winning what is one of the most visually intense sporting events of the season. It's terrifying and awesome to watch. To calm your nerves, beer is generally sold on site. February 26-27.