7 wintry food events by the Great Northern put a celebratory spin on the cold

Yeah, it's cold, but you can still drink beer, can't you?

Yeah, it's cold, but you can still drink beer, can't you? Getty Images/iStockphoto

Have you been paying attention? Minneapolis has been in the national and international media spotlight. We’ve been declared a place to travel before you die.

But wait, isn’t it like, cold in Minnesota?

Pshaw. We ought to embrace our northern roots, black ice and all. So sayeth the City of Lakes Loppet Ski Festival, the Saint Paul Winter Carnival, the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships, and Eric Dayton of Askov Finlayson -- all of whom have joined forces to create “The Great Northern.”

“There’s nothing more Minnesotan than enjoying an outdoor meal or drink with friends and a good fire,” said Eric Dayton in press materials for the events. “And there’s no reason we can’t enjoy those traditions in winter, too!

"These unique winter experiences across Saint Paul and Minneapolis offer something for everyone, and they all tap into the same spirit of camaraderie and celebrating the cold and snow that is fueling The Great Northern.”

The events (many of them free) span the end of January through the beginning of February (otherwise known as the second ring of hell for winter-haters). They include pond hockey with beer; a luxe, luminary-strewn winter table in the North Loop for an eye-popping $395 price tag; another, more approachable outdoor feast at the St. Paul Winter Farmer’s Market for $30; “Cinco de Mayo” in February, and lots, lots more.

See below for a full list of events, and grab tickets ASAP. They’re sure to go fast.

And, don’t forget to grab those thermals. You’re gonna need them. Or, chuck your unders altogether, because there's even a sauna on wheels. Check it out:

Friday, January 27 – Sunday, January 29
Fans and players at the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships can enjoy food and beverages at the Hard Rock Café, which is open each day during the three-day event. 

Time: Friday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Location: Lake Nokomis
Tickets: Free, food and beverage available for purchase

Monday, January 30
The Bachelor Farmer, Spoon and Stable, and Meritage present A Winter Table in Minneapolis’ hip North Loop neighborhood. North First Street between the Bachelor Farmer and Spoon and Stable will be closed off and a table set for 100. There will be bonfires to keep guests warm as they enjoy a four-course ode to Minnesota winters. Expect icy seafood towers from Russell Klein of Meritage in St. Paul, wine and cocktail pairings throughout dinner, custom Faribault Woolen Mill blankets, and handmade s’mores kits.

Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: North First Street in the North Loop neighborhood of Minneapolis
Tickets: $395 (incl. all tax, gratuity, valet and beverage pairings), to purchase, visit: The Bachelor Farmer

Tuesday, January 31
Frozen Family Fun Night at the Saint Paul Winter Carnival will feature live music from Koo Koo Kanga Roo as well as a visit from the Saint Paul Mounted Police, Winter Carnival Junior Royalty, Elsa & Anna, food trucks & more.

Time: 5 p.m.-8 p.m.
Location: Rice Park
Tickets: Free, food and beverage available for purchase

Tuesday, January 31
Join Chef Thomas Boemer of Corner Table and Revival, and Chef Adam Eaton of Saint Dinette for a French Canadian-inspired, outdoor winter feast. There will be a selection of sweet and savory, soul-warming dishes -- from skewered meats and smoked fish to toasted bread and warm maple syrup -- all under the awnings of the Saint Paul Farmer's Market. Tim Niver, Laurel Elm, and Nick Rancone will also craft an array of chilled, warm, and spiked beverages, available a la carte, for an enchanted evening of dining and imbibing in the Lowertown neighborhood of Saint Paul.

Time: 6 p.m.–9 p.m.
Location: Saint Paul Farmers Market
Tickets: $30 (incl. entry, tax and food), to purchase, visit: The Great Northern at Eventbrite 

Wednesday, February 1
Cinco de Mayo takes over Rice Park with a little help from Boca Chica and El Burrito Mercado. Enjoy authentic tamales, elotes, and a jalapeno eating contest! There will be live music from Mariachi Jalisco and West Side Band.

Time: 5 p.m.-8 p.m.
Location: Saint Paul Winter Carnival, Rice Park
Tickets: Free entry, food and beverage available for purchase

Wednesday, February 1
The Swedish “Kraftskivan” party, traditionally held in summer, is getting The Great Northern treatment as Surly’s Executive Chef Jorge Guzman and his Brewer’s Table team join forces with Wyatt Evans of Saint Paul’s Heirloom. This wintery outdoor Kraftskivan crayfish party will be hosted by Surly Brewing Co., where revelers will also smoked sturgeon, Scandinavian delicacies, brewery innovations from Surly Brewing, and of course, crayfish. Guests will also experience the nation’s first community-owned mobile sauna, courtesy of 612 Sauna Society. Grab some crayfish and then sweat it out in a sauna-on-wheels in the Surly beer garden.

Time: 6 p.m.–9 p.m.
Location: Surly Brewing Co. Beer Garden
Tickets: Free, food and beverage available for purchase

Thursday, February 2
Happy Hour in Rice Park includes a Not Your Father’s Root Beer or Ginger Ale, beer or glass of wine. Saint Paul’s own Black Market BBQ will be serving up Not Your Father’s Root Beer glazed ribs and there will be live music from White Iron Band.

Time: 5 p.m.-8 p.m.
Location: Saint Paul Winter Carnival, Rice Park
Tickets: Free, food and beverage available for purchase

Friday, February 3 – Sunday, February 5
Fans and participants can enjoy a Surly Beer and grab a bite to eat from a selection of local food trucks in the Loppet Village during the three-day City of Lakes Loppet Ski Festival.

Time: Friday, 5 p.m.–9 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Location: Loppet Village Area
Tickets: Free, food and beverage available for purchase

Saturday, February 4
The 8th Annual Beer Dabbler Winter Carnival is back, with craft beer from 120+ breweries, live music, gourmet meat and cheese showcase from Lunds and Byerlys, local food trucks, and a flurry of winter activities. Minnesota’s biggest outdoor beer festival is a true celebration of winter in Minnesota.

Time: 2:30-6:30 p.m.
Location: Minnesota State Fairgrounds
Tickets: 21+ event, to purchase tickets, visit: