Fun on the Ice

By James Riemermann

Rochester socialICE bar

Ice-themed festivals and activities abound from border to border. There are ice fishing contests both serious and playful, ice bars, ice castles, ice skating, ice bowling, curling, art shanties on the ice, and polar plunges of crazy/brave swimmers jumping into holes in the ice. Below is just a brief sample, with links to more comprehensive information.

Ice Castles

Jan. 6-March 3

Stillwater, daily except Tuesdays, 888-407-4054

Fairytales are brought to life with twinkling lights, magnificent archways and towers, ice-carved tunnels, fountains and slides, particularly enchanting after dark.

Icebox Days

Jan. 19-28

International Falls, 218-283-9400

A town known as the “Icebox of the Nation” celebrates winter with frozen turkey bowling, smoosh races (teams of racers strap a 2-by-4 to their boots), moonlight skiing in Voyageurs National Park, and gizzard runs.

Spicer Winterfest, Jan. 20- Feb. 11

Spicer, 320-796-8066

Ice fishing tournaments on Green Lake, a polar plunge, frozen 5K run, horse and buggy rides, fireworks, hockey tournament, cross-country skiing and medallion hunting.

Saint Paul Winter Carnival, Jan. 25-Feb. 10

St. Paul, 651-223-4700

In its 132nd year, the St. Paul Winter Carnival is ruled by King Boreas, who defends winter against Vulcanus Rex and his Krewe, who maraud the city's streets and bars in masks and red capes. Numerous attractions include the Moon Glow, Torchlight & Grand Day parades, imaginative ice and snow sculptures, a beautiful ice bar in Rice Park, ice skating, and loads of live music and other entertainment.

Sleigh & Cutter Festival, Jan. 28-Feb. 25

Waseca, 507-461-3727

Horse and sleigh parade down State Street, medallion hunt, snowmobile drag races, ice harvest, ice golf, ice curling and snow sculpting.

Frostbite Festival, Feb. 2-4

Fergus Falls, 218-736-6951

Indoor and outdoor ice skating, ice fishing derby and Super Bowl parties.

Winterfest on Lake Bemidji, Feb. 2-3

Bemidji, 218-444-3541

Ice fishing tournament, pond hockey, curling bonspiel, Brrrmidji Plunge, turkey bowling, 5K & 10K runs, and a taproom on ice with live music.

Otter Tail County - On Ice!, Feb. 3-4

Ottertail, 612-210-5525

Ice anglers from the county and beyond will set up ice fishing houses on Otter Tail Lake to catch fish—no competition, just good fishing and fun, with food vendors and a big tent with musical entertainment.

Polar Fest, Feb. 8-19

Detroit Lakes, 218-847-9202

Outdoor activities include an ice palace, a fishing derby, polar plunge into Detroit Lake, a winter shanty beer tasting, 5K run, and a tailgating party followed by fireworks.

SocialICE, Feb. 9-11

Rochester, 507-216-9882

An outdoor ice bar in downtown Rochester's Peace Plaza, with lighting effects, music, and a signature drink at each of seven uniquely designed 12-foot bars.