Events & Attractions
Minnesota celebrates festivals and events throughout the year, giving residents and visitors alike the opportunity to participate in a kaleidoscope of activities. Every corner of the state has communities with events highlighting the heritage and culture of the region, ranging from German Oktoberfest festivities to American Indian pow wows. Visit with colorful fur traders at Big Island Rendezvous in Albert Lea in October. Experience the colorful ethnic folk costumes, dances and mouthwatering delicacies at the Scandinavian Hjemkomst Festival in Moorhead each June. Or take part in the Mahkato Traditional Pow Wow in Mankato in the fall. Each festival offers a unique experience.
In addition to the top festivals listed, hundreds of other events take place throughout the state.
Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship, Saint Paul
Jan. 24-26, 2013
The Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship makes its way to Saint Paul, Minnesota for the second year in a row in 2013 as one of five stops around the world. Two hundred of the toughest, fastest, ice cross downhill racers will go head-to-head through a downhill course full of mind-and-body-bending jumps, turns and slides—all against the backdrop of the historic Cathedral of Saint Paul with thousands of spectators. Admission is free.
Saint Paul Winter Carnival
Jan. 24-Feb. 3, 2013
Long known as the nation's oldest winter festival, since 1886 the Carnival provides indoor and outdoor fun, while reliving the ancient legend of springtime's triumph over winter. The celebration includes 75 events including parades, ice and snow carving competitions, ice skating, golf on ice and singing contests.
Grumpy Old Men Festival, Wabasha
Feb. 23, 2013
Celebrate winter with that grumpy old man's hobby of ice fishing, in the town that inspired the movie of the same name. 2013 marks the 25th Anniversary of the Grumpy Old Men Festival. Activities include an ice shack contest, the 5th Annual Grumpy Plunge, frisbee games, golf tournaments on snow, bird watching and a spaghetti dinner and dance. You won’t run into Walter Matthau or Jack Lemmon, but this quaint Mississippi River town knows how to celebrate.
Bluff Country Studio Art Tour, Winona
April 26-28, 2013
Treat yourself to a weekend of art in galleries and artist studios, where the artists will be taking questions and talking about their works. Since the initial tour in 2000 included artists from Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota, the tour extends from Winona along the Mississippi River down to the Iowa border and west to Lanesboro and Harmony. A wide range of art media are on display and galleries offer a variety of art pieces for sale.
Festival of Nations, Saint Paul
May 2-5, 2013
The Festival of Nations is the largest multi-cultural event in Minnesota. Held at the St. Paul RiverCentre, the Festival of Nations offers visitors the opportunity to develop an appreciation of the culture of others as we build for the future together. The celebration includes demonstrations, exhibits, ethnic foods and dance performances.
Grand Celebration Pow Wow, Hinckley
This American Indian event is the largest Pow Wow in the Midwest with over 1,200 dancers, drummers and singers from nearly every tribe in the USA and Canada participating. In addition to the dancing, visitors learn about American Indian traditions, eat Indian food and can purchase Indian crafts.
Scandinavian Hjemkomst Festival, Moorhead
June 28-29, 2013
Authentic Scandinavian event featuring dancing, entertainment, booths and food celebrating the heritage of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. The festival takes place at the Heritage Hjemkomst Center, home of the Viking ship that sailed from Minnesota to Norway in 1982.
Tall Ships Challenge, Duluth
July 24-30, 2013
Visit Duluth is once again bringing the Tall Ships® to Minnesota. Duluth will be one of only a handful of Great Lakes ports that will host the prestigious Tall Ships Challenge® and is the only challenge destination on Lake Superior. Tall Ships Duluth 2013 promises to be the largest event in the region’s history featuring ship tours, day sails, educational programming, food and beverage, entertainment and fun for the entire family!
Bayfront Blues Festival, Duluth
Aug. 9-11, 2013
One of the largest outdoor music festivals in the Midwest, the 25th annual Bayfront Blues Festival showcases nearly 30 national performances on two concert stages. Additional weekend events include a Moonlight Mardi Gras Cruise and live Blues performances at nearly 20 Duluth nightclubs. The event takes place in Canal Park on Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world.
Minnesota State Fair, Saint Paul
Aug. 22-Sept. 2, 2013
The Great Minnesota Get-together features world-class entertainment, agricultural exhibits, horse shows, a rodeo, arts and craft displays, amusement park rides, a daily parade and food of every variety, most often served on a stick! The event attracts almost 2 million visitors each year.
Big Island Rendezvous & Festival, Albert Lea
October 5-6, 2013
A celebration of history during the fur trade period of America (1650-1840) and early Frontier America features music performances by groups from throughout the US and Canada, over 300 tents and campfires with more than 1,000 living history re-enactors carrying on daily life as it would have been over 200 years ago. Demonstrations of colonial crafts, Native American skills and pioneer life are showcased throughout the festival so you can try your hand at rigid heddle weaving, spinning and spoon carving or watch a gunsmith create a work of art.
Holidazzle Parades, Minneapolis
Nov. 29-Dec. 22, 2013
The annual Target Holidazzle Parade displays over one million brilliant lights as visitors watch their favorite storybook characters come to life. Lighted elaborate floats, musical groups and costumed characters parade down the Nicollet Mall at 6:30pm, even as the winter weather descends upon Minneapolis. The parade is free to watch, and runs Thursday through Sunday during the holiday season.
Minnesota offers More to Explore, with stunning scenery and world-class tours, dining, entertainment and shopping. Hundreds of historic sites and museums relay the stories of determined pioneers from Germany, Scandinavia and central Europe. The towns they founded are now noted for their historic architecture, antique shops, inns and ethnic festivals. In the countryside there are bike trails, canoe rivers, and fishing lakes and streams. And in a state with tax-free shopping on clothing and shoes, Mall of America is a shopper's dream come true!
The following attractions are a few of the highlights in a state filled with interesting sites—from outdoor adventures, world-class theaters and museums, to fascinating historic sites. A complete listing of the various attractions in all corners of Minnesota is available.
Mall of America
Located in Bloomington, this is the largest shopping and entertainment complex in the U.S. under one roof, with more than 500 stores, 60 restaurants, 14 movie theaters, Nickelodeon Universe indoor amusement park, Underwater Adventures Aquarium, mini-golf and numerous other attractions. In addition to the mall, Minnesota offers even more shopping, from outlet malls to antique shops and more. Minnesota is a shopping paradise, with no sales tax on clothing, shoes, food or medicine.
Mississippi River Headwaters
Old Man River, the Mighty Mississippi, begins as a tiny stream flowing out of Lake Itasca in Itasca State Park, near Bemidji. A marker at the source states, "Here 1,475 feet above the ocean, the mighty Mississippi begins to flow on its winding way 2,552 miles to the Gulf of Mexico". Visitors usually cross the source on stepping stones, which according to Indian legend, will lead to a long and fruitful life.
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness/Voyageurs National Park
Along the northern border with Canada, Minnesota has two national treasures. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA) is the only federally-protected canoe area in the country, with more than 1,300 lakes offering canoeing and camp sites. Voyageurs National Park is the only water-based national park in the United States; boating is the recommended method of transportation. Tour boats, motor boats and houseboats are all available for rent.
National Eagle Center
On the banks of the Mississippi River in the southern river town of Wabasha, the National Eagle Center showcases hundreds of migrating and wintering eagles in a sparkling new facility, including three resident eagles which can no longer survive in the wild. The eagle-watching deck has spotting scopes and binoculars for visitors. Complementing this are two other wildlife refuge abodes, the International Wolf Center and the North American Bear Center, both located up north in Ely.
Bayfront Blues Festival/Duluth
Each year in August, Duluth hosts one of the largest outdoor musical festivals, with over 30 performances on two concert stages. Located on the shore of Lake Superior, Duluth welcomes ships from around the world which glide under the Aerial Lift Bridge to enter the harbor. Duluth is also gateway to the North Shore Drive along Lake Superior, recognized as one of the top scenic drives in the United States.
Four of Minnesota's 500 public courses are among the top ranked in the nation. These courses are The Quarry at Giant's Ridge and The Legend at Giant's Ridge, both located in Biwabik, and The Classic at Madden's Resort and Deacon's Lodge at Grand View Lodge, located in Brainerd. Beautiful, affordable courses are found statewide where every golfer, from the novice to the experienced will have a great time. More than 90 percent of the state's courses are open to the general public.
Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum
Readers of Laura Ingalls Wilder books and viewers of the television series, "Little House on the Prairie", enjoy this museum in Walnut Grove. The actual Wilder dugout home site on Plum Creek is about one mile north of the museum. Each year the Wilder Pageant, an outdoor theatrical production, runs for three weekends in July.
Pipestone National Monument
For centuries, American Indians from throughout North America have come to Pipestone to harvest this red soapstone-like material, which is used for making peace pipes and other artifacts, such as turtles and eagles from quarries in southwestern Minnesota. Attractions at the Monument include operating quarries, craftspeople carving the pipestone, and an interpretive center and gift shop. Believed to be sacred ground, the Monument is a surprising relief from the surrounding prairie, with forest, rock formations, water falls and native plants.
The newly constructed Guthrie, in a spectacular award-winning facility designed by Jean Nouvel, sits along the banks of the Mississippi River. Productions are shown on three stages where visitors can enjoy breathtaking views from the cantilevered bridge over the river. Minneapolis is home to over 75 theater companies. Many more are found in the Twin Cities area, where one may find Broadway shows or original, avant-garde productions, comedy and dinner theater.
Saint Paul Winter Carnival
The Saint Paul Winter Carnival, dating back to 1886, operates from late January to early February and is one of the oldest and largest festivals in the nation. For ten days, you can find parades and competitions throughout the city of Saint Paul. Events include ice and snow sculpturing, giant slides, golfing on snow, and car races on ice-covered lakes.