Find Frosty Fun at These Minnesota Winter Festivals

By Erica Wacker

From frozen turkey bowling to ice bars to golf on ice, we don't hide from winter weather in Minnesota, we celebrate it! So bundle up, grab your family and friends, and check out the many ways to play at these winter festivals around the state.

Northeast Minnesota

IceBox Days, International Falls

IceBox Days is known for its crazy games and wacky activities such as frozen turkey bowling, the infamous Gizzard runs and locally invented smoosh racing, garnering a lot of national attention over the years.

Hygge Festival, Grand Marais

Hygge (the Danish ritual of embracing life’s simple pleasures) is especially meaningful in wintertime. Enjoy cozy surroundings, the warmth of family and friends, and fun activities such as fondue nights, cozy couple dinners, bonfires, talented musicians, dog sled tours, snowshoe hikes and much more.

Ely Winter Festival

The 10-day Ely Winter Festival and Art Walk is a celebration of the unique culture, art, history and traditions of this north woods town adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Main attractions include the snow sculpting competition and artwork on display throughout downtown.

Fireworks and ice palace on Detroit Lake

Polar Fest in Detroit Lakes / Paul Vincent

Northwest Minnesota

Back to Hack, Hackensack

Back to Hack celebrates winter with quirky events and festivities including the Frostbite Your Fanny 5K race, family fishing contest, penguin plunge, fireworks on Birch Lake, frozen pancake toss and other kids games.

Polar Fest, Detroit Lakes

The main attraction at Polar Fest is the ice palace made of ice from Detroit Lake. The public can watch the harvest and construction of the palace, and the festival culminates with ice golf, skiing, a fishing derby, hot dish challenge and much more.

Ice Fest, Thief River Falls

This new event celebrates winter with dog sled rides, fat biking, 5K and 10K races, hockey games and much more.

Pond hockey game at Breezy Point Resort

Ice Fest at Breezy Point Resort

Central Minnesota

Ice Fest, Breezy Point

Ice Fest delivers a myriad of activities on ice such as pond hockey, ice fishing, curling, snow golf, bag toss games and dancing to live music under a tent on the ice. Off the ice, take horse-drawn hay rides, ski by candlelight and warm by a bonfire. Area pubs and restaurants offer special deals and discounts.

WinterFest, Crosslake

Find old-fashioned family fun including pond hockey and bocce ball tournaments, kids games, a pancake breakfast and even helicopter rides at the annual WinterFest in Crosslake. Additional festivities include horse-drawn sleigh rides, a bonfire and s'mores, and a medallion hunt.

Otter Tail Co - On Ice!, Ottertail

Embrace winter with abundant events and entertainment on Otter Tail Lake. The whole family will delight in dog sledding demonstrations, ice fishing, snowmobile trail rides, a curling bonspiel, numerous live music acts and much more. Set up your ice house on Otter Tail Lake for a fun-filled weekend.

Winter Jubilee, Nisswa

Winter Jubilee activities include snow sculpture building, the Jubilee Parade, a wood-splitting contest, smoosh racing, medallion hunt, live music, dancing and an ice fishing contest on Nisswa Lake.

Dad and son on a sled at the Saint Paul Winter Carnival

Take a ride down the snow slide at the Saint Paul Winter Carnival, part of The Great Northern

Minneapolis-St. Paul Area

Saint Paul Winter Carnival

Part of The Great Northern, which also encompasses the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships and City of Lakes Loppet ski festival, Winter Carnival has been a capital city tradition since 1886. Thousands of revelers come to downtown St. Paul for events including ice sculpture carving, a winter run, snowplow competition, parades and fireworks. There's also an outdoor beer festival, snow sculpting competition and snow-centric activities for kids at the State Fairgrounds.

Chilly Open, Wayzata

Minnesota golf in February? You betcha! Imagine three 9-hole courses plowed out on Lake Minnetonka and over 1,700 golfers with their hockey sticks and golf clubs hitting and putting tennis balls. Players and onlookers will also enjoy free food, snowga (yoga), snowkiting (kite skiing), dog sled rides and the 19th hole tent.

Ham Lake Snowbowl

Snowbowl is an outdoor party showcasing a variety of fun winter activities such as snow sculpting, ice fishing, sledding, broomball, and snowmobile and fat tire bike races. A vendor expo, craft fair, food and refreshments, medallion hunt and contests are also part of the fun.

Shiver Elk River

While the breathtaking Shiver Plunge is the highlight of Shiver Elk River, there are many other fun outdoor events including an outdoor hockey tournament, 5K and 10K run/walk, bean bag tournament, medallion hunt, special family activities, as well as live music, craft beer garden and bingo.

Crowd of people at Bock Fest in New Ulm

Bock Fest at Schell's Brewery in New Ulm / Don Borstad

Southern Minnesota

Bock Fest , New Ulm

Beckon warmer weather with a mug full of Bock beer, live music, hot brats and bonfires. Seven Bocks of Winter are hiding around the Schell's Brewery grounds, waiting to be found. Human St. Bernards, with kegs of beer on their backs, are ready to assist weary hunters.

Bold & Cold, Owatonna

Be bold and embrace “cold noses and warm hearts” during the week-long Bold & Cold celebration. Highlights include a medallion hunt, ice fishing, candlelight skiing, fat tire bike races, snow sculpture competitions and more.

Winterfest, St. Peter

This fun-filled festival includes a Winterfest opening ceremony party, free hot chocolate and s'mores, medallion hunts, a polar plunge, hairy legs competition, poker walk, Commander's Chilifest and a winter demolition derby.

Sleigh & Cutter Festival, Waseca

The Sleigh & Cutter Parade is the highlight of this festival, featuring various breeds of horses pulling animal-powered sleighs. Other activities include snowmobile drag races, live music, dancing, ice-tundra golf, cross-country skiing, medallion hunt and a family movie night.

SocialICE, Rochester

Experience uniquely designed and themed ice bars, each with signature drinks, as well as full-scale ice sculptures illuminated with special lighting effects and live DJ entertainment nightly.