People on a frozen Lake Minnetonka for the Wayzata Chilly Open

Find Frosty Fun at Minnesota's Best Winter Festivals

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Wayzata Chilly Open on Lake Minnetonka / Dynamic Photowerks

Find Frosty Fun at Minnesota's Best Winter Festivals

By Erica Wacker

We don't hide from winter weather in Minnesota; we embrace it by engaging in everything from frozen turkey bowling to ice bar tippling to golfing on ice! So bundle up and check out the many ways to play at winter festivals around the state.

People smooshing at IceBox Days in International Falls

'Smooshing' at IceBox Days in International Falls / Marsha Shuff


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, which have garnered a lot of national attention over the years.

Hygge Festival, Grand Marais

The annual Hygge Festival lets you 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, and snowshoe hikes.

Ely Winter Festival

The 10-day Ely Winter Festival 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.

Annual Trout Derby, Gunflint Trail 

Help keep more than 137 miles of snowmobile trails maintained by supporting Cook County's own Club Ridge Riders club through the Annual Trout Derby on Gunflint Lake. Cash prizes are doled out to the Top 10 catches, and everyone is invited to a cookout with fish burgers, hot dogs, burgers and brats. 

People posing for a picture in the ice palace at Detroit Lakes Polar Fest

Ice palace at Detroit Lakes Polar Fest / Paul Vincent


Frostival, Moorhead

In Moorhead, the frosty fun lasts six weeks during their annual Frostival celebration. The event includes winter wildlife hikes, disc golf, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, candle-lit trail walks, snowga (that is yoga in the snow) or go on a sleigh ride. Stroll through Viking Ship Park to see incredible snow sculptures and warm up by a bonfire with hot chocolate and other toasty treats. The celebration takes place Jan. 13 to Feb. 24.

Polar Fest, Detroit Lakes

Polar Fest features more than two weeks of volunteer-led events, including ice golf, skiing, a fishing derby, a hot dish challenge and something that has to be seen to be believed: Frozen Fireworks.

Back to Hack, Hackensack 

The polar opposite of summer's popular Sweetheart Days is the Back to Hack Winter Festival which centers on such annual events as a Frostbite Your Fanny Fun Run, Paul Bunyan Family Fishing Contest, and a community bonfire complete with a full-on fireworks display.

I.C.E. Fest in Little Falls

I.C.E. Fest in Little Falls 


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 hayrides, 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, kid's 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.

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.

I.C.E. Fest, Little Falls 

World Ice Carousel Day is one of the main draws at I.C.E. Fest, a Little Falls highlight that attracts guests from as far away as Estonia, Finland and Quebec. Human foosball and bowling will also make an appearance, along with dog sleds and a better-late-than-never appearance by the big man himself.

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


Saint Paul Winter Carnival

Part of The Great Northern, which also encompasses the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships and City of Lakes Loppet, the 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. 

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.

United We Shiver, Elk River 

While the breathtaking United We 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


Bock Fest, New Ulm

Beckon warmer weather at Bock Fest 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 weekend 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.

Social-ICE, Rochester

Downtown Rochester's premier winter festival, Social-ICE lets you 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.