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Minnesota 2017 Festivals, Events and Noteworthy Anniversaries
Minnesota boasts many noteworthy 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 showcases spectacular events and anniversaries, highlighting the heritage and culture of the region, ranging from German Oktoberfest festivities, ice fishing adventures to American Indian powwows. Visit with colorful fur traders at Big Island Rendezvous in Albert Lea, or experience one of the largest state fairs in the nation in St. Paul. Minnesota festivals and events offer a unique experience for everyone.
In addition to the sampling of festivals listed below, hundreds of other events take place throughout the state. For more information and to sign up for free weekly events newsletters visit exploreminnesota.com/events.
Minnesota State Capitol Tours
Reopened Jan. 3, 2017
The new and improved Minnesota State Capitol is open for 45-minute guided tours on the hour, Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Sunday, 1 to 3 p.m. Tours provide an overview of Minnesota State Capitol history, art, architecture, and state government, and will highlight the massive and largest restoration effort since opening in 1905.
Inaugural Norpine Fat Bike Classic, Lutsen
Jan. 6 – 7, 2017
Cook County is quickly becoming a top biking destination in the world. The event will have riders pedaling their 3.7-inch tires starting at the Superior National Golf Course and through the Norpine Trail System. After the races are completed Lutsen Resort will be hosting a post-race party which includes live music, complementary BBQ and beer from Castle and North Shore Winery.
The Great Northern
Jan. 17 – Feb. 5, 2017
Event leaders from three prestigious Minnesota events will collaborate and bring Minnesotan’s the ultimate northern experience. Winter has come and it’s bringing 10 fun-filled days of winter activities throughout the state of Minnesota. The 10 days of events promotes year-round traditions of outdoor activities providing accessible programming for locals and visitors
Hockey Day Minnesota Stillwater
Jan. 21, 2017
The NHL’s Minnesota Wild and Fox Sports North join forces to spotlight the “state of hockey” with exhibition hockey games by the Minnesota Wild, Minnesota Gophers and Minnesota State High School League. The fun-filled day includes tailgating, raffles, festivities and a specially-constructed rink set against the backdrop of a new Minnesota destination each year.
Saint Paul Winter Carnival (131st year)
Jan. 26 – Feb. 5, 2017
The 131st Saint Paul Winter Carnival, the “Coolest Celebration on Earth™” since 1886! It continues to bring family-friendly events and community pride to Saint Paul and the Twin Cities metro area. The Saint Paul Heritage and Festival Foundation manages and produces the Saint Paul Winter Carnival and the celebration features 75 events including parades, ice and snow carving competitions, ice skating, golf on ice and singing contests. New events include: The Frozen Film Festival and the King Boreas Winter Triathlon.
Brainerd Jaycees $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza
January 28, 2017
In the Land of 10,000 Lakes, what’s billed the world’s ice fishing event, is held each January on Gull Lake, where anglers compete for more than $150,000 in cash and prizes, including a new truck, ATVs, ice augers, ice fishing equipment, more. Competitors and spectators alike will enjoy the camaraderie on what seemingly represents a city on ice with a parking lot, rows of tents, food booths, and even shopping areas. Over 10,000 anglers from around the world compete in this fun outdoor ice event.
Red Bull Crashed Ice, St. Paul
Feb. 3 – Feb. 4, 2017
The Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship makes its way to Saint Paul, Minnesota, for the fifth year in a row as one of four 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 over 115,000 spectators cheering them on. Admission is free.
Art Shanty Projects, White Bear Lake
Feb. 11 – 26 (Saturdays and Sundays)
For over a decade, Art Shanty Projects has organized a month-long transformation a frozen lake surface into an interactive, artist-driven temporary community that expands notions of art and artist. Each year curious locals, regional artists and thousands of visitors brave deep snowfalls and brisk wind chills to celebrate this uniquely Minnesotan festival on ice. The program brings a new artistic use to ice-covered landscapes through a village filled with creative structures and lively performances.
Grumpy Old Men Festival, Wabasha
Feb. 25, 2017
Celebrate winter with that grumpy old man's hobby of ice fishing, in the town that inspired the movie of the same name. Activities include an ice shack contest, the plaid parade, the 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.
International Eelpout Festival, Walker
Feb. 23 – 26, 2017
This festival is a tradition steeped in ice angling on Leech Lake for one of the ugliest bottom-dwelling fish. The Annual International Eelpout Festival attracts more than 10,000 participants and visitors to the tiny town of Walker, Minn., (pop. 1,500) for three days in February. Several activities are held throughout the weekend, including the always-freezing Polar Pout Plunge, curling, bull riding, auto ice racing, rugby and a fishing show. Always a spectacle, this bucket list-worthy adventure has increasingly drawn national attention, including "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and one of the top “15 Weird Midwestern Festivals You Never knew Existed.
Paisley Park Celebrates the Life and Legacy of Prince
Apr. 20 - 23, 2017
Prince’s Paisley Park in Chanhassen, MN will be holding a four-day event honoring the life and legacy of Prince. Celebration 2017 will gather musicians, creative personal, special guest and friends who knew Prince best for four days featuring live music, presentations and more.
The Walker Art Center’s Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Reopening
After nearly two years of renovations, the reimagined Minneapolis Sculpture Garden on the new-and-improved Walker Art Center campus will welcome back visitors, artists and the community this June. The multifaceted project includes new walkways, plantings, retaining walls and irrigation systems, with a reshaped and sustainably designed Sculpture Garden covering 19 unexplored acres. The garden will feature 16 new works, adding up to more than 40 pieces including the iconic “Spoonbridge and Cherry.”
First Annual Minnesota Redneck Festival
June 2 – 4, 2017
Atkin has been proclaimed Minnesota’s “number-one redneck city” by RoadSnacks, hosting the city’s first annual Redneck festival. The city festival will include lawnmower racing, armpit serenades, bowling with tires and much more!
Sony’s Entertainment Park Opens in Albertville
Albertville, will be a hot destination for tourists this summer with the city’s newly opened indoor theme park, 275 room Marriot Hotel, and convention center. Sony Pictures are collaborating with Black Forest LLC to build a Hollywood-themed family detestation amusement park—filled with indoor activities that revolve around Sony movie characters providing an educational experience.
Grand Celebration Pow Wow, Hinckley
June 2017 (exact date TBA)
This American Indian event is the largest powwow in the Midwest with more than 1,200 dancers, drummers and singers from nearly every tribe in the USA and Canada participating. In addition to watching the dances, visitors learn about American Indian traditions, eat traditional food and purchase handmade crafts.
Scandinavian Hjemkomst & Midwest Viking Festivals, Moorhead
June 23 – 24, 2017
This authentic Scandinavian event features dancing, entertainment, booths and food celebrating the heritage of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Each year boasting a unique highlight, the festival takes place at the Heritage Hjemkomst Center, home of the Viking ship that sailed from Minnesota to Norway in 1982.
Basilica Block Party, Minneapolis
July 8 – 9, 2017
A favorite summertime event in the Twin Cities, the Basilica Block Party is a great way to celebrate good music, nice weather and community. The two-day festival is family-friendly event that attracts diverse crowds of all ages. Festival goers not only jam to the beat of good music, but to a good cause, as all concert proceeds go to preserving the historic Basilica of St. Mary – a landmark that has been an integral part of the community for more than a century, and also benefits the St. Vincent de Paul outreach program, an organization that provides food and shelter to nearly 3,500 people each month. Lineup TBA.
X Games Skates into Minnesota
July 13 – 16, 2017
A city that continues to establish itself as a premier sports and entertainment destination, Minneapolis will be the back-to-back host of the ESPN Summer X Games. Headquartered at U.S. Bank Stadium, the largest event in the young stadium’s history will take place July 13-16 this year (and July 19-22, 2018). The hand rails and stairs of the Medtronic and U.S. Bank Stadium plazas are the defining obstacles that athletes will need to conquer in hopes of taking home medals, prize money—and ultimate bragging rights.
Two events—BMX vert and skateboard vert—will kick off the festivities on July 13 with free admission. General admission tickets for Friday-Sunday start at $20; multi-day and “XIP” packages are also available.
Minneapolis Aquatennial Festival, Minneapolis
July 19 – 22, 2017
Summer in the Twin Cities is full of festivals – one of the biggest and the oldest being the Minneapolis Aquatennial. Touted as “the best days of summer,” and the official celebration of Minneapolis, thousands of Minneapolis residents, workers, and visitors participate in the nine day celebration, enjoying everything from sandcastle building tournaments, water ski shows, triathlons to parades and firework displays.
26th Year of the Moondance Jam Rock Festival, Walker
July 20 – 22, 2017
The annual rock and classic rock 4-day festival and the “Best Rock Festival in the Nation,” started back in 1992 turns 26 this year. Hosting more than 60,000 and 10,000 campers, this festival has only grown since its humble beginnings. The festival pumps up the community and many make their way from around the state to join in on the excitement.
Blueberry Art Festival, Ely
July 28 – 30, 2017
This three-day event in Whiteside Park in beautiful Ely Minnesota features 300 exhibitors of original art, photography, handcraft items, clothing, ethnic foods, plus a variety of musical entertainment. And to top it off, blueberry pancake breakfasts are served both Saturday and Sunday mornings at the event.
Mall of America Turns 25
The largest mall in the western hemisphere, Mall of America will celebrate its 25th anniversary this Aug. with many special events leading up to the big day. More than 520 tax-free stores, 50 restaurants and employees will join in celebrating Mall of America on its big day.
Bayfront Blues Festival, Duluth
Aug. 11 – 13, 2017
One of the largest outdoor music festivals in the Midwest, for over a quarter century, the 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 Renaissance Festival, Shakopee
Aug. 19 – Oct. 1, 2017 (weekends + Labor Day)
Journey back in time to a 16th-century European village at the 46th-annual Minnesota Renaissance Festival in Shakopee, MN. The popular festival dons 120 European food booths, live jousting, elephant rides and belly dancing. Plus, an abundance of artisans, selling everything from 16th-century attire, pottery and hand-blown glass to real battle axes. The event welcomes more than 300,000 people each year, becoming one of the largest renaissance festivals in the country and each weekend has a different and unique theme.
Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul
Aug. 24 – Sept. 4, 2017
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, often served on a stick! The event attracts almost 2 million visitors each year and is arguably the best state fair across America.
The Defeat of Jesse James Days
Sept. 6 – 10, 2017
Each year on the second weekend of Sept. townspeople of Northfield, MN and visitors alike commemorate and re-enact the James-Younger Gang's notorious 1876 bank raid on the town. The popular event features a bank raid re-enactment, Jesse James Bike tour, horseshoe hunt, classic car show, old-time tractor pull, parade, arts festival, carnival and more.
31st Big Island Rendezvous & Festival, Albert Lea
Oct. 5 – 8, 2017
This celebration of history during the fur trade period of America (1650-1840) and early frontier America features music performances by groups from throughout the U.S. and Canada, hundreds of tents and campfires with more than 1,000 living history re-enactors carrying on daily life as it would have been more than 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.
35th Oktoberfest, New Ulm
Oct. 7 – 15, 2017 (Saturday and Sundays)
This old world celebration features live local, regional and European entertainment, along with plenty of great German food and locally brewed August Schell's beer. The festival also boasts musical entertainment, including New Ulm's famous Concord Singers, German brass bands, polka bands and more, and was even ranked one of "10 great places to celebrate Octoberfest" by USA Today Travel.
Bentleyville Tour of Lights, Duluth
Nov. 18 – Dec. 26, 2017
Tis' the season for holiday tradition filled with family, friends and celebration on the shores of Lake Superior at Bayfront Festival Park, home to the largest holiday display in the Midwest. Bentleyville Tour of Lights is a magical display of nearly three million lights and the tallest Christmas tree in the U.S. (twice the height of New York City's famous Rockefeller Christmas Tree). Admission to Bentleyville Tour of Lights is free to the public.