48 Must-Attend Minnesota Events

By Erica Wacker

Surly's Ultimate Winter Feast outdoor dinner at The Great Northern
Surly's Ultimate Winter Feast outdoor dinner at The Great Northern / BLK WLF Photography

Whether you're into art, animals or ice fishing, you're sure to find an event worth traveling to this year in Minnesota. Find even more fun in the Festivals & Events calendar.


The starting line for Minnesota's annual Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon
John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon, Duluth

Mankato Craft Beer Expo

Learn about how beer is made and taste samples from more than 40 breweries from Minnesota and beyond.

Saint Paul Winter Carnival

Parades, snow sculptures, ice palaces and an outdoor beer festival are among the highlights of this 132-year-old seasonal celebration.

John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon

The longest sled dog race in the lower 48, the nearly 400-mile event starts in Duluth and is a qualifier for the Iditarod in Alaska.


City of Lakes Loppet

Cross-country skiers of all ages can participate in the City of Lakes Loppet Ski Festival in Minneapolis, which also features skijoring (skiing with dogs) and a fat tire bike race.

Winterfest in St. Peter

Scavenger hunt, polar plunge, ice skating, rock-paper-scissors and more are among the family-friendly festivities at this annual celebration on the ice.

International Eelpout Festival

One of the ugliest fish in the world draws more than 10,000 people to attend its namesake festival on Leech Lake, complete with eelpout curling, a polar plunge and nightly fish fries.

Grumpy Old Men Festival

Ice fishing, minnow races and a hot dish luncheon anchor an event named after the beloved Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon film.

Gull Lake Frozen Fore

Use your snowmobile as a golf cart and play nine holes on Gull Lake, followed by a tent party with live music and an ice bar.


International Owl Center, Houston_Pam Dimeler
International Festival of Owls in Houston / Photo by Pam Dimeler

International Festival of Owls

Owl lovers flock to this Houston festival to get up close with live owls, eat owl-themed treats and watch the kids hooting contest.

Celtic Festival

Celebrate traditional Celtic culture, food, music and more at the Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead, where bagpipes and kilts are par for the course.

Spring Carnival & Slush Cup

Bid winter farewell while watching contestants attempt to cross the slush pond in their winter sports gear. A luau carnival, BBQ and live music fill out the rest of the day at Giants Ridge in Biwabik.


piglet minnesota zoo
Adorable piglets at the Minnesota Zoo's annual Farm Babies event

Farm Babies

Piglets, goat kids, chicks and bunnies up the cute factor at the Minnesota Zoo’s family farm every day in April.

World Festival

Held in Rochester, an annual celebration of world cultures includes a parade, fashion show, stage performances and foods from around the globe.


Cinco de Mayo parade in St. Paul
Cinco de Mayo parade and festival in West St. Paul / Photo by Visit Saint Paul

Homegrown Music Festival

A weeklong music festival featuring 200 local acts at venues around Duluth. The music is supplemented by art shows, poetry slams and a kickball tourney.

Cinco de Mayo

St. Paul celebrates Hispanic/Latino culture with a family-friendly festival spanning six blocks known as the District del Sol.

Preston Trout Days

A parade, family bike ride, petting zoo and pancake breakfast add to the fun of this trout-themed festival in southeast Minnesota.

Detroit Lakes Festival of Birds

Detroit Mountain serves as headquarters for birding workshops, field trips, exhibitors and more during the annual spring migration.


Water Ski Days,  Lake City_Ben Threinen
Water Ski Days in Lake City / Photo by Ben Threinen

The Wizard of Oz Festival

Judy Garland’s hometown of Grand Rapids sings her praises year-round, but especially during the annual festival that pays homage to her most famous film.

Nisswa-Stamman Scandinavian Folk Music Festival

Performers from Norway, Sweden and across the United States convene in Nisswa every year for this celebration of Scandinavian folk music.

Perham Turtle Fest

A pet parade, train rides, medallion hunt and, of course, turtle races, make this central Minnesota festival a family favorite.

Water Ski Days

The birthplace of waterskiing, Lake City, celebrates its popular invention with water ski shows, a parade and three days of festivities.

Twin Cities Pride Festival

Minneapolis welcomes revelers from all walks of life for a GLBT-proud celebration with a family picnic, festival, parade and rainbow run in Loring Park.

Paul Bunyan Days

Pay homage to everyone’s favorite lumberjack with a Paul Bunyan lookalike contest, art show, minnow races and more in downtown Akeley.


BMX rider gets some air at the X Games
The summer X Games return to Minneapolis for a third year

X Games

The Olympics of extreme sports returns to U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, with four days of skateboarding, BMX riding, Moto X jumping and other exciting entertainment.

Nevis Pig Races

Cheer for your favorite costumed porker in this fun race, accompanied by a beer garden and activities for the kids.

Sinclair Lewis Days

The Nobel Prize-winning author’s hometown of Sauk Centre hosts five full days of activities, including a treasure hunt, concerts in the park and the Miss Sauk Centre Pageant.

Wilder Pageant

Another famous Minnesota author, Laura Ingalls Wilder, is the subject of live outdoor performances for three weekends in July.

New London Water Days

Festivities at the annual community festival in central Minnesota range from canoe and kayak races to a hog roast and tennis tournament.

Blueberry Art Festival

Peruse original art and handcrafted items from more than 250 exhibitors at this outdoor festival in Ely, which also features blueberry pie and pancakes, and activities for the kids.


State Fair Ferris Wheels
The Minnesota State Fair hosts more visitors per day than any other U.S. state fair

Antique Car Run

Starting in New London and ending in New Brighton, a 120-mile drive features pre-1916 vehicles, including cars, bikes and motorcycles, with special events before and after the ride.

Heritage Days

Celebrate the history and culture of the Red River Valley in East Grand Forks with an antique tractor pull, parade and historical reenactments.

Renaissance Festival

Journey back in time at this longstanding, seven-week festival in Shakopee, where revelers will be in good company among mermaids, knights, fairies, pirates and other colorful characters.

Minnesota State Fair

The granddaddy of them all, the Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul is the second-largest state fair in the country, renowned for its exhibits, grandstand performances and just about any food you can think of served on a stick.


A young dancer at the annual Mahkato Wacipi
A young dancer at the Mahkato Wacipi in Mankato / Photo by Karla Caspari

Steam Threshers Reunion

Taking place every Labor Day weekend since 1954 in Rollag, this celebration honors the good ol’ days of steam engines, gas tractors and threshing machines.

Defeat of Jesse James Days

Witness a thrilling reenactment of the attempted bank raid that led to the demise of the notorious James-Younger Gang in downtown Northfield.

Taste of the Root River Trail

Explore the towns along the Root River Trail, which include Fountain, Lanesboro, Peterson and Houston, on three Saturdays in September, where you can sample local fare and partake in other activities.

Grape Stomp & Fall Festival

Held at Carlos Creek Winery in Alexandria, the fall harvest celebration centers around a grape stomp competition, with live bands, art and food vendors, and a “man cave” for the beer drinkers.

Mahkato Pow Wow

A three-day event honoring the Dakota people with traditional music and dancers, food and handicrafts in Mankato’s Land of Memories Park.

Art Along the Lake

Take in the fall beauty along the North Shore of Lake Superior as you tour artists' studios and galleries from Tofte to Hovland.


Twin Cities Marathon - Twin Cities in Motion
The Twin Cities Marathon is one of Runner's World's top 20 U.S. marathons / Photo by Twin Cities in Motion

Twin Cities Marathon

Considered one of the prettiest urban marathons in the country, the annual race is worth the trip even if you’re just a spectator.


New Ulm hosts one of the best Oktoberfests in the country, with two full weekends of Schell's beer, live polka and German food.


Bentleyville Tour of Lights
Bentleyville Tour of Lights in Duluth / Photo by Dennis O'Hara/Northern Images Photography

Bentleyville Tour of Lights

A 128-foot animated tree, dozens of light displays and visits from Santa bring 200,000 people to Duluth’s Bayfront Festival Park between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve.

Night We Light

Known as the first city on the Mississippi, Bemidji brightens up the winter nights with an illuminated parade and tree-lighting ceremony the day after Thanksgiving.

Frost Fest

Kick off the holiday season in Baudette with a craft fair, downtown window walk and a light parade featuring floats and fish houses.

Hmong New Year

Sample some delicious food and enjoy a wide variety of entertainment at this three-day celebration of Hmong culture in St. Paul.


Winter Walk in Northfield
Winter Walk in Northfield / Courtesy of Visit Northfield


Find handmade gifts at the craft show and take in performances at the historic Palace Theatre in southern Luverne the first weekend in December.

Winter Walk

Stroll through charming downtown Northfield by candlelight, where you’ll find Santa, Rudolph, horse-drawn wagon rides, carolers and holiday shopping galore.

Ice Candle Celebration

A holiday gathering with food, kids crafts and fellowship takes place in the Iron Range town of Embarrass, where ice candles are lit to remember loved ones in the Finnish tradition.