When the January winds are howling and the nights drop below zero, it can be difficult to think of good reasons to live where the air hurts your face. One of those reasons begins Thursday as the curtain rises on the 2016 St. Paul Winter Carnival.

Featuring a mini-ice palace, live music and ice carvings in Rice Park, as well as snow sculpting at the State Fairgrounds, the 130th version of the Winter Carnival runs through Feb. 7. Much of the celebration will be centered at Rice Park, including a family night with events for kids on Feb. 2 and a Feb. 3 Happy Hour decidedly for adults.

Eager participants can get started with Winter Carnival activities early, as Fat Bike Races are scheduled for Wednesday night at Keller Golf Course in Maplewood. The event is open to all and the course will be a combination of on-lake and on-land features. Go to www.fatwednesday.bike for details.

The mini-ice palace, named “the Palace of the Four Winds” in honor of King Boreas’ brothers, promises to add some chilly pizazz to the festival.

Live music in the park will be performed by Chris Hawkey, GB Leighton, Belfast Cowboys, Todd Hurst and other artists on the Nature’s Fury Entertainment Stage. Visit www.wintercarnival.com for a complete schedule of acts, activities and events.

If you’re a fan of Winter Carnival parades, this year’s festival features three, each ending in Rice Park. The first will be Thursday — the Moon Glow Pedestrian Parade beginning at 6 p.m. at 401 Robert St.

The next will be Saturday — King Boreas Grande Day Parade beginning at 2 p.m. along W. 7th. The last will be Saturday, Feb. 6 — the Vulcan Victory Torchlight Parade beginning at 5:30 p.m. in Lowertown.

Metro Transit is providing free transportation to the King Boreas Grande Day Parade on Saturday and the Vulcan Victory Torchlight Parade on Feb. 6.

To download and print a free pass, visit bit.ly/1Tm2Mff.

 

Partial schedule

• Jan. 28-31: Ice Carving Contest in Rice Park.

• Jan. 29: The Royal Coronation, beginning at 8 p.m. at RiverCentre.

• Jan. 29-Feb. 7: Vulcan’s Snow Park and Snowslide and Minnesota State Snow Sculpting Competition at the State Fairgrounds.

• Jan. 30: Securian Winter Run, 9 a.m. start at 6th & Jackson Sts.

• Jan. 31: King Boreas Winter Triathlon, a run/bike/ski event, will be at Phalen Golf Course and Parkland. It is the 2016 Winter Triathlon National Championships.

• Feb. 4-6: The Frozen Film Festival, celebrating independent film, will be presented in the Landmark Center. An awards ceremony will take place Feb. 7 at 1 p.m.