This weekend is going to be one giant party in downtown St. Paul with more than 150,000 people taking in the festivities.
With that many people, you know that means traffic, lots and lots of traffic, both in the city itself and roads leading to the fun. Congestion is likely, so free rides offered on public transportation might be the best way to go. Or take a free shuttle. Parking will be a challenge for those who drive, so be prepared.
On the upside, at least there is no major road work to speak of.
The major draw is the Red Bull Crashed Ice, an event Friday and Saturday in which skaters whiz down a twisting 1,600-foot-long ice track with a drop of 12 stories in front of the Cathedral of Saint Paul. That coincides with the Winter Carnival, including Saturday's Torchlight Parade. The Xcel Energy hosts the World's Toughest Rodeo on Friday and Saturday nights.
Here are some things to consider when getting around:
In St. Paul, W. 7th Street will be closed from Walnut Street to Kellogg from noon Saturday until 1 a.m. Sunday. Other affected roads will be John Ireland Blvd, Dayton Avenue, Marshall Avenue, Old Kellogg Boulevard, Summit Avenue, Mulberry Street, Selby Avenue, and Louis Street.
Parking will be at a premium, and it could be costly, too. Rates will run from $10 to $30 depending on the ramp or lot you use. Plan on $20 at St. Paul College (enter on Concordia Avenue), the Minnesota History Center and the Sears store off Marion Street. For free parking, try the State Capitol lots H and J. Note that there is no public parking onsite at Red Bull Crashed Ice.
A number of St. Paul restaurants will open their lots and provide free shuttles to the high-flying skating races. They include O'Gara's, Billy's on Grand, Moose Country, Shamrock's, Station 280, Tavern on the Avenue, Tiffany Sports Lounge, the Wild Onion, Gabe's By the Park, the Library and Two Stoog. Shuttles also will run from Cowboy Jack's locations in Bloomington, Woodbury, New Brighton and downtown Minneapolis. The St. Paul Convention and Visitors Bureau has a map showing shuttle locations.
Free rides also will be available on Metro Transit buses and light rail lines from Noon Saturday until 1 a.m. To get your free ride, simply download and print your transit pass here, then show the pass to your bus driver or Transit Police officer.
Over in Minneapolis, the Wolves are home against Memphis at 8 p.m. Saturday at Target Center.
Look for closures on Theodore Wirth Parkway between Golden Valley Road and Hwy. 55 due to the City of Lakes Loppet Ski Festival and Races. Closures will be in effect from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday, according to the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board.