Many Minnesotans refuse to submit to Old Man Winter’s torture by remaining indoors all season long. When those Canadian clippers bring gusting winds and snow, we throw on a scarf and gloves and head out to make snow angels, forts or sculptures.

In the true spirit of freezing temperatures, Minneapolis and St. Paul’s beloved winter events have banded together to embrace the season with the Great Northern.

Now in its third year, the Great Northern (Jan. 24-Feb. 3) encourages Minnesotans to put on the required layers and venture outside for a series of sports, family events and entertainment.

Here’s a sample of highlights throughout the 10-day period. For a full schedule of events, visit

Boot Soccer Tournament

A lowbrow, no-nonsense sport. No keepers or cleats, just a game of five on five wearing snow boots as they maneuver the small field. Sixteen teams will compete and onlookers can enjoy music, food and definitely beer.

10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Jan. 27. Free. Surly Brewing Co. Festival Field, 520 Malcolm Av. SE., Mpls.

U.S. Pond Hockey Championships

Competitors leave behind the comforts of indoor ice and take to rinks on Lake Nokomis for a cold and gritty game of hockey out in the elements. Hockey enthusiasts can check out teams in the categories of rink rat, 40+, open, sled and cedar.

Jan. 24-27. Free. Lake Nokomis, 4955 E. Lake Nokomis Pkwy., Mpls.


Curling, the sport that features two people furiously sweeping trails for a gliding stone, is the star of this event put on by the Frogtown Curling Club. It’s a great chance to walk on pebbled ice and learn the rules and etiquette of the game. Those new to the sport who think they have what it takes to compete can form teams and sign up to take part in the club’s first beginner curling competition.

3-5:30 p.m. Jan. 26. Free. Biff Adams Arena, 743 N. Western Av., St. Paul.

City of Lakes Loppet

The urban cross-country ski festival has a new home this year. The Loppet Foundation recently completed its headquarters, called the Trailhead. The building is part of upgrades to Wirth Park in partnership between the Loppet Foundation and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. Held over four days, the festival includes skijor, dog sled, fat tire and cross-country ski events.

Jan. 31-Feb. 3. Wirth Park, 1301 Theodore Wirth Pkwy., Mpls.

St. Paul Winter Carnival

The Capital City’s ode to all things ice and snow features events for all ages. Those with rascally kids in tow can wear them out at the Vulcan Snow Park, family and kids’ days. Adults looking for an outing can enjoy a mug of hot mulled wine and other beverages at the ice bars. Other carnival attractions include the Saintly City Cat Show, parades and entertainment and activities at Kellogg Mall Park.

Jan. 24-Feb. 3. Events at various locations, go to for details.

Film Screenings

Make It. MSP., Jonathan JCP and the St. Paul Saints present an evening of conversation and community building. View the short films “Lure of the North,” the story of a musher family from Finland, Minn., and “Finding Hygge,” an exploratory documentary on the meaning of the Danish word.

6:30 p.m. Feb. 1. Free, RSVP requested. CHS Field, 360 Broadway, St. Paul.

Beta. MN

Not even unathletic nerds and entrepreneurs are left out of the Great Northern events. Billing Minnesota as the “Startup Capital of the North,” the Beta organization helps startups develop resources and relationships to scale their businesses. The group’s State of the State program features a panel of investors, media and founders who discuss the current state of tech in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

5:30 p.m. Jan. 29. Free. Studio 900, 900 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls.

Nicollet Mall Concert

In downtown Minneapolis there’s no such thing as too cold for an outdoor concert. Bundle up for a night of music by beat-driven duo Matt and Kim. There will also be outdoor games and activities. Giving crowds a taste of summer in the winter, partnering restaurants open their patios for the evening.

4:30-9:30 p.m. Jan. 31. Free. On Nicollet Mall from 9th to 11th streets.