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Explore Minnesota
Top winter festivals for visitors to embrace the season this year

Explore Minnesota, the state's tourism promotion office, announces 10 of the top winter festivals for visitors to embrace the season this year. In addition to Minnesota's bold outdoor activities like ice fishing, skijoring and biking, the state hosts hundreds of festivals and events for travelers to experience the wonder of winter. Find even more winter happenings and destinations at exploreminnesota.com.


1. The Great Northern (January 25 – February 5)

An annual 10-day celebration of cold, bold and creative winters in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul, The Great Northern welcomes crowds of local and national visitors to indoor/outdoor events spotlighting winter traditions like pond hockey, cross-country skiing and skijoring, along with the thriving cultural, culinary and artistic communities in Minnesota.


2. IceBox Days (January 26 – 29)

The annual IceBox Days in International Falls has been nationally recognized for its wacky games and activities like frozen turkey bowling, along with 5K and 10K races, moonlight snowshoe hikes in Voyageurs National Park, and the IceBox Days-exclusive "Smoosh Races."


3. Saint Paul Winter Carnival (January 26 – February 4)

The Saint Paul Winter Carnival has been a capital city tradition since 1886. Thousands of revelers head downtown Saint Paul to enjoy the daytime Grande Day Parade and the nighttime Torchlight Parade along with ice sculpture carving and fireworks. There's also an outdoor beer festival, snow sculpting competition and snow fun at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.


4. Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza (January 28)

Even if you don't ice fish, you can still celebrate this Minnesota tradition in a big way at the Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza, one of the world's largest contests. Hosted each January on Gull Lake, the tournament pulls in 10,000 anglers from around the world to compete for more than $150,000 in cash and prizes.


5. Hygge Festival (February 4 – 14)

Hygge (the Danish ritual of embracing life's simple pleasures in winter) is the focus of the annual Hygge Festival in Grand Marais, where visitors enjoy cozy lodging along the North Shore of Lake Superior and activities like fondue nights, saunas, bonfires, dogsled tours, snowshoe hikes and more.


6. Polar Fest (February 10 – 26)

Home to an illuminated ice palace for exploring, Polar Fest in Detroit Lakes also features a "hotdish" cooking challenge, ice golf, snowmobile and ice fishing derbies, and more to celebrate winter in Minnesota lake country.


7. Bold & Cold  (January 27 – 29)

Taking place throughout the charming downtown of Owatonna, the Bold & Cold festival includes a medallion hunt, ice fishing, candlelight skiing, fat bike races and snow sculpture competitions.


8. Ely Winter Festival and Art Walk (February 2 – 12)

Snow sculptures and other artwork will be on display throughout the town of Ely during the 10-day Ely Winter Festival and Art Walk. The event celebrates the culture, art, history and traditions of this northwoods town adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, an International Dark Sky Sanctuary for prime night sky viewing.  


9. Chilly Open (February 11)

A short drive from the Twin Cities, the Chilly Open in Wayzata features three nine-hole courses on a frozen Lake Minnetonka and more than 1,700 golfers. Players and onlookers enjoy free food, snowga (snow yoga), snowkiting (kite skiing), dog sled rides and the 19th-hole tent.


10. Bock Fest (March 4)

Toast the coming of spring during Bock Fest in March at Schell's Brewery in the German community of New Ulm. In addition to beer, brats, live music and bonfires, visitors can hunt for the Seven Bocks of Winter hidden around the historic brewery grounds. 


For more seasonal events, visit exploreminnesota.com, live chat or call 888-VISITMN to speak with a Minnesota travel expert, or explore social media with #OnlyinMN.

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