In the handful of years since I’ve taken up cross-country skiing, I’ve begun to pay more attention to our Minnesota winter weather, and I remember more details about each year, too. Take, for example, the winter of 2011-2012, when we barely had any snow so, rather than being able to ski my heart out, during that mild February I began training for Grandma’s Marathon. Then there was the winter of 2010-2011, when snow was bountiful, and during that giant dump of a first snowfall, my Volvo, being so low to the ground, got stuck for two days just three blocks from home. Rather than walk back to my house, I pulled the equipment from my trunk and skied down the middle of the street instead.
The conclusion I’ve arrived at is that, whether it’s global warming or simply yearly variations, there’s no typical Minnesota winter—although January always seems so bitterly cold. While we did suffer through a deep freeze earlier in the month, the temps now are downright friendly, and just in time to enjoy some great outdoor events. Here are a few of my picks to carry you through til February rolls in.
Clockwise from right: Ice Castles at MOA in 2013, volunteering at the Winter Beer Dabbler is serious business, a magical nightscape at the Luminary Loppet, the hustle and bustle of Uptown during City of Lakes Loppet events.
Saint Paul Winter Carnival
Between the searching for the Medallion, Red Bull Crashed Ice events, the Beer Dabbler in a new location, the Securian Winter Run, and Music in the Park, there are a hundred ways to keep occupied during the ten days of Winter Carnival, between January 22 and February 1. Check the website for daily activities, and be sure to check out the ice sculptures.
City of Lakes Loppet
Nothing gives a better visual of how many skiers reside in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas—whether duffer, aficionado, or somewhere in between—than the City of Lakes Loppet which takes place during the last weekend in January. It’s a great place for kiddos, skijorers and fat-tire bikers, too, with activities and competitions for all skill levels. And for those just looking to learn more about winter activities throughout the state and region, vendor village houses representatives of parks, resorts, outfitters and more, and more. While our scant snow cover makes conditions questionable this year, the Loppet crew always finds a way to make do, and I’m sure this year will be no exception. Visit their website for trail conditions, schedule of events, maps, and to purchase tickets for the Luminary Loppet on Saturday, January 31.
Two years ago, a bubbly-looking, multi-hued, sprawling ice castle took over a section of parking lot near the Mall of America for three weeks; this year, the structure moves to Eden Prairie for a longer stint, until March 7 (weather permitting). Originally conceived of and created by a dad named Brent, ,whose goal was to create an ice rink during the first winter his family spent in Utah after relocating from California: “Brent went to work on an ice rink in the back yard….but not just any old ice rink. This first-time ice rink came complete with a 20′ slide, an ice cave, and a castle like tower reaching 20 feet into Utah’s rocky mountain sky. His children affectionately called it the ‘Ice Castle.’” This year’s Eden Prairie Ice Castle boasts 20,000,000 pounds of ice to explore – walk, squeeze, slide, and crawl (the squeeze, slide, and crawl are optional!). Located in Miller Park near the intersection of Highway 212 and Eden Prairie Road, the venue is open daily from 2-9pm, with extended hours on weekends. Learn more about the event’s history, organizations that benefit from the proceeds, and purchase tickets online.
Let’s face it, though: Some of us just aren’t cut out for outdoor winter fun. For you, there’s TwinsFest this week, OmniFest at the Science Museum of Minnesota through the end of February, or, for some real excitement, World’s Toughest Rodeo at Xcel Energy Center January 30-31.
Angela Anderson, 612-396-3654
Licensed Associate Working with Sharlene Hensrud of RE/MAX Results, and HomesMSP — Sharlene, John, Angela