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A Can't-Miss Winter Extravaganza 132 Years in the Making

Saint Paul’s winter activities and variety of attractions make it the ideal destination for a Minnesota getaway. Visitors will love the city’s selection of cold-weather events like the Saint Paul Winter Carnival, Red Bull Crashed Ice, and Wells Fargo WinterSkate. When people are ready for a reprieve from the cold, Saint Paul offers an eclectic mix of art and entertainment venues such as the Ordway Center for Performing Arts and Minnesota Museum of American Art.


The Saint Paul Winter Carnival has been the leading winter celebration in Minnesota since 1886, and it will take place January 25 - February 10 in downtown Saint Paul. This family-friendly extravaganza boasts nearly 50 events and a variety of fun and entertaining attractions. Rice Park is the epicenter of the event and attendees will have the opportunity to visit an ice sculpture garden, watch parades, listen to live music and participate in a variety of themed events. Residing in Rice Park and making it’s highly anticipated return to the carnival is the Ice Palace which will include more than 4,000 blocks of ice and rise 70 feet above the park. The Vulcan Snow Park is a must for snow lovers of all ages, and it features a giant snow slide, snow sculpture viewing and making, lawn mower races, and more. Are you looking for a challenge? Then try participating in the Securian Winter Run which includes a half marathon, 10K, 5K and New Kids Fun Run through Downtown Saint Paul. interviewed a representative from the Saint Paul Winter Carnival to learn more about this spectacular winter experience.


RAL: Tell me a little bit about the event.

SPWC: The Saint Paul Winter Carnival is produced by the Saint Paul Festival & Heritage Foundation and is gearing up for another fantastic year with more than four dozen events on the calendar, both traditional favorites, and new attractions. Most events will take place in downtown Saint Paul, in and around Rice Park and the Landmark Center, as well as at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.


RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?

SPWC: The Saint Paul Winter Carnival attracts over 250,000 visitors a year.


RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?

SPWC: All! It is a great, family-friendly festival to be enjoyed by all ages.


RAL: What makes this event unique?

SPWC: We celebrate and embrace winter and the outdoors – it is indeed the “Coolest Celebration on Earth™!”


RAL: What can I expect as an attendee?

SPWC: Here is a breakdown of our key events:

  • Jan. 25 – 27: Saint Paul Winter Carnival Multi-Block Ice Carving Contest in Rice Park

  • Friday, Jan. 27:  The Royal Coronation, beginning at 8 p.m. at Saint Paul RiverCentre

  • Jan. 25 – Feb. 11: Saint Paul Winter Carnival Vulcan Snow Park festivities including the Minnesota State Snow Sculpting Contest, Giant Slide, Polar Plunges and more

  • Jan. 26 – 28: Minnesota State Snow Sculpting Competition at the State Fairgrounds

  • Thursday, Jan. 25: Moon Glow Pedestrian Parade beginning at 6 p.m. at 401 Robert St. and culminating in Rice Park

    • The 2018 Grand Opening Ceremony for the Winter Carnival and Ice Palace will be held immediately following the parade

  • Saturday, Jan. 27:  King Boreas Grande Day Parade beginning at 2 p.m., along W. 7th

  • Sunday, Jan. 28: Vulcan Fun Day at Vulcan Snow Park, State Fairgrounds

  • Saturday, Feb. 10: Vulcan Victory Torchlight Parade starting at 5:30 p.m. in Lowertown and ending in Rice Park. Fireworks and the Overthrow of King Boreas follows the parade


RAL: Will there be any guest appearances?

SPWC: We will have visits by Olympians during Team USA WinterFest presented by Hershey’s on Saturday, Feb. 3 near Rice Park. Being that Minneapolis is hosting the Super Bowl on February 4, you never know who might stop in! We usually have celebrity grand marshals for our parades, too!


RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging?

SPWC: The Saint Paul Hotel, located across from Rice Park, is the most acclaimed hotel in the state. For some more great lodging options checkout


RAL: Does this event drive business to your local economy?

SPWC: Yes, our event has approximately 2-3 million dollar economic impact on the city of St. Paul and the State of Minnesota. It's so fun to visit with visitors from around the country and the world – people who come just for the Winter Carnival.


RAL: Does the event support a particular cause in the community?

SPWC: The Saint Paul Festival and Heritage Foundation is a non-profit membership organization that produces Minnesota’s Iciest and Spiciest festivals – Saint Paul Winter Carnival and Cinco de Mayo West Side Saint Paul. We rely on sponsors, fundraisers, donations, charitable gaming and our members to support our year-round activities.


Many of our events benefit charities in some way. Our Legend Characters (Royals, Klondike Kates, Vulcans) make hundreds of appearances each year at hospitals, senior homes, and other charitable organizations.  


RAL: Why should people come to your event?

SPWC: The 2018 Saint Paul Winter Carnival celebrates and embraces winter and has been making memories and experiences since 1886.


For more information about the Saint Paul Winter Carnival, please visit the event website.


Photography Credit: Darrin Johnson