A time-honored, hometown tradition
5 Reasons to Attend the Saint Paul Winter Carnival
It’s the most wonderful time of the year—the annual Saint Paul Winter Carnival is here! This great Minnesota get-together (winter edition!) is a time-honored tradition following the centuries-old legend of King Boreas—and is arguably one of the best ways to enjoy winter in Saint Paul!
The Saint Paul Winter Carnival is a century-long tradition based here in the capital city, encompassing a 10-day festival centered on the legend of the eldest King Boreas and his brothers. As “King of the Winds,” Boreas assigned each of his brothers a place in the winds: Titan was assigned the blustery North Wind, Euros reigned over the irresponsible East Wind, Zephyrus was granted power of the bountiful West Wind, and Notos took over the balmy South Wind. Meanwhile, Boreas’ greatest enemy, Vulcanus Rex, resisted all efforts of a winter celebration. This resistance resulted in a push-back by King Boreas, creating what we now know today as the Saint Paul Winter Carnival.
This year’s festivities will kick off on Thursday, Jan. 26 with the “Light Up the Park” event in Rice Park, and will continue through Sunday, Feb. 5. There are countless reasons to pay homage to this time-honored, hometown tradition — here are just a few:
1. New Events Every Year
This year, the carnival is introducing several new events that will be added to the already-packed agenda. Some new pre-carnival activities include the Saint Paul Winter Carnival Helicopter Ride & Dinner at Holman's Table. Dine the night away and then take flight over Saint Paul to view the Carnival from above.
Want to partake in one of the largest meat-raffles this side of the Mississippi? Don't miss the Star Tribune Steak Out - new to Winter Carnival this year. Get the chance to win some free meat and enjoy a night of revelry featuring delicious meat raffles and other fun activities including hot dish samples from Apostle Supper Club!
Also new this year is Vocal Interpretations, a lip-syncing competition that will bring together the best of the best for an epic showdown.
Lastly, the Landmark Plaza will be hosting Purse Bingo, where coveted designer bags are the prizes. Check out the full calendar of both new events and traditional favorites on the Winter Carnival website.
2. Family Fun for Everyone
The annual Winter Carnival is the perfect place for family fun, with a multitude of all-ages winter activities to choose from.
Nearly all carnival events welcome children, with certain ones dedicated to children alone.
On Feb. 4, the Landmark Center will host Kids and Family Day, featuring cultural entertainers, booths from local businesses, and great giveaways.
There are also two parades—one during the day and one at night—that present opportunities to see the royal court in all its glory.
For a more interactive experience, check out one of the many scavenger hunts happening during the festival.
3. Friendly Competitions
Many of the events throughout the festival encourage a good dose of ol’ healthy competition—most notably, the annual button-designing contest. This year, local artist Geno Okok took home first place, and his designs are available for sale both in advance and during the carnival.
Winter Carnival Royalty is another great competition where contenders work for the opportunity to represent the carnival for a full year—the new court is selected at the annual coronation ceremony.
Other contests include the Ice Sculpture and Snow Sculpture competitions, a magical winter tradition that dates back to the very first Winter Carnival.
The 2023 Multi-Block Ice Carving Competition will take place on Jan. 26 at Rice Park, and the Snow Park at the Fair begins on Jan. 27 at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, where visitors can watch sculptors in action throughout the festival.
4. 137-Year-Long Tradition
When considering how long the Saint Paul Winter Carnival has taken place, it seems only fair to recognize and honor the tradition and community pride.
For more than a century—137 years, to be exact—the people of Saint Paul have gathered during the coldest months of the year (something only Minnesotans would do, right?) to celebrate the season that is so often overlooked.
As the oldest winter festival in the United States, the Winter Carnival is a unique opportunity to showcase all the beauty of Minnesota winters.
5. Support the Saint Paul Community
Attracting more than 100,000 visitors each year—creating a significant economic impact to the city of Saint Paul and the state of Minnesota—the carnival relies on sponsors, fundraisers, and donations.
The Saint Paul Festival and Heritage Foundation, a nonprofit membership organization, organizes and carries out the annual celebration, including the many activities and events that take place over the course of the 10-day event.
By attending the festival, your support leaves an important impression on the city—not only commemorating its storied history and traditions but by bringing community together through kinship and pride.
But First, Brunch
Enjoy quality time with family and friends and fuel up for a day of fun at one of these local brunch hot spots in Saint Paul.