Last weekend, I took off visit my best friend in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she’s attending graduate school. Luckily, my visit lined up with the 133rd annual Saint Paul Winter Carnival! We jumped at the chance to visit and I am so incredibly happy we did. We were able to eat lots of delicious foods, watch locals create masterpieces made of ice and snow, and got to catch some live music. The best part? Visiting the Winter Carnival at Kellogg Mall Park and the Vulcan Snow Park at the Minnesota State Fair Grounds was totally free! There was also a third event area in Landmark Plaza, but we chose not to visit it since it was mostly for memorabilia displays.
Ice Carving at Kellogg Mall Park
We chose to visit the Kellogg Mall Park first, as the ice carving competition was going on and we wanted to see it before the sun went down! The competition had already been on for a few hours by the time we got there. Teams from all over and of all talent levels braved the cold and came to carve ice sculptures. Icicles had formed in many of their beards, but they kept on trucking! There were sculptures made up of small blocks that were put together and sculptures that were out of one large block of ice. Be sure to grab a picture with the Ice Throne before leaving the area! Warning: the seat is super slick (it’s ice), so try not to fall off.
Walking around in the cold had us craving something warm to drink. Luckily, there were tons of food stands scattered around the edges of the park! We grabbed hot chocolate and cheese curds and headed to the Bailey’s Warming House to defrost and eat! The band stage is set up right by the Warming House, so we were able to watch the band play. In fact, the Winter Carnival has brought in all sorts of bands to entertain guests. While we chose not to drink any alcohol at the event, there were several ice bars scattered around the park.
Snow Sculptures at the Vulcan Snow Park
After taking in the ice carvings at Kellogg Mall Park, we caught an Uber to the Minnesota State Fairgrounds to check out the displays at the Vulcan Snow Park. The snow carving competition had also been going on that day, so we were able to see some of the completed smaller works and some of the teams still carving away at the larger ones! My favorite piece was a tongue in cheek work entitled “In the Beginning”, which was literally an uncarved block of snow. They didn’t win, but I feel they should’ve for the sheer wit of it. There was also a snow sandcastle, a Snoopy, several Minnesota themed carvings, a giant piggy bank, and a cool robot.
The Vulcan Snow Park houses tons of fun activities for small fees. There’s a giant snow slide that you can fly down, a super cool 9-hole mini-golf course, and more! Be sure to check out the full event calendar before you go. My favorite was the snow maze, which is guarded by a giant T-Rex with the Saint Paul Winter Carnival logo.
Need to Know
Y’all. It is COLD. I wore long johns, jeans, wool socks, boots, a tank top, sweater, thick coat, gloves, a scarf, and a fleece hat and I was still cold. If you think you’re wearing enough throw another layer on. The Vulcan Snow Park is colder than Kellogg Mall Park, so definitely plan to throw on another layer between visiting the two locations. Also, make sure your shoes have a good tread to them so you don’t slip on the ice and snow, which is basically abundant in Minnesota this time of year.
The Winter Carnival closes this Sunday (February 3). You can visit the ice sculptures at Kellogg Mall Park Saturday from 10am to 10pm and Sunday from 10am to 5pm. The snow sculptures at the Vulcan Snow Park are open 9am to 9pm on Saturday and Sunday. Make sure to get your visit in before these spaces close!
I absolutely adored visiting the Saint Paul Winter Carnival and hope to be able to visit again in future years! Have you ever attended any winter-centered event? Let me know about it in the comments below.