5 Unique Minnesota Winter Events

Consistently ranked as one of the healthiest and fittest cities in the United States, the Twin Cities offer a plethora of bike trails, walking paths, and winter activities to keep us active, even when it’s 40 degrees below zero. Minnesotans are creative in finding ways to make winter enjoyable. We don’t just try to get through winter, we make this season beautiful and fun! Here is a round-up of five unique events that happen across Minnesota every winter.

1. Wayzata Chilly Open, Wayzata

This event is the largest and most unusual golf tournament you’ll ever find! The Wayzata Chilly Open takes place on frozen Lake Minnetonka, and it actually started back in 1984! You’ll find three 9-hole courses mapped out on the ice, plus snowga (yoga on the frozen lake), an ice skating rink, and endless bowls of delicious chili! This event truly captures the uniqueness and boldness of the Minnesota winter spirit.

2. Luminary Loppet, Minneapolis

This one-night event on Lake of the Isles is really magical. You’ll find thousands of ice globes lit up with candles all across the frozen lake, talented fire dancers, live music, Surly beer, apple cider, and cozy fire pits. There are also groomed cross-country trails that circle the lake. It’s a very family-friendly winter event.

3. Ice Castles, New Brighton

There are a few ice castles across Minnesota, and this year I was able to check out the ice castles in New Brighton. This unique experience is built using hundreds of thousands of icicles hand-placed by professional ice artists. The castles include LED-lit ice sculptures, frozen thrones, ice-carved tunnels, slides, fountains, and much more. You can enjoy these castles during the day in the sunshine, or go at night when everything is lit up.

things to do in stillwater minnesota
things to do in stillwater minnesota

4. Ice Palace Maze, Stillwater

Another great winter event is the Ice Palace Maze in Stillwater. It’s a great event for adults and children. The maze is made up of 1,500 ice blocks, which create a half-mile of passages with walls as tall as eight feet. There are also two big slides 36 feet tall made entirely of ice! As you walk through the maze, the ice blocks change colors and along the way, you’ll see ice sculptures. After you find your way through the maze, stop by the ice bar for drinks, or sit by the fire pits to warm up and make s’mores. Stillwater has so many unique things going on during the winter season. Check out my blog post here to learn more.

Epic things to do in Rochester Minnesota
Things to do in Rochester Minnesota
Best things to do in Rochester Minnesota

5. SocialICE, Rochester

Downtown Rochester transforms into an icy oasis for SocialICE! Unique themed ice bars each with their own signature drink, and giant ice sculptures light up the dark winter night. There’s also live DJ entertainment, plus food for purchase. Note: In 2022, the event has been pushed back to March 3-5 due to the increase in COVID cases. Because of that, it’s being temporarily renamed Social Lights.

Winter in Minnesota is Magical

Winter in Minnesota can be quite spectacular. If you have the right clothing, and the right mindset, there are so many fun and unique things to do. If you’re looking for more winter inspiration check out my blog post on 37 unique winter things to do, take a winter trip to Lutsen Mountains and go skiing, or find a park near you to go cross-country skiing. Happy adventuring!


  • Josy A

    This is all so cool! Literally! 😉

    It’s pretty awesome that the Twin Cities are ranked as one of the healthiest and fittest cities in the United States despite the chill! As it would be easy to stay in and hibernate all winter with those temps. I love that you have so many fun ice-related adventures and activities to tempt you outside!

  • Karen

    What fun things to do in winter! When I lived in Minnesota I was always impressed how everyone got out to enjoy the cold. Would love to play in the ice maze and pull up to the ice bars.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *