If you’re heading to the Twin Cities for the Super Bowl and want to immerse yourselves in Minnesota snow culture, then there’s no way better way than to head to the Great Northern Festival. The festival, a Twin Cities tradition, runs for 10 days, from Jan. 25 through game day, Feb. 4, and is jam-packed with family friendly outdoor winter events.
If your kids like to ice skate or play hockey then you won’t want to miss the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships, running from, Friday Jan. 26 – Sunday Jan. 28. on Lake Nokomis. The fun for kids and families starts a day early, however, and you won’t want to miss it. On Thurs. Jan. 25, Youth Night on the Pond championship organizers will let kids take over the Lake Nokomis U.S. Pond Hockey Championships (USPHC) rink from 6 to 9 p.m for friendly competition with “no referees, no rigid rules.” The tournament, a celebration of the way organizers believe the game should be played — out in the wild! — runs from Friday through Sunday from 8 am to 5 pm (for exact hours, check schedule).
Come Super Bowl weekend, if you’re not planning to spend the whole day over at Super Bowl Experience, the Luminary Loppet cross-country ski festival Super Bowl weekend offers skiers of all ages and abilities the chance to enjoy a uniquely beautiful urban course with candlelit trails, an illuminated ice forest — even a concert of instruments carved entirely from ice! Minneapolis is the northernmost city to ever host a Super Bowl. All that ice and the frigid temps of the Bold North will keep things pretty chill so you and the kids will want to keep moving. Some options:
Minne-Loppet: On Saturday at 4 pm, the the Minnesota Youth Ski League will provide ski equipment to kid contenders in the Minne-Loppet, a cross-country ski competition, which gives kids the option to run a 1.5 or 3 km course. Both courses begin near Lake Calhoun Center on Lake Calhoun and finish at Loppet Village. Organizers promise everyone will leave feeling like a winner — with medal (and hot cocoa in hand).
Loppet Age Gap Relays on Saturday at 5 pm is a freestyle tandem ski relay competition for kids (15 and under) and adults. Competing together, the kid–grown-up pairs will each ski two short legs. To keep things fair and fun, competitors ski in classes governed by the age of the child! Get tickets here.
Loppet Tour Classic and Skate on Saturday and Sunday, Super Bowl game day, this point-to-point event begins at 10:30 a.m. in Wirth Park and follows the shortest path to Loppet Village in Uptown. The true meaning of “free style,” the Saturday Classic allows skiers of all ages to ski any way they please to the finish. But if your family likes to race, the Sunday event is specifically designed for skate skiers— who in a motion very similar to roller-blading or ice skating, propel themselves forward by pushing off the edge of the ski. To register for all Loppet events click here.
More Frozen Fun in the Twin Cities
Things can get pretty chilly in the Bold North. All the more reason why a little hot air can’t be such a bad thing, especially when it comes to the Hudson Hot Air Affair, the premiere Midwest winter 25-year-old ballooning festival, which this year is happening a week early, from Jan. 26 to 28 in order to coincide with Super Bowl week festivities.
Hot air balloons ascending en masse, an evening torchlight parade and daily balloon launches are a magic spectacle kids won’t forget. But chances to get active on the ground should prove memorable too thanks to these events:
Fun Run/Walk: UP, UP & AWAY 5K FUN RUN/WALK at Mt. Zion Lutheran Church is planned for Saturday, Jan. 27. Registration on race day is available beginning at 9 am at the church. Pre-register at hudsonhotairaffair.com.
Smoosh Board Competition: A Hot Air Affair Tradition, the smoosh board competition back in the old days had entrants racing in groups of 4 down the hill with their tennis shoes nailed to two-by-fours. Now the boards are wider and many times custom made but the fun’s the same. Competition will take place at E.P. Rock school grounds. Call 715-386-1155 to register; cost is $10 per team. Prizes for best team in competition plus best “Touchdown Hudson XXIX” costumes. Smoosh boards available.
Ice Fishing: On Sunday, Jan. 28, from 2–4:00 pm, the Lake Mallalieu Kids Ice Fishing Derby, sponsored by BMO Harris Bank, is ON at the southwest bay of Lake Mallalieu for kids ages 6-12. Mentors and loaner equipment will be available to help beginners get the hang of it.
Slip and slide: What’s 16 feet high, more than 300 feet long and snowy fun all over? The Vulcan Snow Park Giant Snow Slide! A Vulcan Snow Park crowd fave, the snow slide is open for sledding 5 to 9 pm on weekdays, 9 am to 9 pm on Saturdays, and 9 am to 7 pm on most Sundays — except for Super Bowl Sunday, when it will close at 4 pm to get everyone home for the big game. And if you want to check out the competition, from Jan. 25-Feb. 10, CHS Field, home of the St. Paul Saints baseball team, will be transformed into a giant snow slide. Beginning on the second story patio of the Securian Club, the slide will plunge sledders down a snowy inner tube over the stadium seating bowl into the infield. The Super Slide is open Tuesday through Friday, from 5 to 9 pm, Saturday 10 am – 10 pm, Sunday noon to 6 pm. To purchase tickets click here.
Saint Paul Winter Carnival: On Tuesday Jan. 30, take a break from homework — and cooking dinner — grab your skates and head to Saint Paul’s Rice Park, from 5 to 8 pm, for Frozen Family Fun Night. Fuel up at one of the food trucks, check out the ice carvings or live performers, then get in some ice skating at the Wells Fargo WinterSkate.
The family fun continues at Rice Park and the Landmark Center on Sat. Feb. 3 from noon to 11 pm with the Saint Paul Winter Carnival Family Day. Rice Park will be buzzing with activities with the MN Made Market, ice sculpture garden and live carvings, and live music. Plus, meet Olympic gold medalists and athletes at the Olympic Team USA’s Winterfest in and around Rice Park! A multi-stop festival crisscrossing the country – on its way to Seoul – the fest is designed to allow fans in the U.S. a chance to get a feel for the energy and excitement of the Olympics and Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. The Bobsled Boomerang will give fans the chance to experience what it’s like to be in an Olympic bobsled. And the Team USA Curling Challenge will allow fans to test their curling skills.
Polar Bear Swim: In the true spirit of unified sports, Special Olympics Minnesota has invited everyone to take part in a Polar Plunge on Tuesday, Jan. 30 at the Verizon Up Stage at Ice Mountain. For those who want to work up a sweat before, the National Football League and Special Olympics Minnesota are hosting Unified Special Olympics Flag Football flag football game just before. Proceeds will go to support individuals with intellectual disabilities across the state. If you can’t make it during the week, the Vulcan Night Polar plunge is set for Super Bowl–eve, Feb. 3.