135th Winter Carnival Announcement – Signature Events & New Twists


2021 Saint Paul Winter Carnival Planning Underway

135th Anniversary to Feature Signature Events with a Twist and New Activities

January 28 – February 7 

Event Will Feature A Drive-Thru Ice and Snow Sculpture Park  at Minnesota State Fairgrounds


Saint Paul, Minn. (October 21, 2020) — Organizers from the Saint Paul Festival and Heritage Foundation, the producers of the Winter Carnival, announce today that planning for the next “Coolest Celebration on Earth™” is well underway. Although, the Carnival will be different than in years past, it is sure to still be legendary.

The 2021 Saint Paul Winter Carnival will be held January 28 – February 7. This will be the festival’s 135th anniversary further fortifying the fact that it is the oldest winter festival in the United States. Changes have been made to accommodate protocols related to COVID-19 while still making it possible for the community to celebrate and embrace winter.

“The Winter Carnival was created in 1886 to show the world how Saint Paul embraces winter,” says Deb Schaber, President and CEO of the Saint Paul Festival and Heritage Foundation. “We believe we’ve created a schedule of events for our 135th anniversary that our Carnival creators would be proud of and our current day fans can enjoy safely. The majority of our 2021 events will be held outdoors and all will abide by COVID-19 required protocols such as social distancing and mask wearing.”


Traditions with A Twist

Some of Winter Carnival’s annual events are being revised or removed due to the pandemic. The organization is not able to host the traditional parades or hold events in Rice Park because of crowd size limitations. However, there will still be plenty of opportunities for safe fun for all ages in Saint Paul and beyond. Here are some highlights of the cool happenings that are in the works including new twists on signature events, virtual opportunities, and activities to get people outdoors and exploring our great City of Saint Paul. *

  • Drive-Thru Ice and Snow Sculpture Park at Minnesota State Fairgrounds

Combining two signature Winter Carnival events – the Ice Carving Competition and the Snow Sculpture Contest – this drive-thru experience will take place at the State Fairgrounds each day during the Carnival.

Upon entering, each car will receive a swag bag, bingo card, and the chance to purchase some treats to enjoy during the ride. Dozens of visual stops will showcase snow and ice masterpieces sculpted by local artisans, many of whom have participated in past Winter Carnival contests. Attendees will be able to vote on their favorite creations.  

The Winter Carnival Ice Carvings will move from Rice Park to the Fairgrounds to create the Ice and Snow Sculpture Park. And, once again, the Winter Carnival Vulcans will manage the snow sculpture attraction. As in years past, the Vulcans will coordinate the snow making and the annual Snow Stomp event used to create the huge blocks for artists to sculpt their snowy works of art. The Vulcans, as well as the Royal Family and Klondike Kates, are expected make several appearances at the drive-thru.

  • Winter Carnival Music Series

In tune with the times, the annual Winter Carnival Music Series is going on the road and will be popping up outdoors at parking lots and establishments around Saint Paul. This format will give us an opportunity to support local restaurants, breweries and entertainment venues while continuing the Winter Carnival Music Series. The concert sites will serve the food and drinks and Carnival will bring the entertainment – and our famous Ice Bar.

  • Virtual Winter Carnival Family Days

For both Saturdays during Carnival (January 30 and February 6), families can gather ‘round their computers and smart TVs in the comfort and safety of their homes to participate in our Family Day activities. Each day’s schedule will be filled with entertaining performances, educational seminars, arts and crafts lessons, storytelling sessions, and much more. This content will go live on our website, Facebook page, and YouTube channel and then be available for “re-runs” forever.   

  • Securian Financial Winter Run

Another Carnival tradition and Foundation fundraiser, the Securian Financial Winter Run, will take place on Saturday, Jan. 30 with a 5K around Lake Phalen. Runners can also participate virtually with 5K, 10K and a Half Marathon.

  • Frozen Family Fun Night

Bundle up the kids and join us outside to embrace winter! This all-ages event at Keg and Case will include entertaining performances, visits by snow princesses, a bonfire, and family-friendly activities. The Winter Carnival Junior Royalty Court and other special guests will stop by to join the fun.

  • Winter Carnival Puzzle Competitions – In-Person and Virtual

We’ve pieced together a new way for people to participate in the enormously popular Winter Carnival Puzzle Contest. On Sunday, Jan. 31, a virtual puzzle contest will be conducted via Zoom. Teams will be able to compete against each other remotely and in the comfort of their own homes. The traditional Saint Paul Winter Carnival Puzzle Contest, known as the nation’s largest, will take place in-person and socially-distanced at Landmark Center on the morning of Saturday, January 30. As of today, 180 teams of four have already registered!

  • Softball Tournament

We’re brrrrrrringing back a classic hit from Carnival’s history – the Winter Carnival Softball Tournament. Games will be held outdoors on a snowy St. Paul ballfield (site to be determined) on Saturday, Feb. 6. Registration will begin in January. Sign up and batter up or catch a game on the sidelines.

  • Saint Paul Scavenger Hunt

Winter Carnival fans will be able to take part in three different scavenger hunts: Family Friendly Explore Saint Paul Parks, Saint Paul History & Landmarks, and Local Fun & Attractions. The Winter Carnival Scavenger Hunt will allow folks to have some socially distanced fun while learning about the great City of Saint Paul.


2021 Saint Paul Winter Carnival Buttons

One of Minnesota’s most popular and recognized artists, Adam Turman, is designing the 135th Anniversary Winter Carnival button collection. Turman will take his bold and colorful style to create four buttons that will be unveiled and on sale in early December. The sale of the commemorative buttons is the largest fundraiser for the Saint Paul Festival and Heritage Foundation.


Saint Paul Winter Carnival Legend Characters

Traditionally, the Saint Paul Winter Carnival Legend Characters make hundreds of appearances each year representing the City across the state and the country by participating in parades, appearing at charity events, and making visits to senior centers and schools. Due to the pandemic, the 2020 Royal Family, Vulcans, and Klondike Kate did not have the opportunity to practice their parade wave, meet new friends in the community, or travel to other festivals. So, Boreas and his court, Vulcanus Rex and his Krewe, and Kate will all reign for another year. The Klondike Kates are also marking a special anniversary in 2021, their 50th year!


Volunteers Needed

The Saint Paul Winter Carnival relies on hundreds of volunteers in order for the events to be a success. Leading up to and throughout Carnival, there are numerous opportunities to donate your time and talent. Please visit our website (wintercarnival.com/get-involved/volunteer/) or contact volunteer@spfhf.org to join the team.


About the Saint Paul Festival and Heritage Foundation and the Saint Paul Winter Carnival

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. The Saint Paul Winter Carnival was started in 1886 and is the oldest winter festival in the United States. It relies on sponsors, fundraisers, donations, charitable gaming, and foundation members to support its year-round activities. The Saint Paul Winter Carnival attracts more than 250,000 visitors a year and has an approximate $3 – $5 million economic impact to the City of Saint Paul and the State of Minnesota. Visit wintercarnival.com for more information and to learn how you can support future Winter Carnival celebrations by becoming a member.  


Social Media Channels

Facebook – /stpaulwinter

Twitter – @StPaulWinter

Instagram – @stpaulwintercarnival

Hashtag – #wintercarnival


*Event details subject to change.

Media Contact:     Molly Mulvehill Steinke, Nemer Fieger, molly@nemerfieger.com, 612-309-1677