Family Guide to the St. Paul Winter Carnival

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If you’re like most parents in the Twin Cities area, between December and March you’re looking for something, anything really, to do with your kids to get out of the house and not spend an arm and a leg. We’ve got some tips on a mid-winter miracle you’ll want to check out.

The Saint Paul Winter Carnival is a 132-year-old tradition that brings fun and festivities to Minnesota’s often dreary months of winter. This coming year the carnival will be from January 24-February 3, 2019. All events are free unless specified. You can go and enjoy much of what is offered at little-to-no cost.

You’ll find parades, live performers, and ice sculpture and jigsaw puzzle competitions. There are entertainment and activities for your whole family with everything decked out in lights and full of fun!

Before you pack the crew in the car and head on over, you need to plan for parking and crowds. We all know that kids add time to traveling. The last thing you want to do is spend an hour driving around looking for that perfect parking spot or park miles away from the event.

General Information for the Saint Paul Winter Carnival

The Saint Paul Winter Carnival offers guaranteed reserved parking through SpotHero.com, ranging in cost from $7 to $30. It’s a worthwhile investment to smooth out your day. Non-reserved parking rates are around $10-$20, so in some cases, the reserved parking is more discounted.

Parents who attended previous years at the Winter Carnival all mentioned the crowds being an issue with which you have to contend. It’s a good idea to come prepared with a plan should one of your kids venture too far.

There is ten days’ worth of events to enjoy in Saint Paul. We’ve highlighted the activities most likely to keep you and your kids entertained and having a blast!

Kids’ Day at the St. Paul Carnival

Saturday, January 26th, is the day to get the kids in comfy layers for a full day of indoor and outdoor kid-friendly activities at the Landmark Center and Kellogg Mall Park.

If you and your family are up for a little competition, check out the 2019 Saint Paul Winter Carnival Puzzle Contest! One of the Winter Carnival’s most popular events, the Puzzle Contest includes a Family Division. You and your family can work together to complete a jigsaw puzzle as fast as possible.

There are prizes given for first, second, and third place. You have to pre-register for a $50 fee. Space is limited, so put your thinking caps on to decide if puzzling is for you and your kiddos.

The official Kids’ Day events, from 2:00 pm-6:00 pm, are hosted by the Saint Paul YMCA. There is live kid-friendly entertainment. There are also fitness classes, and lots of fun, interactive activities for kids of all ages. It is sure to be a memorable and exciting day for the whole family.

Grand Day Parade

Don’t miss out on the King Boreas Grand Day Parade, led by the newly-crowned King Boreas and other royal family members. The parade is sure to get you up and moving with dozens of marching bands, floats, and other exciting parade folks.

You and your kids will enjoy it from start to finish. The parade is scheduled to last from 2:00 pm-4:00 pm so be sure you’re all bundled if it’s cold. Come armed with snacks to keep your hungry hoards fed.  

Vulcan Fun Day at the St. Paul Carnival

On Sunday, January 27 from 9:00 am-3:00 pm, head on over to the Minnesota State Fairgrounds for a jam-packed day of snow fun. You’ll want to put on all your snow gear and bring dry clothes for after. There are larger porta potties available for changing clothes.

Have plans for refueling your kids so they can enjoy the vigorous activities at the Vulcan Snow Park. And don’t forget snacks and food for Mom and Dad! Prefer to eat out? Here’s a quick guide from Eater Twin Cities on some local cuisine to enjoy.

The Vulcan Fun Day includes a kids’ snow treasure hunt. Especially if you have younger children, this is a great event to try to attend. If your kiddo can walk and dig with a shovel, then they can participate in this seek-and-find extravaganza.  It starts at 11:00 am- till 3:00 pm. Or until they run out of “treasures” to find. Prizes include candy, coins, small toys and more.

The Giant Snow Slide is great for everyone in the family to have fun sledding down the 300-foot long slide. Sleds are provided. Each run is $2 or free with a non-perishable food item donation.

Be sure to check the Vulcan Snow Park website before making your way to the park to check on times for the slide and weather conditions, all of which can change.

Other activities to check out while you’re there:   

  • fire truck rides by the Saint Paul Vulcans,
  • photo ops with the Royal Family 
  • Vulcan Krewe.
  • Don’t forget to view and vote on your favorite ice sculptures.

It’s a good idea to review the Visitor Safety Information before entering the park, so you’re aware of the potential dangers with on-site mechanical equipment and icy walkways.

Armed with that information and your favorite snow gear, you and your kids are sure to be knee-deep in snow-day fun!

Family Day at the St. Paul Carnival

If you don’t get the chance to go to the Winter Carnival earlier in the week, then there is one more family-centered opportunity. You can enjoy all the fun on Family Day – Saturday, February 2, from 11:00 am-5:00 pm.

It’s another opportunity to enjoy live music and entertainment. The ice carving competition, and other family-centered activities at Kellogg Mall Park and Landmark Center too.

There aren’t a lot of details on the activities yet, but check back on the Saint Paul Winter Carnival website as we get closer to the event.

Besides the events we’ve shared with you here, there is a whole Calendar of parades, competitions, and activities that make the Saint Paul Winter Carnival the event of the season.

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