Photo courtesy of Andy Cosgrove One of the breathtaking ice sculptures carved at the St. Paul Winter Carnival. Skilled artists spend days creating these masterpieces.

Family Vacations in Minnesota: St. Paul Winter Carnival

This gala St. Paul Winter Carnival is a much-anticipated event in St. Paul and is the country's oldest winter festival. The city is filled with ice-carving contests, car races on ice, and torchlight parades.

The crowning of the festival royalty -- King Boreas and the Queen of Snows and their court -- heralds the beginning of two weeks of frozen fun. The coronation is followed by the Grande Day Parade, when more than 100 outrageously decorated floats wind through downtown. A second procession, called the Torchlight Parade, features floats aglow with giant flames and festive lights.

The carnival offers all kinds of sporty events, including ice hockey, softball played on ice, a children's ice fishing contest, ice skating, snow volleyball, ice golf, and more. A frozen winter playground and a giant ice slide are popular stops for younger children. The intricate and elaborate sculptures of the ice-carving competition are on display throughout the entire carnival.

One of the most anticipated events of the festival is the treasure hunt for the special Winter Carnival medallion, which is worth thousands of dollars to the winner. It's a tradition that has St. Paul residents following daily clues in the local newspaper and searching high and low for the hidden prize.

St. Paul Winter Carnival Information

Address: Harriet Island Regional Park at Plato Blvd. and W. Water St., Saint Paul, MN

Phone: 651/223-4700

Hours of Operation: Last week in Jan. - First week in Feb.

Check out the next page for information about the adventures a family can have at the country's largest shopping center, the Mall of America.

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:
  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Minnesota State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Minnesota, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.