Wandering Pine is reader-supported. When you buy through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you! Learn more.
There are 3 festivals converging in Minneapolis right now. Yesterday’s temps were in the 30’s so there’s really no darned good reason to stay inside.
Hike n Pint
Our morning started at Theo Wirth Park for a quick 3 mile snowshoe and a stop at our favorite Brewery, Utepils for lunch. We were immediately greeted with road detours and signs for the Loppet ski race when we arrived. I thought the race was next weekend, so we stayed out of the skiers way and took a few detours of our own.
Walking on a railroad bridge on snowshoes was a first.
We made it back to Utepils, which translates to ‘sunshine day drinking’ in Norwegian. We stopped in, shared stories and headed back outside. Next stop: Bde Maka Ska!
For readers that may not be familiar with this sport, its basically like dog sledding on skis. The races usually start off a little hairy with anxious dogs howling, barking, and when they finally get to go, a few of the tethered humans end up on the ground being dragged along by said anxious dogs. We like to stay for the last heat when it can be especially entertaining. Instead of Huskies and Labradors, you may have poodles, schnauzers or even a couple of smaller dogs pulling a human. These are my favorite dogs, the ones that are distracted, sniffing each other, sometimes going the wrong way… basically acting like normal dogs and loving it.
My favorite moment of the whole day was during the second race when one golden retriever broke free from its owner and bolted full speed ahead in front of all of the other dogs. That dog was going to win, with or without his human! Pure joy. I couldn’t control my urge to shout “FREEDOM” and put my fists to the sky while the crowd cheered the furry racer on. The poor owner.
We walked across frozen Bde Maka Ska Lake, formally Lake Calhoun to connect with the trail to Lake Harriet.
Kite Festival and Art Shanty Project
I had been to both the Winter Kite Festival and the Art Shanty Projects in the past, but never on the same lake, they are usually separate. Combining them, gave the event a Burning Man vibe…..so we called it FROZEN MAN! Costumed people riding bicycles with butterfly wings, were joined with about 1,000 dogs, strollers, sleds, a wheelchair on skis and too many humans to count–ALL ON A FROZEN LAKE!
The two largest kites were a giant whale shark and some sort of extraterrestrial being that required being staked into the ice and more than one person to navigate it. It occurred to me that if a big gust of wind came along, and you were hanging onto that thing, it would surely take you up into the sky. I enjoyed telling this to a little boy I met, and seeing the expression of wonder on his face. He rushed over and told his dad and probably thought I was some weird old lady.
Watching what seemed like hundreds of brightly colored kites floating in the air together was so calming. I stopped a few times to just breathe, soak in all of the senses and just enjoy the beauty in their floating frames. I wanted to remember the moment as one of my happy places…like cottonwood floating aimlessly on a thick humid day (except without the humidity or annoying cottonwood fluff)
Next up, the Art Shantys!
The Art Shanty Project Mission and Values
Art Shanty Projects is an artist driven temporary community exploring the ways in which relatively unregulated public spaces can be used as new and challenging artistic environments to expand notions of what art can be.
Our organization values artists, art in all communities, and the importance of interaction between the two. Through an array of artists receiving fair wages for their work, we broaden perceptions of art while maintaining respect for the environment and communities in which we work.
There were 22 shanties this year, we didn’t get to go in all of them just because the number of people was a little overwhelming. Our favorite was the Sonic Shanty. It was very dark inside and the ice floor illumintated from the sun outside. I have a video on my instagram page that gives a feel for the immersive sensory experience ON A FROZEN LAKE!
Sonic Shanty (Artists:: Rebecca Loyche and Jonathan Loyche)
The Sonic Shanty is an instrument with the ice that visitors can play and experience how their presence there affects the lake on a sonic level. The acoustic body of the shanty resonances the sounds generated by interactions and this is mixed with a live audio feed from two hydrophones under the ice.
Here’s a photo of the Archive Shanty, which was right next to the Notary Shanty, where you can get all of your Notary needs met. A little further down, was the knitting shanty, where you can participate in a giant group knitting project, did I mention it was ON A FROZEN LAKE!?
We walked back across the two lakes and the trail that connects the two for a total of 9 miles counting our morning snowshoe adventure.
I got home just in time for dinner and some warm pajamas. My favorite kind of winter day.
Have you been to a Winter Festival? The three mentioned above are all going strong this week leading up to the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl Live
There’s a ski bridge in the city!
They were just launching all of the festivities for Super Bowl Live on Friday in downtown Minneapolis. Some of my favorite attractions on Nicollet Mall, the street that runs right down the heart of the city, are the American International Birkebeiner Bridge, the tower of Schwans trucks and a Delta plane that has it’s wings removed and is rumored to be some sort of food truck!
Full list of activities including free concerts every night here
Transportation into the city is tougher than normal, but there are plenty of mass transit and Uber options out there if you want to get out there and join the fun.