Saint Paul Winter Carnival 2024: Top Family Activities

snowy st paul

Our capital city is gearing up for one of its most treasured annual traditions – the 138th Saint Paul Winter Carnival: January 25 – February 4, 2024. It’s a time of legend and lore, royalty and relics, sculptures in ice and in snow. What will this year’s carnival look like? You will be happy to learn many of our favorites are BACK! Most events are family-friendly and FREE, but if you want to purchase this year’s collector button, you can find it here. The majority of activities take place in downtown Saint Paul, near Rice Park and Landmark Center, and a few are out at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

Check back as we both approach and update information on the Coolest Celebration in the Twin Cities. 

Best things to do with families & kids at the St Paul Winter Carnival 2024

January 25

Light the Park – Kickoff to Carnival

Rice Park, St Paul
When the lights flip on, it’s officially Carnival time in the capital city. The first 200 people to Rice Park will receive free glow wands and a laser light show salutes the start of this 138-year-old festival. The signature ice carvings begin immediately following the show. 5:30-7pm. FREE admission.

January 25-27

Winter Carnival Ice Sculpture Competitions 

Rice Park, 109 4th Street W St Paul, Minnesota 55102
When many of us think of the St Paul Winter Carnival, the first thing to pop into our heads is a collection of carvings done in ice. This may be because the venerable annual festival literally rose into existence with the construction of a giant ice palace in 1886, designed to attract tourists to St Paul. While a palace isn’t built all that often these days (the most recent was completed in 2018), the ice sculpture competition downtown remains a signature event. You can w
atch the ice carvers work their magic this weekend (please see the link for individual competition times); or you can visit the sculptures throughout the run of the Winter Carnival in Rice Park. Mother Nature permitting, as always. FREE admission.

January 26-February 4

Vulcan Snow Park at the State Fairgrounds

The wily Vulcan Krewe (nemesis of King Boreas and Aurora Queen of the Snows, and their court) play host to a number of fun winter activities based out of the Minnesota State Fairgrounds including:

  • WINTER CARNIVAL SNOW SCULPTURE PARK   Visitors are invited to come out to Vulcan Snow Park at the State Fairgrounds to watch sculptors at work during the first weekend. Finished sculptures are lit after dark. FREE.
  •  SNOW MAZE – Our kids love navigating the mini snow maze. Snow Park is located in the Kidway area of the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.
  • VULCAN FUN DAY The Snow Park heats up with Vulcan fire truck rides and a mini snow treasure hunt for kids in addition to the other daily snowy activities. Vote for your favorite snow sculpture between 10:30am-12:30pm with awards presented at 1pm. January 28 only, FREE.

snow sculpture

January 27

King Boreas Grand Day Parade

If you plan to attend, you’ll want the parade route: West 7th at Smith to 5th Street to Washington to 4th Street. Parade kicks off at 2pm. Historical bit: King Boreas is a mythical figure, King of the Winds, dreamed up by the original organizers of the St Paul Winter Carnival. You can read more about the dramatic backstory HERE. 2-4pm.

January 30

Winter Carnival Frozen Family Night

What’s in store for families? Snow princesses, gift bags, a bounce house, and more fun activities. Bundle up and head down to Landmark Plaza between 5th Street & Washington Street. 5:30-7:30pm, FREE.

February 3

Winter Carnival Kids and Family Day

Landmark Center Cortile, 75 W 5th St, St Paul, MN 55102
The second Saturday of the St Paul Winter Carnival will offer indoor family fun at Landmark Center: cultural entertainment, education, arts and crafts, stories and more. 11am-5pm, FREE.

Rice Park, 109 4th Street W., St. Paul, MN 55102.
Afterwards, hearty families can stick around for the Vulcan Victory Torchlight Parade near Rice Park from 5:30pm-7:30pm.

2024 Scavenger & Treasure Hunts

2024 Winter Carnival St Paul Scavenger Hunts 

On your marks, get set – January 27 is go time! This year the St Paul Winter Carnival is again hosting four scavenger hunts. Each hunt has its own personality and an entrance fee of $20/team. These can consist of 1-4 people, perfect for a family team. Note that you will need to download the free Goosechase app in order to participate. Here’s the breakdown if you want to get involved:

  • North Wind Hunt – 30 missions take you around the city of St. Paul visiting interesting and noteworthy spots.
  • West Wind Hunt – This hunt is designed for kids around the Como Park area. Your objective is to find the horses that have been let loose around the park.
  • South Wind Hunt – 30 missions for free-spirited and creative members of our community.
  • East Wind Hunt – Ten individual puzzles will direct you to a location in St. Paul that act as pieces to a final, ultimate puzzle.

2024 St Paul Pioneer Press Treasure Hunt

We’re curious to know if anyone out there has ever made a family outing out of searching for the Pioneer Press Medallion (formerly the Winter Carnival Medallion)? Here at Family Fun Twin Cities we focus a lot of our efforts on finding activities for the youngest members of the family, but we realize that folks are looking for ways to entertain their pre-tweens as well.

Personally, my three young daughters (ages 2 – 6) wouldn’t have the patience or stamina to spend hours out in the elements, searching the great expanse of Ramsey County public parklands. My 8-year-old son, however, might think a real, live treasure hunt would be really cool. If you’re game to win up to $10,000 in prize money for tracking down the medallion, here’s what to do:

  • To qualify for the grand prize, you need to have a registered Pioneer Press Treasure Hunt patch ($10), which can be purchased online here. The purchase automatically registers the patch, but it must be done before January 19, 2024.
  • Follow the clues released by the St. Paul Pioneer Press daily for hints on where to search. The clues can be found on the paper’s Treasure Hunt page. One clue will be released each day until a set date or until the medallion is found.
  • Clip, copy or print from the website each clue in case you find the medallion. Again, these clues are required to be presented with the found medallion to claim the maximum amount of prize money.
  • Grab your pre-tween (or whomever’s up for a treasure hunt!) and get searching.

For some inspiration, here’s a list of places the medallion has been found in the past (dating all the way back to the 1950s!). Remember, the little disc is usually hidden in some type of container and/or concealed by natural elements.

St Paul Winter Carnival event information

  • Locations around St. Paul, Minnesota:
    • Landmark Center, 5 W 5th St, St Paul, MN 55102
    • Rice Park, 109 4th Street W St Paul, MN 55102
    • Minnesota State Fairgrounds, 1265 Snelling Ave N, St Paul, MN 55108
  • Dates: Thursday, January 25 – Sunday, February 4, 2024
  • Cost: The St. Paul Winter Carnival mainly features free events.
  • Age recommendations: All ages and family-friendly, but dress for the weather for outdoor events.
  • Official Website
  • Facebook
  • Visit Saint Paul Website
  • Learn more about the history of the Saint Paul Winter Carnival which has been celebrated since 1886.
  • The Winter Carnival Legend: Who are King Boreas and Aurora Queen of the Snows, the Fire King and his Vulcan Krewe, The Order of the Royal Guard, and the Royal Order of Klondike Kates.
      • There is a children’s book about the legend, Saint Paul Winter Carnival Wonders by Kris Haslund.

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4 thoughts on “Saint Paul Winter Carnival 2024: Top Family Activities”

    1. One can dream of St. Paul Winters on these 90 degree days, right. But do check this link out again in a couple months. We’ll update for 2020.

  1. Pingback: Guide: Twin Cities events leading up to the big game – Give Me The Mike

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