January brings a new year and a fresh crop of arts & culture events across the Twin Cities and the state—check them out before you decide to go into hibernation for the rest of the winter.
Visit Saint Paul Featured Event: Saint Paul Winter Carnival | January 28–February 7, times vary | Various locations in St. Paul | Low/no cost
Saint Paul Winter Carnival celebrates 130 years in 2016 with a collection of fun and exciting events for the whole family. Join in the medallion hunt, tackle the Securian Winter Run, or take part in the various parades and view the spectacular ice and snow carvings. The Winter Carnival runs January 28–February 7 and includes the Beer Dabbler Winter Carnival and the Saintly City Cat Show. Check out Rice Park as it will be an epicenter of events. Learn more.
Ice Fest | January 8–9 (all day on the 9th) | Breezy Point Resort, 9252 Breezy Point Dr, Breezy Point | $5
The motto of the Etta Steffen Memorial Ice Fest is “Debunking MInnesota winter’s bad rap one chilly nose at a time.” Even if this winter’s warm weather persists and fest-goers’ cheeks aren’t quite as rosy as in years past, this two-day event of wintertime fun will still be worth the trip up North. The events kick off with a bonfire and live music Friday night, then segue into a full day of outdoor activities, including sled dog races, hot air balloon rides, pond hockey, snow golf, snowmobile radar runs, candlelight cross-country skiing, and fireworks. It’s all-things winter all at once. Learn more.
24:00:00 Xtreme Theatre Smackdown 2016 | January 9, 8pm | Anne Simley Theatre, Hamline University, 1536 Hewitt Ave, St. Paul | $20
What do you get when you give some of the most influential, talented female theater artists in the Twin Cities 24 hours to create a play? Well, you’ll have to come to find out. This one-of-a-kind process invites the general public (that’s you!) to vote among such ingredients as lines of dialogue, emotions, props, and stage direction. Then, on Friday at 9pm, the winning ingredients are given to six teams of two playwrights, who must include all the ingredients in their scripts. At 6am Saturday morning, the new plays are assigned directors, a cast, and rehearsal time. Then, at 8pm, they’re performed. Don’t miss this chance to see theater in action. Learn more.
Urban Expedition: Sweden and Haiti | January 10 and 24, 1–3pm | Landmark Center, 75 W Fifth St, St. Paul | Free
Landmark Center’s popular Urban Expedition program returns for its 12th year this month. The free Sunday afternoon events at one of the most beautiful buildings in Minnesota provide kids and adults alike with an opportunity to learn about the world and its diverse cultures without leaving St. Paul. Each program provides an authentic cultural experience that includes music, dance, crafts, live animals, language lessons, and traditions from different destination countries. This month’s featured countries are Sweden on January 10 and Haiti on January 24, each a world away culturally and geographically, and yet perhaps not so different from Minnesota after all. Learn more.
Lullaby | January 13–February 7, times vary | The Ritz Theater, 345 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis | $21–$35
Theater Latte Da presents the world premiere of “Lullaby,” a Michael Elynow production about a widowed young mother who starts taking guitar lessons from a one-time almost-famous rocker to learn lullabies to play for her infant son. The two very different women begin to bond over the music as well as their troubled pasts, giving way to a powerful story of friendship, forgiveness, and insight. The production is also the first world premiere in Theater Latté Da’s major new work initiative, NEXT 20/20, a five-year endeavor aimed at developing 20 new musicals or plays-with-music and shepherding many of them to full production. Learn more.
Dear World | January 15–February 7, times vary | Open Book, 1011 Washington Ave S, Minneapolis; Bedlam Lowertown, 213 E Fourth St, St. Paul | Prices vary
“Dear World” is based on the French play “The Madwoman of Chaillot.” It follows a group of eccentrics and outcasts around Paris as they band together to thwart the plans of evil businessmen plotting to extract oil from under the city’s streets and cafes. It’s an exceptionally timely production given the current state of events in the world, and, given the outstanding cast of local theater superstars, is sure to be an exceptional experience, too. Learn more about the pay-what-you-can ticket model and various, unique locations (ever seen a show at a YMCA? How about a library? No? Check it out: they’re free and awesome).
Pericles | January 16–February 21, times vary | Guthrie Theater, 818 S Second St, Minneapolis | $15–$74
The Guthrie is partnering with Oregon Shakespeare Festival and The Folger Theatre to present “Pericles,” an adventure-filled romance stacked full of pirates, princesses, storms, heartbreak, and adventure. It’s one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known works, but also one of his most beautiful. The tale of one man’s sweeping voyage from a headstrong youth to a sage, world-weary man also features live music composed by Tony Award-winner Jack Herrick and marks the highly anticipated Guthrie directorial debut of the theater’s new artistic director, Joseph Haj. Learn more.
89.3 The Current’s 11th Birthday Party | January 22-23, 7pm both nights | First Avenue Mainroom, 701 N First Avenue, Minneapolis | $20 per night (if available)
89.3 The Current , Minnesota Public Radio’s commercial-free member-supported radio station, turns 11-years-old in 2016. For over a decade, The Current has been playing the best new music alongside the music that inspired it. To celebrate the occasion, The Current is turning it up to 11 and hosting a two-night concert at First Avenue featuring all-local lineups including Low, John Mark Nelson, Gospel Machine, Bad Bad Hats, and many more. Learn more.
Bloomington Winter Fete | January 23–25, 30–31, times vary | Bloomington, locations vary | Free unless noted
Spend the last two weekends in January with city-wide winter activities in and around Bloomington. The festivities kick off with a fat bike race and demonstration Saturday, January 23, and continue with a ski jumping exhibition, snowshoe hikes, scavenger hunts, a film festival, ice skating, ice harvest demonstrations, broomball, the Warming-House-A-Palooza, and historical recreations of what life was like back when Minnesota was a frozen frontier. Learn more.
Winter Carnival Orchid Show | January 30–31, 10am–4pm | Marjorie McNeely Conservatory, 1225 Estabrook Dr, St. Paul | $5 ($1 off with Carnival button)
One of the best ways to overcome the winter blues is to step inside the steamy, fragrant, and oh-so-green greenhouse that is the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory. Even more satisfying is to visit when there are dozens of delicate, colorful orchids to ooh and ahh over. Swing by before, between, or after Winter Carnival festivities to get your warm-weather fix in January. Learn more.
John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon | January 31–February 3 | Multiple locations
The longest sled dog race in the lower 48 states, John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon is a qualifier for the Iditarod and draws elite mushers to Duluth, Minnesota, for a 300-plus mile race to Gunflint Lake and back. Watch from public checkpoints and road crossings along the trail as teams of dogs pull their sleds through some of Minnesota’s most challenging terrains. Check the event website frequently for updates on weather conditions and race status. Learn more.