Winter guide 2017: The best events in outdoors, arts, sports, and music


Saint Paul Winter Carnival Darrin Johnson

Winter is coming.

While that statement is ominous for many, in Minnesota we think winter is pretty rad. We don’t let a foot of snow and an inch of ice stop us from having fun. In fact, sometimes that is the fun. As the months grow colder, our glorious state will host all kinds of happenings, including holiday bar crawls, snow sculpture competitions, and even the Super Bowl. So dust off your snow shoes and get ready to enjoy the season.


2017 British Arrows Awards

Walker Art Center


2017 British Arrows Awards Amnesty International

Although the British Arrows Awards spotlight different ads from across the pond each year, there’s a certain soothing predictability to the commercials’ tone and content—a fact that’s helped to make the annual screenings at the Walker Art Center an apt, if quirky, holiday tradition. There are the giggle-worthy domestic fails (this year, a series demonstrating the utility of IKEA organizers). There are the adorable vignettes (a tear-jerking short about a pair of aging teddy bears navigating Heathrow airport). There are the epic clips starring footballers (Cristiano Ronaldo swaps bodies with a young player in a Freaky Friday-style Nike ad), and the name-that-voice celebrity cameos (listen for Nick Offerman in an amusing HomeAway commercial). Then there are the ads that pull us down to earth. This year, two heartrending short films draw attention to the ongoing refugee crisis, including a Unicef clip that brings a young Syrian boy together with an aging WWII survivor. Sometimes, things stay the same, but not in a good way. Showtimes vary, check online at to reserve a seat. 1750 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-375-7600. December 1-30 —Jay Gabler

Prince From Minneapolis

Weisman Art Museum


Prince From Minneapolis Terry Gydesen

Prince continues to fascinate not just music lovers, but also scholars of popular culture, sexuality, and African-American culture. Having curated and presented an exhibition and symposium devoted to the influences of Bruce Springsteen back in 2004, the Weisman Art Museum now turns its sights closer to home with a show and international conference (in April) that examines Prince’s relationship to Minneapolis and Minnesota. The exhibition showcases, in one gallery, stunning images by local photographers Allen Beaulieu, Nancy Bundt, Terry Gydesen, and Robert Whitman, who trained their lenses on the Purple One as he was establishing his look, his sound, and his identity. In other galleries are works ranging from the bizarre to the quotidian, including art dolls of Prince in various settings, seed artist Lillian Colton’s portrait of Prince, glassworks, a bicycle, and a mural — all Prince-related. Meanwhile, the symposium will pose and answer such burning questions as: What were the demographic, cultural, and economic conditions that gave rise to Prince? How did he develop his sound in a predominantly white state? Did he reinvent the aesthetics and politics of blackness? How about notions of black male sexuality? Perhaps we’ll never know. There will be a preview party from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, December 8. Tickets are $25 for the reception. 333 E. River Rd., Minneapolis; 612-625-9494. December 9 through June 18, 2017 —Camille LeFevre

Art Shanties Project

Lake Harriet


Art Shanties Project Jill Emmer

The Art Shanty Projects are really something special. The colorful structures pop on a lake against the white snow, creating a spectacular view that is an art installation all on its own. It gets even better when you take a peek inside each one. There, you’ll discover the wonder, delight, and creativity that go into making these little art houses, as most offer programming led by artists, scientists, and performers. So fill up your thermos with hot cocoa and head on over for some quirky, whimsical fun. Formerly housed on Medicine and White Bear Lakes, the Art Shanties are taking up residence this year in Minneapolis at Lake Harriet. Let’s hope the weather cooperates for a month of DIY art, Minnesota-style. For more info, visit 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Free. 4235 W. Lake Harriet Pkwy., Minneapolis; 612-567-6844. January 20 through February 11, 2018 —Sheila Regan

Black Label Movement

The Ritz Theater

After performing at the Cowles Center for the last five years, Black Label Movement heads to the Ritz in northeast Minneapolis in 2018. Their January show highlights how they keep audiences on their toes through collaborations with scientists, artists, and movers of all kinds. BLM’s two-week, eight-performance season will offer two premieres. “Animal Velocity” was developed as part of James Sewell Ballet’s Ballet Works series, and “I am a rope, bringing this down…,” was made with textile artist Anne Swan. Swan’s work will also be seen as part of a concurrent gallery exhibition that includes past BLM collaborating artists Lara Hansen and Bill Cameron. Repertory pieces returning to the stage include “Hit,” a gravity-defying exploration of physics and violence from 2011, and “Merge,” a 2016 piece created with Afro-Brazilian company Contempo Physical Dance. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturdays; 2 p.m. January 20; 4 p.m. Sunday, January 21. $20. 345 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis; 612-339-3003. January 12-21, 2018 —Sheila Regan

They Are Waiting For You

Walker Art Center

To conclude her exhibition “Laure Prouvost: They Are Waiting for You,” the French-born conceptual artist presents a world-premiere performance in collaboration with artist Sam Belinfante and European choreographer Pierre Droulers. It’s also her first major production for the stage, which will include film, movement, and a score performed live by local and New York musicians. Prouvost has made several films in the past in which she plays with conventional narrative and communication modalities by distorting sound, sight, and meaning with wit. Her artwork does something similar. By interweaving movement, sound, found objects, painting, fiction, and fact, she challenges and transforms expected meanings into a restless discourse about the nature of language and understanding in a fractured yet increasingly interconnected world. 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. $15. 1750 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612-375-7600. February 9-10, 2018 —Camille LeFevre

Contempo Physical Dance: Vulcão

Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts


Contempo Physical Dance: Vulcão Bill Cameron

For several years, Brazilian-born Marciano Silva dos Santos thrilled Twin Cities audiences as a member of TU Dance. At the same time, his stately, dynamic presence was also recognized by the American Folkloric Society, which named him an artist of significant and exceptional talent. It was time to create his own dance company, which he founded with his partner and fellow dancer/choreographer, Jenny Pennaz. They’ve been igniting stages ever since with their singular blend of Afro-Brazilian dance, capoeira, and contemporary movement. Vulcão is a new work that will have its premiere this winter. Created by dos Santos, composer Divanir Antonio Gattamorta, and the athletically inclined dancers, the piece is a fiery work that conjures images of hot flowing lava, shifting tectonic plates, and rocky terrain that is both unyielding and foundational. Expect the dancers not only to seemingly push past the limits of their physicality, but to take viewers beyond traditional notions of Brazilian dance into a world of choreographic ingenuity. 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. $20-$28. 528 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612-206-3600. February 16-17, 2018 —Camille LeFevre

The Wiz

Children’s Theatre Company

“I’m not usually one for adapting Eurocentric endeavors and putting an African-American spin on them, but this one is different,” says Lou Bellamy about The Wiz. Its creators, he explains, “came up with something that is uniquely theirs, and ours.” Bellamy is directing a new production of the 1974 R&B musical at the Children’s Theatre Company in a collaboration with Penumbra Theatre. Most of the acting talent will come from Penumbra’s company, with mother-daughter duo Jamecia and Paris Bennett playing Glinda and Dorothy. The show’s setting, says Bellamy, will be inspired by the Great Migration. “Dorothy starts out in a black town in Kansas, of which there were many. The tornado drops her in Coney Island, and that’s where the Munchkins are. She goes to the zoo, where the lion is. The Emerald City is Harlem.” Where does Oz the Great and Powerful hold court? Bellamy doesn’t want to spoil the surprise, but here’s a hint: For actor T. Mychael Rambo, it’s star time. 7 p.m. Thursdays through Fridays; 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturdays; 2 and 5 p.m. Sundays. $15-$64. 2400 Third Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-874-0400. January 23 through March 18, 2018 —Jay Gabler


Jungle Theater

The Jungle Theater’s 2018 season opens with what’s either a one-man or a four-man retelling of Moby Dick, depending on whether you count the three bluegrass musicians who share the stage with the narrator. Leo Geter, who you may remember as Rich from Footloose, writes and directs this play, which evolved from a 2015 Fringe show called White Whale. As Jim Parker, Nate Sipe, and Kevin Kniebel (the latter two members of Pert Near Sandstone) provide a soundtrack, a middle-aged Ishmael (Jack Weston) recounts the unforgettable adventure he had in his youth. “It gives the audience an experience close to what it’s like reading the book,” explained Geter in a promotional video. “It’s kind of overwhelming, and then it just sort of leaves you, drops you, and you’re left to contemplate the vastness of the story, of the universe, what’s transpired, and the desire we all have to seek out something beyond ourselves and experience the unknown.” 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays; 2 p.m. Sundays. $35-$45. 2951 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-822-7063. January 13 through February 4, 2018 —Jay Gabler

Black Nativity

Penumbra Theatre

Lou Bellamy won’t be narrating Black Nativity this year—but it’s not because he’s slowing down. “It has to do primarily with The Wiz, because I’ll be in rehearsal for that,” says Bellamy, referring to an upcoming co-production with the Children’s Theatre Company. Bellamy has recently passed the position of Penumbra Theatre artistic director on to his daughter Sarah Bellamy, but the founding father is still directing Black Nativity, and he plans to stay the course he’s followed in recent years’ productions. Setting aside some of the flourishes that characterized earlier versions of the gospel show, which Penumbra has been staging for three decades, Bellamy has returned Black Nativity to its roots as the simple, devout, and joyous African-American Nativity celebration Langston Hughes debuted in 1961. “People love it,” says Bellamy. “It’s a wonderful story, and it’s one of the few shows around Christmastime that celebrates what Christmas is about.” At press time, the new narrator hasn’t yet been cast, but Bellamy says that attendees can expect to see and hear beloved local talents including Greta Oglesby, Dennis Spears, and Yolande Bruce, with musical director Sanford Moore and choreographer Uri Sands. “That story hasn’t changed in a few thousand years,” chuckles Bellamy, emphasizing the value of tradition. “It is something that many Twin Cities families mark their celebration by.” 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays; 2 p.m. Saturdays; 4 p.m. Sundays. $15-$40. 270 N. Kent St., St. Paul; 651-224-3180. November 30 through December 24 —Jay Gabler


The Ritz Theater

With recent productions including Ragtime and an immigration-themed Man of La Mancha, Theatre Latté Da is accustomed to bringing national politics to the musical stage. Assassins, though, is a little more direct. Stephen Sondheim’s 1990 musical explores the stories, and the psyches, of men who have killed (or attempted to kill) American presidents: John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, and others. “At the core of the piece,” explains director Peter Rothstein, “is what happens when people feel disenfranchised, what happens when people think they’ve been promised some idea of America and that fails them.” This is charged material, and Rothstein is going to make sure we can’t keep ourselves at a safe remove. The show opens in a shooting gallery, and the entire Ritz Theater stage is going to become a midway—with the audience invited to participate. “The theater opens an hour before the performance starts,” explains Rothstein. “The actors are all working the carnival, the bar is onstage; it’s popcorn and peanuts and carnival games. The carnival is a big part of the commentary on the piece, and I would love the audience to feel like they aren’t just observers. It’s impossible in 2018 to think you’re not part of this carnival.” 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays; 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. 345 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis; 612-339-3003. February 7 through March 18, 2018 —Jay Gabler





Lizzo Jabari Jacobs

Lizzo is starting to blow up just like her Minnesota fans thought she might when the Houston-bred rapper and singer started making a buzz here in her adopted hometown a half-decade ago. On her first two solo albums, 2013’s Lizzobangers and 2015’s Big Grrrl Small World, the rapper and singer established herself as a malleable post-Missy Elliott type, kinetically blending pop, rap, and electronic styles. That winning streak generated some nationwide recognition, and Lizzo eventually signed to Atlantic Records. The major-label leap is working out well for her: Her first Atlantic single, the poppy and empowering “Good As Hell,” was her biggest song to date, and the subsequent Coconut Oil EP was just as deliriously fun as her previous records. With two recently released singles, “Water Me” and “Truth Hurts,” Lizzo is presumably readying her first Atlantic full-length, though no official announcement has been made. For this NYE bash, she’ll be joined by Cali rapper/singer Brooke Candy and Chicago’s uber-raunchy Cupcakke. 18+. 9 p.m. $45. 3090 Southlawn Dr., Maplewood; 651-779-6984. December 31 —Michael Madden

Lana Del Rey

Target Center


Lana Del Rey Chris Polk

The skepticism that met Lana Del Rey early in her career has largely dissipated, and her persona—romantically stymied California party girl obsessed with ’50s and ’60s pop culture—has propelled a string of enchanting, cinematic albums that have shut down her initial naysayers. The 32-year-old Del Rey’s latest, Lust for Life, is her most collaborative LP yet, with guests ranging from Stevie Nicks on “Beautiful People Beautiful Problems” to cartoonish rap newcomer Playboi Carti on “Summer Bummer.” The album makes the best case yet for LDR as a pop visionary who tells uniquely American stories. This Target Center show, where she’ll be joined by alt-R&B star Jhene Aiko, marks the first date of her early-2018 North American tour. One song she won’t be playing? Fan favorite “Cola,” a number inspired by a Harvey Weinstein-like figure that Del Rey decided to retire from playing in concert. 8 p.m. $41.50-$127. 600 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612-673-1300. January 5 —Michael Madden

Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters

Orpheum Theatre


Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters Mads Perch

Robert Plant has recorded some of his best post-Led Zeppelin solo music in the past decade. In 2007, Raising Sand, an unlikely but successful covers collection with bluegrass singer and fiddler Alison Krauss, cleaned up at the Grammys, and the lush pastoralia Plant created with Band of Joy winningly evoked Led Zeppelin III. The 69-year-old Plant has now released two studio LPs with his latest backing band, the Sensational Space Shifters. 2014’s richly embellished lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar introduced the unit’s melting-pot approach, drawing less from Americana styles and more from U.K. folk and riti player Juldeh Camara’s West Africa. Highlights from this October’s similarly exploratory Carry Fire include the blazing psychedelia of their version of Ersel Hickey’s “Bluebirds over the Mountain,” featuring a vocal assist from Chrissie Hynde. 7:30 p.m. $75-$100. 910 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612-455-9500. February 22 —Michael Madden


Xcel Energy Center


Pink Sølve Sundsbø

Pop’s resident bad girl, Pink, is still relevant, having outlasted the Britneys and Christinas she was compared and contrasted with when she first emerged. In fact, the 38-year-old Pennsylvania native is arguably at the peak of her career—last month, her seventh and latest album, Beautiful Trauma, posted the biggest first-week sales figures by a female artist since Beyoncé’s Lemonade. With songwriting contributions from Bleachers’ ubiquitous Jack Antonoff, rising pop star Julia Michaels, and even indie troubadour Tobias Jesso Jr., it’s not as strong as its immediate predecessor, 2012’s The Truth About Love (which featured Pink’s fourth No. 1 single, “Just Give Me a Reason”), but it gets the job done and includes thrilling surprises like the gospel-fueled “I Am Here.” And anyway, a lesser record would still have been acceptable. This is Pink, after all, and even with her continued commercial success, her concerts have been a bigger draw than her albums ever since she mesmerized the world with her acrobatic performance at the 2010 Grammys. 7:30 p.m. $211-$716. 199 Kellogg Blvd. W., St. Paul; 651-265-4800. March 12 —Michael Madden


Lowertown SantaCon IX

Lowertown St. Paul


Lowertown SantaCon IX Nigel Parry

The best bar crawls don’t need T-shirts, wristbands, or entry fees. They only require booze, good cheer, and... booze. SantaCon is the ultimate holiday-themed bar crawl, with hundreds of thousands of people participating in cities all over the world. The Twin Cities SantaCon is set for December 16, and takes place in Lowertown St. Paul. Now in its 10th year, the event stays true to the spirit of the season by inviting anyone who loves Christmas, drinking, and causing a festive scene to join the fun. While the name might imply that this is only for the “Jolly Big Man,” there really isn’t a formal dress code. Though you will see Santas of all kinds, you may also spot elves and reindeer throwing back Fireball shots, shoulder-to-shoulder with Hanukkah chickens and Kwanzaa hams as half-goat, half-demon Krampus, punisher of bad kids, walks by. So save the money you’d spend on some generic bar crawl ticket, throw on that ugly Christmas sweater you haven’t worn since last December, and come take back the streets of St. Paul with the yuletide mob scene of the year. Stay tuned for the planned itinerary. You can also follow shenanigans live via Twitter at @santacon55101, and visit for more info. 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Free. December 16 —Patrick Strait

Saint Paul Winter Carnival

Various Locations

With an influx of visitors expected for the Super Bowl, the organizers of the 2018 Saint Paul Winter Carnival are more determined than ever to demonstrate the festive side of our frozen climes with expanded events and dates. The celebration will mark its 132nd season with its three signature parades (the Moon Glow Pedestrian, the King Boreas Grand Day, and the Vulcan Victory Torchlight), as well as such popular standards as the coronation of winter royalty, a winter fun run, and ice carving and snow sculpting contests. A more recent highlight, the Autonomous Snow Plow Competition, returns to challenge young minds to devise robotic innovations. Of the many new attractions, the U.S. Olympic Committee-sponsored Team USA Winterfest aims to draw attention to the 2018 Winter Games with the help of former Olympians and activities such as “bobsled boomerang.” Rice Park will once again serve as the carnival’s main stop, where the snow-encrusted environs will be adorned with a garden of ice statuettes, and there will be live music all three weekends. Even more fun can be discovered at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds where the erected Vulcan Snow Park offers two Polar Plunges, a giant snow slide, and lawn mower and bar stool ski races. For complete prices and event schedules, see the official website,, or call the main hotline at 651-223-7400 for details. January 25 through February 10, 2018 —Brad Richason

Crashed Ice 2017

Cathedral of Saint Paul


Crashed Ice 2017 Sebastian Marko/Red Bull Content Pool

While gazing on the precariously curved 500-meter ice track—which begins at Cathedral of Saint Paul before swiftly descending 12 stories to the finish line—it isn’t difficult to appreciate the steely nerves needed to compete in a downhill ice cross skating championship. Annual competition Crashed Ice, sponsored by Red Bull, will be returning to St. Paul for the seventh consecutive year, marking the inaugural stop in a globe-spanning itinerary that encompasses such cities as Jyväskylä-Laajis (Finland), Marseille (France), and Edmonton (Canada). Though the corkscrewing course conjures anxiety on its own, athletic aspirations raise the stakes even higher, as the reigning men’s champion (and first man to hold the title for two years running), Cameron Naaz, is a Lakeville native aiming for a historic triple victory. Not to be outdone, the women’s circuit offers the deft athleticism of Jacqueline Legere, a professional stunt woman who captured the championship in the 2015/2016 season. Look for a complete schedule at 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Free. 239 Selby Ave., St. Paul. January 19-20, 2018 —Brad Richason

U.S. Pond Hockey Championship

Lake Nokomis


U.S. Pond Hockey Championship Courtesy of the Event

Yeah, the Super Bowl is pretty cool and all, but can we talk about the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships for a second? It’s a pretty big deal, and it happens right here in the Twin Cities every year at Lake Nokomis. It all started when founder Fred Haberman noticed a bunch of guys playing hockey on Lake of the Isles. “Obviously, Minnesota should have a pond hockey tournament,” he thought, “since so many folks here grow up playing the sport.” So he started one, and it’s grown exponentially since the first tournament in 2006. Under new ownership since 2010, the event attracts world-class players from all over the U.S. and Canada, and it’s completely free to watch. The four-day competition is divided into a number of different divisions, from professional to amateur, with men’s leagues, women’s leagues, co-ed leagues, and leagues for those who are 40-plus. Whether you participate or just watch the show, it’s a great celebration of the way hockey is supposed to be played: on a pond (er... lake). For complete game schedules, see the official U.S. Pond Hockey website, 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday; 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday; 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Free. 5001 Lake Nokomis Pkwy. W., Minneapolis. January 25-28, 2018 —Sheila Regan

Super Bowl LII

U.S. Bank Stadium

Let’s get one unpleasant truth out of the way: Unless you have inside connections and/or thousands of dollars to burn, you won’t be attending Super Bowl LII. That said, there will be plenty of opportunities for revelry as the Twin Cities plays host to this gargantuan sporting spectacle for the first time since 1992. With upward of a million visitors expected, festivities will certainly exceed the capacity of U.S. Bank Stadium. On that note, the NFL will be hosting a Super Bowl Experience in the Minneapolis Convention Center over the week preceding Super Bowl Sunday, offering fans the chance to meet special guests, peruse gridiron history, and shop for mementos. Even those without the slightest interest in the game will find memorable diversions throughout the Twin Cities, especially along the newly renovated Nicollet Mall, which has been outfitted as the centralized artery for ongoing concerts and special events. There will also be a temporary concert and entertainment venue out at Mystic Lake. While bars and restaurants are certain to be packed on game day, the temporarily expanded 4 a.m. closing time should make up for the longer lines. All things considered, Super Bowl LII looks to be winter’s biggest party, even without setting foot inside the stadium. 5:30 p.m. Free on your TV! 401 Chicago Ave., Minneapolis; 612-777-8700. February 4, 2018 —Brad Richason

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