Winter Guide 2018: The best events in outdoors, arts, sports, and music

Bobby Rogers

Bobby Rogers

Winter is pretty much here, and that doesn't have to be a bad thing. While some will retreat into wine and Netflix, many Twin Citians will venture out to snowy celebrations, concerts, and sporting events. Let our guide to seasonal fun aid you on your journey, whether you're looking for a tree farm, an ice rink, or just a good beer in the great winter outdoors.

Star Tribune

Star Tribune


U.S. Pond Hockey Championship
Lake Nokomis

Again this year on Lake Nokomis, hundreds of hockey players of all ages and abilities, along with tens of thousands of spectators, will brave the elements and pack the ice for four days of raw outdoor hockey, just how the hockey gods intended. For over a decade, the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships has attracted hockey nuts from all over the U.S. and Canada, as semi-pros, college standouts, and old guys who aren’t ready to hang up the skates square off in hopes of securing the coveted Golden Shovel. There are numerous divisions, allowing men and women of all ages and experiences to channel their inner Charlie Conway, while curious onlookers spend the day playing “Are my fingers missing or just cold?” Food and beer are available for purchase, so you can make a whole day (or four) out of it, but be warned: The warming tent where everyone huddles when they aren’t on the ice smells like hundreds of sweaty hockey players. Needless to say, the Pond Hockey Championships aren’t for the weak. For complete game schedules, see the official U.S. Pond Hockey website, www.uspondhockey.com. 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 24-27 —Patrick Strait

Saint Paul Winter Carnival
Various locations

Ice palaces! Royalty! Buttons! Cats! While it’s a brutally overused cliché, the annual Winter Carnival in St. Paul really does have something for everyone. For 10 days, our state capital becomes the winter wonderland of the Midwest, with more than 250,000 people filling the frozen streets. There are three parades (Moon Glow Pedestrian Parade, King Boreas Grand Day Parade, and the Vulcan Victory Torchlight Parade, which are also the three coolest parade names ever), a frozen 5K/10K/half marathon, the Saintly City Cat Show, ice skating, a snowplow competition, and the coronation of the Winter Carnival Royal Family. There are barstool and lawnmower races, Polar Plunges, and other competitions, giving you the opportunity to make the event your own. It’s kind of like the State Fair, except you’re shivering instead of sweating, and with ice sculptures instead of butter. The reality is that it’s going to be freezing in January and February whether we like it or not. This is your chance to not only defy the cold, but to celebrate it to the fullest. For complete prices and event schedules, see the official website, www.wintercarnival.com, or call the main hotline at 651-223-7400 for details. January 24 through February 3 —Patrick Strait

City of the Lakes Loppet Ski Festival
Various locations

The Saint Paul Winter Carnival isn’t the only festival celebrating the colder months of Minnesota. Each year, the Loppet Ski Festival invites folks of all ages and skill levels to enjoy a variety of winter sports. No matter what your preferred form of cold-weather transportation, there’s a race for you. There are dog sledding events, sprints on ice, fat tire bike races, and cross-country tests of endurance. There are loppets for kids and loppets for pros, mini races and marathons. There are kub tournaments for those who prefer games, and a snow sculpting contest for artsy winterers. The Luminary Loppet takes revelers around Lake of the Isles and Bde Mka Ska; skiers, snowshoers, and other nighttime travelers can discover ice sculptures, bonfires, hot cocoa, fire dancers, and a beer tent party with live music. Find festivities in Uptown, Loring Park, Theodore Wirth Park, and Surly Brewing, which will host food trucks while serving up beer. Sign up for a race or find the complete schedule at www.loppet.org/cityoflakesloppet. January 31 through February 3 —Jessica Armbruster 

Art Sled Rally
Powderhorn Park

There’s something joyously ridiculous about art sleds. Each year, neighbors, friends, and families come together to create contraptions that bring warmth to cold hearts in the dead of winter. Sure, these may not be structurally sound. But the sheer glee that comes from people sending their piece de resistance down a hill in Powderhorn Park is just the kind of thing we need in January. Past years have seen a variety of characters and creations make their way—often pretty slowly—to the bottom. Oompa Loompas, a Zamboni sled, child pirates, and LEGOs (riding the double-decker couch, no less) have ridden the snow. Who knows who—or what—will be racing this year. Find more info at artsledrally.com. 2 to 4 p.m. Free. 3400 15th Ave. S., Minneapolis. January 26 —Jessica Armbruster

10th Annual Winter Beer Dabbler
Minnesota State Fairgrounds

Remember what beer you were drinking in 2009? That’s when the Winter Beer Dabbler began. Now celebrating its 10th year, the festival will offer more than 160 breweries pouring more than 500 beers at the State Fairgrounds this winter. While that alone would help anyone brave the elements, what sets the Winter Dabbler apart from other beer fests is its outdoor spirit. Whether the day calls for snow, sleet, or sunshine, thousands of thirsty ’sotans will sample dark beers, hazy IPAs, and mouth-puckering sours, all while live bands, outdoor games, and a silent disco add to the party. The homebrew competition will attract beer diehards, sports fans can enjoy activities like keg throws and Hammerschlagen, and foodies will be drawn to the multitudes of food trucks and meat and cheese samples. There’s also something for those who don’t like the cold: a heated pavilion, which houses a few of the many, many breweries on hand, along with warm food staples. Even in the dead of winter, the Minnesota State Fairgrounds is the place to be. 21+. Find tickets and more info at beerdabbler.com. 3 to 6:30 p.m. 1265 Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul; 651-288-4400. February 23 —Loren Green


2018 British Arrows Awards

2018 British Arrows Awards Courtesy of event organizers



2018 British Arrows Awards
Walker Art Center

Originated as the British Television Advertising Awards, the British Arrows Awards is renowned for showcasing some of the most innovative, moving, irreverent, hilarious, and/or bizarre advertising accomplishments of the past year. Though ostensibly developed to pitch products, these entertaining shorts have all transcended their commercial purpose, existing on their own artistically singular terms. Considering the quality of the work, it’s no surprise that the Walker Art Center’s annual screening of the Awards remains one of the institution’s most popular draws, accommodating some 27,000 attendees over the course of the month-long event. Carrying on a 32-year tradition, the 2018 Arrows offers audiences the opportunity to communally enjoy these delightful, engaging works on a screen big enough to contain their audacious scope. Showtimes vary, check online at www.walkerartcenter.org to reserve a seat. $14. 1750 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-375-7600. November 30 through December 30 —Brad Richason

Grand (Re)Opening
Minnesota Museum of American Art

The “M,” as it likes to be known, has been on the move for a while, providing glimpses of its marvelous collection through exhibitions at the historic Pioneer Endicott building. Now the M has constructed a permanent home in the complex, designed to create spaces of inclusivity and community that celebrate artmaking and its potential to bring people together. The grand opening includes live music by Lady Xok, performances by SuperGroup, hands-on art making activities, an exhibition that draws visitors into the depth and breadth of the M’s collection, and a light installation by David Bowen in the M’s new Window Gallery. Rebekah Crisanta de Ybarra kicks off the M’s first artist takeover, inviting visitors into her creative process based on Latinx and Indigenous art forms. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free. 350 Robert St. N., St. Paul; 651-797-2571. December 2 —Camille LeFevre

Elizabeth Price
Walker Art Center

Neckties are loaded with symbolism. Among their connotations are social rank or status, coming of age, a celebration of color or mood, a sign of professionalism or politics, an outward expression of the phallus. All of that, and more, informs the large-scale moving images London-based artist Elizabeth Price has created for the Walker Art Center galleries. In her first U.S. museum commission, Price offers two works: FELT TIP and KOHL. In the first, she layers necktie imagery sourced from photography, animation, and motion graphics to examine gender and workplace. In KOHL, she integrates video from four fictional characters discussing the cosmetic and the material, and coal as a source of energy and fuel. Together, the works present a singular perspective on the body, dress, and gender. 1750 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-375-7600. December 8 through February 23, 2020 —Camille LeFevre


Ate9 Cheryl Mann Productions


Rosy Simas Danse: Weave
Ordway Center for the Arts

At a recent rehearsal of Weave, choreographer Rosy Simas asked visitors to close our eyes while the thick sound of crashing waves flooded our senses. When we opened our eyes, we saw five performers “washed up” on the stage. Of different races, physical bearing, movement styles, and genders specific and non, they filled the space with meditative inquisitiveness as they reacted to one another, negotiated shared areas, and expressed choreographic personalities. It was a subtle and grounded weaving together of distinct characters with a sense of equality. Simas (who is Seneca, Heron Clan) and her diverse Native/Indigenous/POC collaborators created the work from stories and experiences gleaned during residencies, workshops, classes, and open rehearsals. Composed of cultural storytelling, film, quadraphonic sound, and movement, the piece wraps the audience in a singular, shared experience of indigenous feminist sensibility. 7:30 p.m. $22-$37. 345 Washington St., St. Paul; 651-224-4222. January 12 —Camille LeFevre


Wilco percussionist Glenn Kotche performs in this collaboration with choreographer Danielle Agami and her Los Angeles-based company. Ate9 was founded in the physically virtuosic, emotionally liberating movement methodology known as “Gaga,” which Agami learned as a member of Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company. For this project, she brought together nine dancers to inhabit Kotche’s driving rhythms and aurally inventive score. Percussive and articulate, with a sassy and sensual sensibility, the work is a perfect dovetailing of movement and music, demonstrating that Israel remains a hothouse for the flowering of bold, contemporary dance. 7:30 p.m. $22-$47. 84 Church St. SE, Minneapolis; 612-624-2345. February 7 —Camille LeFevre

Ashwini Ramaswamy: Let the Crows Come
Parkway Theater


It was only a matter of time before Minneapolis-based Bharatanatyam dancer and choreographer Ashwini Ramaswamy, one-third of the innovative Ramaswamys behind Ragamala Dance, stepped out on her own. The bright, fresh star in the midst of sister Aparna’s commanding sensuality and mother Ranee’s gorgeous gravitas, Ashwini has been lauded by none other than the New York Times for performances that combine “the human and the divine.” For this work in progress, an SPCO Liquid Music Series commission, she teams up with composer/DJ/author Jace Clayton and fiercely poetic dancer Alanna Morris-Van Tassel to explore ancestry, ritual, and tradition. See video of Ramaswamy’s Space Residency at the Baryshnikov Arts Center. TU Dance co-founder Toni Pierce-Sands facilitates a post-screening conversation. Find tickets and more info at www.liquidmusic.org. 7:30 p.m. Pay-as-able. 4814 Chicago Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-822-8080. February 11 —Camille LeFevre

'The Wickhams'

'The Wickhams' William Clark


A Very Die Hard Christmas
Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater

Explosions, blood, bad guys, and Yuletide wishes will be pouring out of Bryant-Lake Bowl this December, as A Very Die Hard Christmas returns to the stage. The brainchild of Twin Cities theater veteran Josh Carson, this show combines the badass story of John McClane, an off-duty cop turned action-movie icon, with the warmth and charm of some of your favorite Christmas TV specials. Each year, Carson adds and changes material to keep up with current events and pop culture, but he doesn’t compromise on the comedy, catchphrases, or holiday cheer that have made the production a holiday staple. Best of all, each show brings in a surprise guest to play the role of Santa Claus. Past cameos have included athletes, actors, musicians, and even former Mayor Betsy Hodges. Come for the fake blood splatter, stay for the spirit of the holidays. Yippee ki-yay, Father Christmas. 10 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. $15/$18. 810 W. Lake St., Minneapolis; 612-825-3737. December 7-22 —Patrick Strait

A Stocking Full of Awesome VIII: The Knife Before Christmas
Lab Theater


While there are lots of holiday traditions out there, most people would agree that tossing blades is an unusual way to observe the Yuletide. The exception to this rule would be the guys from Danger Committee. Consisting of ace knife thrower Reynaldo (Caleb McEwen) and world-class jugglers Bald Guy and Other One (Mick Lunzer and Jason LeMay), the daring trio will celebrate the season with A Stocking Full of Awesome VII: The Knife before Christmas. As in previous versions of this popular holiday show, the Danger Committee alternates between comedy and cringe-inducing stunts, creating edge-of-your seat entertainment that will have audiences laughing between gasps. Whether lobbing swords or axes, the trio displays coordination as finely honed as the razor-sharp objects they pitch across the stage. And they do it all with ease, exhibiting the precision and timing needed to seize a sparking stun gun or land a disarming joke. 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays, plus New Year’s Eve; 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. $30-$45. 700 N. First St., Minneapolis; 612-333-7977. December 20 through January 5 —Brad Richason

The Great Leap
Guthrie Theater

Although many Americans didn’t think of China as a basketball powerhouse until Yao Ming joined the Houston Rockets in 2002, the world’s most populous country has been playing roundball since the 19th century. Lauren Yee’s 2018 play The Great Leap was inspired by a trip her father took to China as a member of a club team in the ’80s. In the play, an American college team arrives for an exhibition game in the era of the Tiananmen Square protests. Elements of a classic sports story (the gritty, aging coach, the questing young player) unfold in a turbulent setting—and what basketball story would be complete without an ending that comes down to the final buzzer? Director Desdemona Chiang helms the Guthrie’s production of Yee’s comic drama, aiming for nothing but net as her production takes the court on the McGuire Proscenium Stage. “What Lauren’s play does so beautifully,” she says, “is captures the larger tension between the U.S. and China during the ’80s and distills it into personal relationships. We’re able to read larger concerns, and larger consequences, based on the actions of individual people.” 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays. $29-$78. 818 S. 2nd St., Minneapolis; 612-377-2224. January 12 through February 10 —Jay Gabler

The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley
Jungle Theater

Director Christina Baldwin calls The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley a “side-quel.” What does that mean? Playwrights Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon have crafted a follow-up to their play Miss Bennet, which itself was a sequel to Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice. The twist is that The Wickhams takes place simultaneously with Miss Bennet, in the same house. The new play stands on its own, but it will be particularly rewarding for the many theatergoers who packed the Jungle last holiday season for the company’s acclaimed production of Miss Bennet. Overlapping cast members will return for The Wickhams, with Angela Timberman joining as a housekeeper. “It’s a fun and fulfilling piece of theater by itself,” says Baldwin, “but you do have these little Easter eggs of connection that are fun to find.” The Jungle is on a roll with original literary adaptations this season: The Wickhams is the second world-premiere commission in a row (in this case, a co-commission), following the superb Little Women. “Jane Austen is for everybody,” says Melcon. “I think there is a real opportunity [to] take some of these classic pieces and bring them back with a different perspective.” 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays; 2 p.m. Sundays. $35-$45. 2951 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-822-7063. December 1-30 —Jay Gabler

Grain Belt Warehouse

Count on Sara Marsh’s hard-hitting Dark and Stormy Productions to deliver December fare that’s anything but Christmas-y. While Blackbird may be a break from reindeer and snowmen, it’s hardly what you’d call escapist entertainment. David Harrower’s 2005 play was partly inspired by the terrible true story of Toby Studebaker, the former Marine who met an 11-year-old girl on Neopets and took her to Paris for sex. The play’s been produced around the world, including a Broadway show with Michelle Williams, and was adapted into the Rooney Mara film Una. In the Dark and Stormy production, Marsh plays Una, a young woman who approaches her abuser 15 years after an incident resembling the Studebaker crime. Luverne Seifert, an actor who can become an intimidating onstage force, is the middle-aged Ray. In the close confines of Dark and Stormy’s Grain Belt studio space, expect a gripping real-time encounter that you won’t soon forget... and that might just leave you feeling like a nice Hallmark movie wouldn’t be so bad after all. For tickets, visit www.darkstormy.org. 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, plus Monday, December 17 (no show December 19). $15-$39. 77 13th Ave. NE., Minneapolis; 612-401-4506. December 13 through January 5 —Jay Gabler

Out There 2018
Walker Art Center

To shock you out of a seasonal obsession with the weather, there’s nothing better than some wonderfully weird art, especially the kind that generates a mid-winter mental workout. That’s what the Walker Art Center’s been bringing to Minneapolis for over three decades now with Out There: an annual month-long festival of adventurous performance art from around the world. The event’s international aspect is particularly salient this year, as curator Philip Bither assembles five transnational groups presenting work that responds to life-changing events like nuclear accidents (Berlin’s Zvizdal, about an elderly couple who refuse to leave Chernobyl) and war (Lola Arias’ Minefield, with veterans from both sides of the 1982 Falklands/Malvinas War revisiting the conflict). Rabih Mroué, a Lebanese artist familiar to Out There regulars, opens this year’s festival with a world-premiere performance, Borborygmus, coinciding with the opening of his first U.S.-based gallery installation. In JACK &, Kaneza Schaal and her collaborators explore the toll of prison time and the complicated feelings that accompany release. Showtimes vary, check online at www.walkerartcenter.org to reserve a seat. 1750 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-375-7600. January 11 through February 2 —Jay Gabler

The Skin of Our Teeth
Park Square Theater

Every show by Girl Friday Productions arrives amid high anticipation. Artistic director Kirby Bennett stages only one play every two years, and she always makes it a big one. The company just produced Thornton Wilder’s The Skin of Our Teeth in 2009, but Bennett thinks the time is already ripe to revisit the Pulitzer-winning 1942 masterpiece. “ The Skin of Our Teeth explores the nature of human resilience in ways that are unexpected, hilarious, and profoundly moving,” she notes in a statement. “And we think the time is right to shine a little light on hope!” Joel Sass will direct Girl Friday’s new Skin on Park Square’s Proscenium Stage—a step up from the company’s gorgeous Idiot’s Delight (2017) on the underground Andy Boss Thrust Stage. They’ll need plenty of room to roam in Wilder’s sprawling, genre-busting allegory that invokes a wide range of historical allusions including an ice age, Moses, and the most ambitious fraternal order in the history of the American stage. At stake is nothing less than the future of the entire human race. No wonder the company took two years to work up to this. 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays. $16-$60. 20 W. Seventh Place, St. Paul; 651-291-7005. February 7 through March 3 —Jay Gabler


Noname courtesy of the artist


Thom Yorke
Northrop Auditorium

Will Radiohead ever perform in the Twin Cities again? It’s been 21 years since the dystopian British art-rockers (is there are any other kind of British art-rocker?) unfurled their intricate guitar epics in these parts, and it could be 21 more until they return again. But fans will at least get the opportunity to see the band’s frontman, Thom Yorke, perform in the intimate confines of the Northrop Auditorium. Yorke hasn’t released a proper solo album since Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes in 2014, but he’s been busy with soundtrack work. He scored two short films for the fashion house Rag & Bone early this year, and, more significantly, completed his first full film soundtrack, a sprawling 25-track affair, for Luca Guadagnino’s remake of Suspiria. This tour will be a collaborative venture with longtime Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich and visual artist Tarik Barri. Together, they’ll perform cuts from Yorke’s solo discography, including The Eraser (2006), as well as music from Atoms For Peace’s Amok (2013). With Oliver Coates. 8 p.m. $33-$58. 84 Church St. SE, Minneapolis; 612-624-2345. December 6 —Keith Harris

Travis Scott
Target Center

Though he remains one of the most divisive rap stars to come along in the past half-decade, Travis Scott converted more doubters than ever before when he released the most futuristic and progressive major-label rap album of 2018, Astroworld. After the Houston native’s disappointing joint project with Migos’ Quavo last winter, Astroworld more than exceeded expectations. It’s a massive blockbuster of an album full of flexes—from the Drake and Weeknd features to Stevie Wonder showing up to play harmonica on “Stop Trying to Be God”—and its audacity results in thrilling highs worthy of the album title (named for the shuttered Houston Six Flags), most notably the beat-switching, Drake-assisted hit “Sicko Mode.” And with a trio of rising stars slated to open for Travis at Target Center—boisterous Harlem native Sheck Wes, Young Thug disciple Gunna, and Ohio emo-rapper Trippie Redd—this is easily the must-see arena rap show of the season. 7:30 p.m. $29.95-$89.95. 600 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612-673-1300. December 8 —Michael Madden

First Avenue

There are a few unorthodox things about Noname’s rise in the rap world. The Chicago native was a dedicated spoken-word poet before she ever started rapping, none of her songs could be unironically described as a “banger,” and she doesn’t shoot music videos or post much on Instagram. She’s even been called the “anti-Cardi B.” But with her refreshing style and careful quality control, she’s reached a new height in her career with her debut album, Room 25, her first project since the 2016 mixtape Telefone. Rapping over softly pattering beats, Noname (fka Noname Gyps) is a supreme lyricist, unspooling memorable line after memorable line, sometimes about race in America: “Maybe I’m an insomni-black/Bad sleep triggered by bad government,” she raps on “Blaxploitation.” All in all, it’s been an unconventional path for the 26-year-old, but her arrival as a voice-of-a-generation talent is solidified. With Elton. 18+. 8 p.m. $25. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612-338-8388. January 25 —Michael Madden

Elton John
Target Center

The bitch is back, for just this one last time—Elton John is the latest aging classic rocker to say goodbye to the road. His Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour, which began in September, will be his last (though he says he’ll continue to record), and it passes through Target Center in February. Elton’s setlists for this tour have been as crammed full of fan favorites as you’d expect—the guy has more than 50 Top 40 hits, after all. And to show how durable those tunes are, he was the subject of two tribute albums in 2018: Revamp and Restoration. (The latter, in which assorted Nashville stars pay tribute, easily trounces the former, where pop stars take the reins. You really need to hear Lee Ann Womack handle “Honky Cat.” You really don’t need to hear Ed Sheeran take on “Candle in the Wind.”) Oh, and if you’ve got a couple extra bucks left over after you shell out for tickets, John’s longtime songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin, has been auctioning off his original handwritten lyrics to many of the pair’s hit songs. 8 p.m. $59.50-$249.50. 600 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612-673-0900. February 21 & 22 —Keith Harris