Freeloader Friday is your weekly guide to having fun no matter what your budget looks like. Each week we have a list of 100% free events like gallery parties, music, and films in the park, as well as free admission events like special happy hours, markets, and more.
Saint Paul Winter Carnival
The Saint Paul Winter Carnival might be the only local festival that was borne out of spite. When a few East Coast journalists deemed Minnesota an inhospitable Siberia in 1885, the locals responded with an outdoor carnival the following year. Over 100 years later (136, to be exact), we’re still partying every January to prove them wrong. Suck it, easterners! This year’s event takes place January 28 through February 6, and will include ice and snow sculpting contests, fireworks in Rice Park, special happy hours, family-friendly events outdoors, sporting tournaments, a parade, and more. High-five, Siberia. Events take place all over the city, but many happenings are scheduled in the usual place downtown near Rice Park/the Landmark Center, as well as at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. Find the full schedule at wintercarnival.com. Through February 6 –Jessica Armbruster
2022 Multi-Block Ice Carving Competition
Part of the Saint Paul Winter Carnival. Thursday through Saturday. Rice Park, 109 Fourth St. W, St. Paul.
Winter Carnival Music Series & Ice Bar
Featuring Austin Healy with 23rd Hour. Rice Park, 109 Fourth St. W., St. Paul.
PSYPL, Joe and the Mechanics
Progressive pop. 8 p.m. White Squirrel Bar, 974 W. Seventh St., St. Paul.
Dreamboat, The Way Back Yard Boys
21+. 9:30 p.m. 331 Club, 331 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis.
Great Northern Festival
I’ve got plenty of reservations about the whole “North” branding effort (starting with the fact that it’s a branding effort) but I gotta admit this is a cleverly curated festival that taps effectively into what makes Minnesota culturally and ecologically unique. The festival kicks off Wednesday night with a “winter village” launch party at northeast Minneapolis’s Quincy Hall, then begins in earnest the following day. Highlights include a greenhouse of local flora, encased in ice, in a downtown St. Paul alley, curated by Jovan C. Speller and Andy DuCett; “thermic bathing experiences” (fancy branding terms for a sauna and a polar plunge); a series of climate discussions; opportunities to experience sound deprivation at the anechoic chamber at Orfield Laboratories, and plenty of individual events. I guess that does sound pretty “great.” Find the complete schedule here. Through February 6 —Keith Harris
Jovan C. Speller & Andy DuCett: Conservatory
Part of the Great Northern Festival. Enter a greenhouse of local flora, encased in ice, in a downtown St. Paul alley, with soundscapes and other art intended to center on Blackness. It’s free, but you’ll need to register. 3-7 p.m. Jan. 27–Feb 6. 141 Fourth St. E, St. Paul.
Molly Joyce: Perspective
Part of the Great Northern Festival. This ongoing multimedia project features interviews from a variety of people living with disabilities, including musician Gaelynn Lea, writer/storyteller Kevin Kling and yoga teacher Matthew Sanford. Screenings take place every 20 minutes during the opening reception from 6-8 p.m. Second Shift Studio Space, 1128 Payne Ave., St. Paul.
Fire and Ice Winter Social
Featuring hot air balloons, free ice cream and rootbeer floats, chili and beer for sale. 2-7 p.m. Friday; noon to 7 p.m. Saturday. Lowell Park, 201 Water St. N., Stillwater.
U.S. Pond Hockey Tournament
This weekend, hockey fanatics, from amateur to retired pros, will be at the lake to compete for the Golden Shovel. After taking a corona year off, the gang is coming together again for the U.S. Pond Hockey Tournament. This year, the event will be spread out over two weekends instead of one, and we’re now in the second week. Divisions include men’s, women’s, sled, rink rat, 40-plus, and 50-plus. In addition to cheering on teams, spectators can enjoy free open skating on a separate ice rink, food concessions, and a beer garden. Click here for more info and for the complete schedule. Free. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Lake Nokomis, 4800 E. Nokomis Pkwy., Minneapolis. Though Sunday –Jessica Armbruster
Arbeiter Brewing Anniversary Week
We’re fans of Arbeiter here at Racket, so we’re pleased to tell you that the Minnehaha Avenue brewery turns one whole year old this week—and to celebrate, they’re rolling out “a banger selection of beers.” Friday is for the 45th Parallel Apple Brandy Barrel-Aged Roggen Stickum Rye Sticke Alt and J. Carver Whiskey Barrel-Aged Roggen Stickum Sticke Alt—say that five times fast. And on Saturday the 29th, they’ll release Buffalo Trace Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout. Happy birthday, Arbeiter! Maybe next year we can blow out the candles on the cake without worrying about this whole nightmarish pandemic. Arbeiter Brewing Co., 3038 Minnehaha Ave., Minneapolis; find more info here.—Em Cassel
Eden Prairie Sale
This pop-up consignment sale features housewares, electronics, clothing, sporting goods, toys, books, and more. Take an extra 50% off on Sunday. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. 6868 Washington Ave S Suite 100, Eden Prairie.
Community Bonfire and Luminary Walk
Ice and paper luminaries light a ½ mile trail. With hot chocolate, s’mores, a bonfire, ice skating, and pizza for sale from Brick Oven Bus. 5-8 p.m. Hansen Park, 1555 Fifth St. NW, New Brighton.
6 p.m. Utepils Brewing, 225 Thomas Ave. N., Minneapolis.
RuPaul’s Drag Race Viewing Party
Hosted by B. Louise. 6:30-8:30 p.m. Black Hart of St. Paul, 1415 University Ave. W., St. Paul.
Friday Night Open Mic
21+. 10 p.m. The Comedy Corner Underground, 1501 S. Washington Ave., Minneapolis.
Latins on Ice
Winter in Minnesota is… an experience. This weekend, Teatro del Pueblo and friends will take to the ice of Lake Nokomis to share tales of chilling terror and triumph of winter here from a Latinx perspective. Featuring artists like Sabrín Diehl, Isabella Dunsieth, Antonio Rios-Luna, Xochi de la Luna, and Alex Barreto Hathaway, this show is free, and takes place during the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships. There will be storytelling, riffs on Latin culture, and even a few (probably precarious) attempts at ice skating. You’ll find them on the frozen lake; look for the inflatable palm trees and beach towels, and you can RSVP to the event here. Part of the Great Northern Festival. Free. 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Lake Nokomis, 4800 E. Nokomis Pkwy., Minneapolis. Though Sunday –Jessica Armbruster
Barley and Snow: A Panel on Climate Action, Beer, and Skiing
Part of the Great Northern Festival. Featuring a talk and some Fat Tire beer. Registration is required. 4:30 p.m. Malcolm Yards Market, 501 30th Ave. SE, Minneapolis.
Winter Carnival Music Series & Ice Bar
Featuring Lipstick-N-Dynamite with DJ Bakeshow Baker. 5:30-10 p.m. Rice Park, 109 Fourth St. W., St. Paul.
Vulcan Snow Park Snow Sculptures and Snow Maze
9 a.m. to 9 p.m. through Sunday, Feb 6. Minnesota State Fairgrounds, 1265 Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul.
2022 King Boreas Grande Day Parade
2-4 p.m. Rice Park, 109 Fourth St. W., St. Paul.
With Elour, Red Eye Ruby. 8 p.m. White Squirrel Bar, 974 W. Seventh St., St. Paul.
Art Sled Rally
I’ll tell ya what: I ventured outside the home last weekend for the first time in… far, far too long. My destination: Hanging out with my five-year-old nephew at the Lake Harriet Kite Festival. And ya know what? It’s easy to forget, given the protracted End Times we’re still enduring, how dang endearing arty, community-based Minneapolis events can be. Art Sled Rally should be no exception. Founded in 2008, the event features youngsters barreling down the sled hill at Powderhorn Park in zany, cardboard-embellished sleds. The tradition isn’t all that new: Arty sled events at Powderhorn date back to the early 1900s, according to organizers. Anyone is welcome to enter a sled into this year’s celebration, provided you register online beforehand. Free. 2 p.m. Powderhorn Park, 3400 15th Ave. S., Minneapolis; find more info here. –Keith Harris
JRD & The Big Mistake, Wild Horses
21+. 9:30 p.m. 331 Club, 331 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis.
Pints and Pokes
Beer poking on the patio, as well as other special treats. Noon to 6 p.m. Headflyer Brewing, 861 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis.
The Robot Invasion Show
Featuring Side Two. 7-10 p.m. 612 Brew, 945 Broadway NE, Minneapolis.
Unlock It: Silverwood Park
Part of the Great Northern Festival. Using a map, follow clues to unlock letters that form a keyword. Once you’ve completed the Silverwood Park map, stop by the Visitor Center. Complete as many map courses as you can by 2 p.m. Feb. 5 to be entered to win prizes. Find the map here. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Silverwood Park, 2500 Cty. Rd. E W, St. Anthony.
Free Saturday Yoga at Union Depot
Bring a yoga mat, water, and towel if you need them. 9 a.m. Union Depot, 214 Fourth St. E., St. Paul.
Mill City Farmers’ Market
With local farmers, artisans, ceramics, giftables, food, and more. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mill City Museum, 704 S. Second St., Minneapolis.
Michael Kleber-Diggs: Worldly Things
The author shares new poetry. RSVP here. Part of the Great Northern Festival. Open Book, 1011 S. Washington Ave., Minneapolis.
Legacy of the Loud: Winter Carnival Music Series & Ice Bar
Featuring cover songs of ‘80s hair band anthems. 3 p.m. Rice Park, 109 Fourth St. W, St. Paul.
2022 Individual Block Ice Carving Competition: Artisan and Pro Divisions
9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Rice Park, 109 Fourth St. W, St. Paul.
Philip Glass Party
Here’s one of those Great Northern Festival one-off events I alluded to above. It’s Philip Glass’s 85th birthday (actually, the 31st is) and if you were in New York, you could celebrate the occasion with Laurie Anderson at the Rink at Rockefeller Center. (Skating around the same loop again and again is a pretty good metaphor for Glass’s music, huh?) Well, whoop-de-doo. We’ve got plenty of ice rinks in Minnesota, but does New York have the United Crushers Mill? That landmark will serve as a movie screen tonight, as Glass’s experimental environmentalist film Koyaanisqatsi, made with Godfrey Reggio, will be projected on the mill. Nearby Malcolm Yards will also have specialty cocktails, vegan cake, and Glass’s favorite pizza, which is apparently… potato? Free. 6 p.m. Malcolm Yards, 501 30th Ave. SE, Minneapolis; find more info here.—Keith Harris
Canada vs. USA MTN
Soccer and beer specials. 2 p.m. Brit’s Pub, 1110 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis.
8 p.m. White Squirrel Bar, 974 W. Seventh St., St. Paul.
The Mikkel Factory
21+. 3 p.m. 331 Club, 331 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis.
Open Mic Night
Music, poetry, comedy, whatever is welcome. Sign up at 4:30 p.m. The Cave at Keg and Case Market, 928 W. 7th St., St. Paul.