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Freeloader Friday: 71 Free Things To Do This Weekend

Doggie Depot, romantic shopping events, and bar parties galore.

Doggie Depot at the Union Depot

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. For our picks of the week's best events, price be damned, click here.

Delightful chaos at BlackStack Brewing's First Friday Dance Party


First Friday Dance Night Vol. 5

Aw yeah, it’s a dance party. With DJ Robbins Brazil, DJ Molefacekiller, food from Angry Line Cook, and local vendors. RSVP here to claim a free Axman party bag. 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. BlackStack Brewing, 755 Pryor Ave. N., St. Paul.

EMI Audio

Used, open box, and new items, as well as good and beverages for shoppers. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fri.-Sat. 4719 42nd Ave. N., Minneapolis. 

2nd Annual Beach Party

Featuring a photobooth, surf tunes from the Surf Riders, tiki drinks, beach movies on the big screen, and a Hawaiian shirt/tropical attire contest. 7-11 p.m. O'Shaughnessy Distilling Co., 600 Malcolm Ave. SE, Minneapolis.

Arbeiter Third Anniversary

Happy birthday, Arbeiter! (Has it really been three years already? Revisit Racket’s 2021 coverage of this fledgling brewery here.) Ever the party animals, this Minnehaha Avenue taproom is celebrating all week long. On Friday, there will be a vinyl raffle with Down In The Valley Records (donations benefit the Firehouse Performing Arts Center). 7-10 p.m. Arbeiter Brewing Company, 3038 Minnehaha Ave., Minneapolis. 

SmooshingSociable Cider Werks

Winter Warm Up

Well shit, the warm temperatures have claimed another ice event. Sociable Cider Werks had planned to host its annual bonspiel (aka curling and other ice games) on its bar rink, but this year’s balmy winter killed it. So they are pivoting to a tiki-hula-tropical party this weekend, of course. That means folks will be able to play lawn games, including cornhole and other things in the beanbag oeuvre. The Smoosh Racing Championship will invite teams of four to run together while wearing shoes attached to a long piece of wood (It’s free to enter!). So & So’s will be serving up summer eats, and slushies will be on Sociable’s menu all weekend. Find more details here. 2-11 p.m. Fri.; noon to 11 p.m. Sat.; noon to 9 p.m. Sun. Sociable Cider Werks, 1500 Fillmore St. NE, Minneapolis. Through Sunday—Jessica Armbruster

Arcade Day

This one is pretty easy to wrap your head around: Retro video game supplier Midwest Custom Arcades is setting up shop all day long at Boom Island Brewing Co. to create “the ultimate arcade haven,” per promo materials. That means, and here’s the important part, free gaming on generation-spanning cabinets, plus a high-score tourney that includes (possibly) fabulous prizes. Prefer buzzed gaming? Happy hour deals running from 3 to 5 p.m. should loosen you up on the joysticks. Noon to 10 p.m. Boom Island Brewing Co., 5937 Baker Rd., Minnetonka; find more info here.—Jay Boller

St. Paul Bouncing Team

Saint Paul Winter Carnival

While our hearts may lie with the Minnesota State Fair, the Saint Paul Winter Carnival might be the fest that we’re best known for outside the state. And that’s for good reason: Minnesotans have been freaking out the rest of the nation with our enthusiasm for subzero temps for 138 years, even when we get a super warm winter. This year’s installment is as epic as ever, with ice and snow sculpting competitions, winter runs, huge parades, and music in a heated tent in Rice Park. For a complete schedule of events, see Through February 3—Jessica Armbruster

Free Winter Carnival events happening/starting this Friday:

Free Metro Transit Rides to Winter Carnival

Take a survey and score a free ride to events on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  

Saint Paul Bouncing Team Tryouts

Watch people bounce. 6-9 p.m. Landmark Center North Gallery, 75 W. 5th St., St. Paul.

Snow Park at the Fair

9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily through Feb. 5. Minnesota State Fairgrounds, 1265 Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul.

Bomber + Tara

5-7 p.m. Hamernick's Entertainment Chalet at Rice Park, 109 W. Fourth St., St. Paul.


7-10 p.m. Hamernick's Entertainment Chalet at Rice Park, 109 W. Fourth St., St. Paul.

The Great Northern Ice Bar

Free events this Friday at the Great Northern Festival:

Midwestern Melt

With luminary trails, campfires, the premiere of the fest’s cosmic footgolf course, a hands-on solar lamp-making station, snacks, drinks and more. The opening reception at 5 p.m. with Melanin in Motion includes a soup dinner and tunes by DJ QBear of KMOJ. 5-9 p.m. Silverwood Park, 2500 Cty. Rd. E W, St. Anthony.

The Great Northern Ice Bar

Guest variety of bartenders, distilleries, breweries, and other drink makers will be stopping by this 100-foot ice bar spanning an entire block. 4-7 p.m. Friday; 2-6 p.m. Saturday; noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Nicollet Mall, between Washington Avenue and 3rd St. S. (behind Mara), Minneapolis.

Melange Trio

Melange Trio

7-9 p.m. Padraigs, 945 Broadway NE, Minneapolis.

The Matt Arthur Contraption

With Ira Haze and The Straze. 8-11 p.m. White Squirrel Bar, 974 W. Seventh St., St. Paul.


8-11:30 p.m. Schooner Tavern, 2901 27th Ave. S., Minneapolis.

Tiger Blue, Cult Sequence, Bad Idea

10 p.m. 331 Club, 331 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis.

Friday Night Open Mic

21+. 10 p.m. The Comedy Corner Underground, 1501 S. Washington Ave., Minneapolis.

Winter Skolstice at Viking Lakes

Featuring vendors, holiday-themed cocktails, food trucks, free live music, outdoor activities for kids, and more. While some events have cover charges, many happenings are free admission. 4-9 p.m. Mon.-Wed.; 4-10 p.m. Thu.-Sat.; 3-10 p.m. Sun. through Feb. 24. Viking Lakes, 730 Vikings Pkwy., Eagan; find a complete schedule at

Rockin' with the ColdiesJacki Bradham


Rockin' with the Coldies

Could this event benefit from a more descriptive name? Probably, but who are we to quibble with a free weekend of hot air balloon theatics over the skies of Hudson, Wisconsin? Now the main events, and the ones your kiddos will be most interested in, are the three launches featuring around 30 balloonists from around the region—Saturday and Sunday morning at 7:35 a.m. and Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. But “Rockin’ with the Coldies” is a whole thing, and you’re welcome to explore the weekend’s worth of events, including: bike races, craft fairs, pancake breakfasts, beverage crawls, and a torchlight parade complete with a kazoo marching band (!), among other activities. Free (donations accepted). EP Rock Elementary School, 340 13th St., Hudson, Wisconsin; find more info here.—Jay Boller 

Year of the Dragon Celebration

Featuring tons of special beer releases, guest eats, live comedy (Sat.), and kids’ activities (Sun.). All day Sat.-Sun. Arbeiter Brewing Co., 3038 Minnehaha Ave., Minneapolis.

Snow Daze

Featuring a variety of DJ hosted by Backyard Boombox. 2 p.m. to midnight. StormKing Brewpub and Barbecue, 618 N. Fifth St., Minneapolis.

"Dreaming Our Futures"

“Dreaming Our Futures: Ojibwe and Očhéthi Šakówiŋ Artists and Knowledge Keepers”

Featuring a public program at 4 p.m., followed by a reception from 6-8 p.m. Katherine E. Nash Gallery, Regis Center for Art, 405 21st Ave. S., Minneapolis.

Tattoo + Tarot 

Shop from local clothing designers Mx Apparel, Esther Edna Clothing, and No Reason Workshop, plus hand-poke tattooing, tooth gem applications, and tarot readings. Noon to 5 p.m. Ivy Building, 2637 27th Ave. S., Minneapolis.


With Cult Vibes, Bev. 1-4 p.m. White Squirrel Bar, 974 W. Seventh St., St. Paul.


Live electronic music. 6 p.m. White Squirrel Bar, 974 W. Seventh St., St. Paul.

Buddy Holly Tribute Night

With The Bad Companions, Amanda White & John Bitenc. 9 p.m. White Squirrel Bar, 974 W. Seventh St., St. Paul.

Lulu & the Shoe, Poison Ivy, d’Lakes

10 p.m. to 1 a.m. 331 Club, 331 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis.

Ian Valor, 'Heel on Heel'

“Wild Imagination: Artwork by Ian Valor”

Posters, graphic design, and music inspirations. 6-9 p.m. Vine Arts Center, 2637 27th Ave. S., Minneapolis


Featuring artwork curated by Drew Maude-Griffin. The open house event from 2 to 3 p.m. this Saturday will include a talk at 1:30 p.m. The M (Minnesota Museum of Modern Art), 350 Robert St. N., St. Paul. 

Open Studio Saturdays

Open studios, sales, special receptions, and more. Noon to 4 p.m. Northrup King Building, 1500 Jackson St. NE, Minneapolis. 

Lupercalia Valentine's Market

Featuring Vampire Vintage Decor, goth tunes, giveaways, and more. 4-8 p.m. Wild Hare Salon, Northrup King Building, 1500 Jackson St. NE, Minneapolis.

Duane Ditty


New work by Duane Ditty. 7-10 p.m. Rosalux Gallery, 315 W. 48th St., Minneapolis.

Artist Market at CanCan Wonderland

Featuring 10 local artists. 1-6 p.m. CanCan Wonderland, 755 Prior Ave. N., St. Paul.

Show Me Your Hits

Hair bands, top 40, and rock cover tunes. 6-9 p.m. Forgotten Star Brewing, 38 Northern Stacks Dr., Fridley.

Free First Saturday: Festival of Snow 

Remember snow? This installment will include wintery outdoor activities, art kits, activities, free gallery admission, and more. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Walker Art Center, 725 Vineland Place, Minneapolis.

Kramer Hegenbarth

“Flowering In the Dark” 

Ceramic work by Interact Center artist Kramer Hegenbarth. 6-8 p.m. David Petersen Gallery, 4116 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis.

Bartz Snow Sculptures

Based on the event’s Facebook page, yes this event is still on! Open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. through this weekend–weather permitting. Brightwood Hills Golf Course, 1975 Silver Lake Rd. NW, St. Paul.

Becky Kapell and the Fat 6

8-11:30 p.m. Schooner Tavern, 2901 27th Ave. S., Minneapolis.

Lowertown Winter Farmers Markets

Lowertown’s pride and one of the state’s largest markets. 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. 290 5th St. E., St. Paul;

Doggie Depot

More stuff happening in conjunction with the Saint Paul Winter Carnival:

Doggie Depot

Featuring dog hangs, the crowning of the Winter Carnival Canine King & Queen, giveaways, a marketplace, pet experts, and more. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Union Depot, 214 Fourth St. E., St. Paul.

Kids & Family Day

Featuring interactive fun for kids. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Landmark Center North Gallery, 75 W. 5th St., St. Paul.

The Vulcan Victory Torchlight Parade

5:15-7:30 p.m. The parade starts at West 7th at Smith, to 5th Street, to Washington, to 4th Street, ending with the Vulcan overthrow on the steps of the James J. Hill Library at Rice Park.

Overthrow of King Boreas & Fireworks

7 p.m. Rice Park, 109 W. Fourth St., St. Paul.

Berners in the Park

It’s a Bernese mountain dog hang! 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Rice Park, 109 4th St. W., St. Paul.

Bonfire in the Park

Noon to 4 p.m. Feb. 3. Landmark Plaza, Fifth St. and Washington St., St. Paul.

R Factor

Noon. Hamernick's Entertainment Chalet at Rice Park, 109 W. Fourth St., St. Paul.

101.3 KDWB Friday Night Party Zone

With PJ the DJ. 4-10 p.m. Hamernick's Entertainment Chalet at Rice Park, 109 W. Fourth St., St. Paul.

Mpls Parks Foundation

More free events at the Great Northern Festival:

Walk & Talk: North Mississippi Regional Park

Featuring a 90-minute guided walk. 10-11:30 a.m. North Mississippi Regional Park, 5116 N. Mississippi Dr., Minneapolis.

Mpls Craft MarketDarrin Kamnetz


Market Collective MN Makers Markets

Featuring handmade items and vintage threads. Noon to 5 p.m. Blackstack Brewing, 755 Prior Ave. N., St. Paul.

The Case of Cem by Vera Mutafchieva

Translator Angela Rodel discusses, in conversation with Eric Lorberer. 5 p.m. Magers & Quinn, 3038 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis.

Standup Sundays

Hosted by Grant Winkels and Courtney Baka. 7:30 p.m. Fair State Brewing Cooperative, 2506 Central Ave. NE, Minneapolis. 

Odd Market

An indoor maker’s market featuring a dozen local artists and vintage sellers, including jewelry, clothes, prints, comics, and zines. Noon to 4 p.m. Odd Mart, 2520 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis.

Music Under GlassVisit Saint Paul

Music Under the Glass: Andrea Lyn

All shows are standing room-only. 4:30-6:30 p.m. Como Park Zoo & Conservatory, 1225 Estabrook Dr., St. Paul.

Textile Center Garage Sale

The last day of this popular textile sale is free, with kits, patterns, books, tools, and other materials for sale. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Textile Center, 3000 University Ave. SE, Minneapolis.

Lover's Craft Affair Indigenous Market

Featuring 20 local Indigenous vendors. Noon to 4 p.m. Eagle and Condor, 790 Seventh St., St. Paul.


With Dex Wolfe, Kenan Serenbetz. 8 p.m. White Squirrel Bar, 974 W. Seventh St., St. Paul.

Corpse Reviver

3 p.m. 331 Club, 331 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis.

Brass Messengers

7 p.m. 331 Club, 331 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis.

Reuse Minnesota Mend-It Clinic

Need to fix a beloved clothing item? This clinic will help you repair zippers, re-attach buttons, patch holes, and more. 1-4 p.m. Old School by Steeple People, 1901 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis.

Varsity Gaymes

Weekly event features spots on TVs, beer pong, and other bar games. 2 p.m. LUSH Lounge & Theater, 990 NE Central Ave., Minneapolis.

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