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Freeloader Friday: 85 Free Things To Do This Weekend

Doggie races and hangs, drinking outdoors, ice sculptures galore, and last call for the Winter Carnival.

City of Lakes Loppet Winter Festival|

Hugo and his human Steve at the Skijor Loppet

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.


DREAMN Release Party

Featuring the the release of the non-alcoholic terpene tea DREAMN in three flavors, specialty mocktails, a nacho bar from Flagsmash, and tunes from DJ Omaur Bliss from 7-10 p.m. Noon to midnight. Inbound BrewCo., 701 N. 5th St., Minneapolis.

Black Entrepreneurs Day at The Capitol

Join ShelettaMakesMeLaugh in talking to lawmakers about how they can help your businesses thrive. 10:30 a.m. Minnesota State Capitol, 75 Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul.

Total Gaze, Another Heaven, Unstable Shapes

21+. 9 p.m. 331 Club, 331 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis.

Weee!Saint Paul Bouncing Team Tryouts

Saint Paul Winter Carnival

Is this the best carnival born out of spite? Probably! For the past 137 years, St. Paul has been celebrating winter, proving to the world that the weather here isn’t so scary. So bust out the hand warmers and get in on the fun. This year’s multi-day, multi-event party returns with more free stuff to do than ever before. That includes parades like the nighttime Moon Glow Parade and the daytime march for King Borealis. Rice Park is home to beautiful ice sculptures, trivia nights, live music, and a warming house offering beer, seltzers, wine, and warm mulled drinks. Other locations loaded with fun include the Landmark Center (family fun!) and Xcel Energy Center (cat and dog shows!), and the Vulcan Snow Park at the Minnesota Fairgrounds, which is stacked with things to see and do: snow sculpting contests, a giant snow slide, and sporting events and competitions. For a complete schedule of events, see Through February 5—Jessica Armbruster

Free events this weekend at the Saint Paul Winter Carnival:

The Warming House

This large heated tent has mulled wine, craft craft beers, hard ciders, and seltzers; vanilla creme soda; and cocoa and coffee; plus board games, live entertainment, and other happenings scheduled during the carnival. Bring a non-perishable food donation for the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center. 4-10 p.m. daily through the festival. Market Street, N. Market St., St. Paul.

Snow Park at the Fair: Snow Sculptures & More

Watch artists create snow sculptures and walk through a winter wonderland of whimsy. Daily 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. through Feb. 5. Minnesota State Fairgrounds, 1265 Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul.

Saint Paul Winter Carnival Ice Carvings

Or maybe you prefer ice? Watch artists turn blocks of ice into really cool stuff. You can also see pieces daily–while they last. Rice Park, 109 Fourth St. W., St. Paul.

Winter Carnival Memorabilia Display

Winter Carnival Memorabilia Display

A varied display of Winter Carnival items throughout the years. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Landmark Plaza Warming House, 75 Fifth St. W., St. Paul.

Saint Paul Bouncing Team Tryouts

Watch people go flying through the air. 6-9 p.m. Landmark Plaza Warming House, 75 Fifth St. W., St. Paul.

Billy Johnson

4 p.m. Landmark Plaza Warming House, 75 Fifth St. W., St. Paul.

Free and Easy Band

Covers from the ‘70s to now. 6-10 p.m. Rice Park, 109 Fourth St. W., St. Paul.

"Iregular: Our Common Home" at The Great Northern

The Great Northern

Yes, it’s a cliché, but this sprawling, multi-city festival offers a little bit of everything. There will be a sauna village, there will be concerts (pow wow singer Joe Rainey), there will be art installations (Seitu Jones, Aaron Dysart), and there will be festivals within festivals (the Saint Paul Winter Carnival, Out There, and the U.S. Pond Hockey Tournament are all part of this fest). Orfield Labs will once again invite people to sign up for sessions in its anechoic chamber, billed as one of the quietest places on Earth. K’óoben’s pop-up will feature guest chefs who will prepare meals under the theme of Minnesota in the dead of winter. And a little snow won’t stop Minnesotans from watching a movie outdoors, apparently, as the David Bowie biopic Moonage Daydream will screen at Malcolm Yards. Freeloader note: Not all events are free, but many of them are! Find the complete schedule here. Through February 5—Jessica Armbruster

Free events happening at The Great Northern Festival

Iregular: Our Common Home

Large scale installations explore our impact on the environment. Find more info at online. 214 Fourth St. E., St. Paul.

Aaron Dysart: Regrowth

A new installation. Peavey Plaza, 1101 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis.

Maren Hassinger: Love (for Minneapolis)

Multidisciplinary artist Maren Hassinger reimagines her installation Embrace/Love in Love (for Minneapolis). Minneapolis College of Art and Design - Courtyard, 2501 Stevens Ave., Minneapolis.

Klondike Dog DerbyDynamic Photowerks

Klondike Dog Derby

Couldn’t drive four hours to last week’s Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon along the North Shore? Then enjoy another celebrated, historic sled-dog race right here in the Twin Cities. With roots dating back to the ‘30s, the Klondike Dog Derby will send 300+ doggos racing around Lake Minnetonka for a top prize of $10,000. Snow dogs rule the entire weekend, with family-friendly events like dog sled rides, wrap party featuring beer and live music, and a hug-a-husky hour where you can meet, and yes, hug the canine competitors. Free. Noon. Lake Minnetonka; view the trail map here; find more info here. Friday and Saturday.—Jay Boller

The Ultimate RV Show

Featuring over 300 fully staged new and pre-owned RVs, outdoor accessories, info on campgrounds and resorts in the area, and educational seminars. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. The Minneapolis Convention Center, 1301 Second Ave. S., Minneapolis.

Thomas Sticha

6-9 p.m. OMNI Brewing Co., 9462 Deerwood Ln., Maple Grove.

Under Pressure 4th Anniversary Party

Featuring BBQ from Big Daddy's Rockin Q, live music from Chris Ryshavy (6 p.m. Friday) and  Hula Creek (6 p.m. Saturday). 4-10 p.m. Friday; 1-10 p.m. Saturday. Under Pressure Brewing Company, 8806 Seventh Ave. N., Golden Valley.

Winter SKOLstice

This free festival features a warming house with drinks and food from Omni, plenty of bonfires, and free ice rinks for skating, curling, and pond hockey (just bring skates). Special events scheduled during the winter include trivia nights, live music, and more. Find tickets and more info at 4-10 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; noon to 10 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Viking Lakes, 2645 Vikings Circle, Eagan. Open daily through February 19. 

Friday Night Open Mic

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

City of Lakes Loppet Winter Festival


City of the Lakes Loppet Winter Festival

Now in its 20th year, this two-day festival offers a variety of urban ski races, games, and special events. That includes 37K races for skiers and fat-tire bikers, snowshoe races, skijor (doggy!) races, sitting ski races, and kids’ races. There’s a kubb tourney for those who appreciate lawn games–even if they’re in the snow–and the Luminary Loppet invites families, friends, and athletes to stroll, snowshoe, or ski around the Lake of the Isles, enjoying a variety of bonfires, performances, and ice-themed art installations that ends in a beer garden featuring food trucks and brew (that event was rescheduled for February 18–remember when we had warmer weather?). It’s free to cheer people on, otherwise sign up at Theodore Wirth Park, 1301 Theodore Wirth Pkwy., Minneapolis. Saturday and Sunday–Jessica Armbruster


With Funk N Spuds. 9 p.m. White Squirrel Bar, 974 W. Seventh St., St. Paul.

Unattractive Giant Monster, Mary Jam, Ray Gun Youth 

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

Doggie Depot

Doggie Depot

Featuring the crowning of the Canine King and Queen, giveaways, marketplace, pet experts, and more. Visit for more information. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Union Depot, 214 Fourth St. E, St. Paul.

Rank Strangers, the Sex Rays, Black Widows

All ages. 1-4 p.m. Barely Brothers Records, 783 Raymond Ave., St. Paul.

Makers’ Market 

Featuring 16 makers. 1-6 p.m. Indeed Brewing Co., 711 15th Ave. NE, Minneapolis. 

Pints and a Poke

Buy a winter release beer and get it poked. Noon to 6 p.m. Headflyer Brewing, 861 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis.

Saturdays at Solar Arts

Wander the studios, shop the pop-up market, check out art, and listen to music. Noon to 6 p.m. Solar Arts Building, 711 15th Ave. NE, Minneapolis.

Keg and Case Weekend Market

11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Keg and Case Market, 928 7th St. W., St. Paul.

Mary Gibney

Funhouse Waiting Room

Artist Mary Gibney draws inspiration from a variety of sources: dive bars, old circus photography, the Hamm’s sign, old-school matchbooks, a 1959 Wards Catalog. Her latest collection of pieces, featured in “Funhouse Waiting Room,” includes paintings, drawings, collages, and prints filled with bartenders, giant martini glasses, deer heads on walls, and ghost patrons from previous binge drinking expeditions. Her portraits of circus strong men examine  homoeroticism, gender expression, and fluidity (sometimes she swaps the men for cats because, why not?). This joyous exhibition should be a little odd, definitely a good time, and won’t give you a hangover. There will be an opening reception on Saturday, February 4, from 7-10 p.m. Rosalux Gallery, 315 West 48th Street, Minneapolis. –Jessica Armbruster

6 Years of Beer: Utepils Anniversary Party

Featuring a free meat raffle (and other prizes), beer poking, all-day beer specials, tapping of an anniversary pils, photo booth, live music by the High 48s and Dang Ol’ Tri’ole, and kids games and activities. 11 a.m. Utepils Brewing, 225 Thomas Ave. N., Minneapolis.

Mavens of Fat Bikes Ride

Weekly fat bike rides with expert guest ride leaders. Ride leaves from the West Bank location, rides along the Theo Wirth trails. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Freewheel Bike1812 S 6th St, Minneapolis

Six Nations Rugby 

Featuring Wales v Ireland and England v Scotland on Saturday; Italy v France Sunday. Brit’s Pub, 1110 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis.

Ice in Bloom at Mia

Check out this winter ice garden while the weather lasts. The opening day event runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Minneapolis Institute of Art, Target Park Courtyard, 3rd Avenue Entrance, 2400 3rd Ave. S., Minneapolis.

Steven Ozone

Steve Ozone: Forty Years of Portraits

Photography spanning decades! 5:30-8 p.m. Traffic Zone Center for Visual Art, 250 Third Ave. N., Minneapolis.

Dan Ferstenou

Tunes. 2-5 p.m. OMNI Brewing Co., 9462 Deerwood Ln., Maple Grove.

Jud Hailey

Tunes. 6-9 p.m. OMNI Brewing Co., 9462 Deerwood Ln., Maple Grove.

The Thirsty River

Bluegrass. 6-9 p.m. Luce Line Brewing, 12901 16th Ave. N., Plymouth.

Wonders of Winter

Outdoor activities include horse and carriage rides, snowshoeing, kick-sledding, crokicurl, ice skating, s’mores, scavenger hunts, kite flying, an ice carving demonstration, and food trucks. 1-4 p.m. Central Park Maple Grove, 12000 Central Park Way, Maple Grove.

Great Minnesota Bike Swap
Ah yes, the dead of winter, when cyclists look at all the bike parts and accessories sitting untouched in their garage and/or basement and/or in various piles on the floor and chairs of their house and think, “I’m really sick of staring at all this shit.” Their hoarding is your reward at The Great Minnesota Bike Swap this weekend, where you can find tons of bikes, parts, and gear from mechanics, collectors, and riders around the state. It’s free to shop—and crucially, heated, thanks to its location in the indoor courtyard of South Lake Village mall—with a makers’ market, refreshments, music, and a bike show. Free. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Michael’s Cycles, 16731 Highway 13 S., Ste. 120, Prior Lake; find event info here.—Em Cassel

Edina Winter Mini Market

Featuring RiffRaff Jams and Jellies, Quince Market, Sprout Ceramics, Boom Island Woodworking, and Renee Boynton. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Edina Coffee Roasters, 7201 York Ave. S., Edina.

Vintage & Makers Market

Hosted by Juniper Lou Markets with over 7 other vendors. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Earl Giles Distillery, 1325 Quincy St. NE, Minneapolis.

Market Collective MN Makers Market
Shop from BIPOC and queer vendors and allies. 2-6 p.m. Indeed Brewing, 711 NE 15th Ave., Minneapolis.

ArtJuice Anti-Valentine Market

Featuring live music and art. 2-7 p.m. 612Brew, 945 Broadway St. NE, Minneapolis.

Berners in the Park

Free events this weekend at the Saint Paul Winter Carnival:

Cocoa at the Castle

Free cocoa for kids with Carnival Royalty. 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Landmark Plaza Warming House, 75 Fifth St. W., St. Paul.

Berners in the Park

Hang out with dogs and the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of the Greater Twin Cities. 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Rice Park, 109 Fourth St. W., St. Paul.


Noon to 3 p.m. Rice Park, 109 Fourth St. W., St. Paul.

101.3 KDWB Friday Night Party Zone 

With PJ the DJ. 4-10 p.m. Rice Park, 109 Fourth St. W., St. Paul.

Vulcan Victory Torchlight Parade

Routes travels West 7th at Smith to 5th Street to Washington to 4th Street, followed by the overthrow of winter on the steps of the James J. Hill Library and fireworks. 5-7:30 p.m. Rice Park, 109 Fourth St. W., St. Paul.

Bomber + One

3-5:30 p.m. Landmark Warming Plaza,  75 W. Fifth St., St. Paul.

Kids & Family Day

Featuring interactive activities for kids, performances, educational presentations , vendors, more. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Landmark Center North Gallery, 75 W. Fifth St., St. Paul.

Photo by Emmet Kowler, courtesy Walker Art Center

Free First Saturday: 

Featuring art kits, activities, film screenings, and more. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Walker Art Center, 725 Vineland Place, Minneapolis.

The Great Northern Winter Exchange at Emery

Shop local makers, craftsmen, and artists. Part of The Great Northern Festival. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 28 & Feb. 4. Hotel Emery, 215 Fourth St. S., Minneapolis.

Nature Rocks! Outdoor Center Open House

Weekly events include free family-friendly activities such as hiking, hands-on interactions with live animals, craft projects and more. Through May 27. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Eden Prairie Outdoor Center, 13765 Staring Lake Pkwy, Eden Prairie.

Yoga at Union Depot

Hosted by Studio 9-to-5. Bring a mat and some water; sign up here. 9 a.m. Union Depot, 214 Fourth St. E., St. Paul.

Farmers’ Markets

Neighborhood Roots Winter Market

This indoor/outdoor monthly market features vendors from Kingfield, Fulton, and Nokomis farmers’ markets. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 4, Mar. 11. Bachmann’s, 6010 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis.

Downtown Winter Market 

9 a.m. to 1 p.m. St Paul Farmers Market, 290 East Fifth St., St. Paul.

Mill City Farmers Market

With over 40 local farmers, makers, and more. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mill City Museum, 704 S. Second St., Minneapolis.


Moonage Daydream 

Outdoor screening and closing night party, part of The Great Northern Festival. With tunes from DJ Yasmeenah. Free; reserve a spot here. 5-8:30 p.m. Malcolm Yards Market, 501 30th Ave. SE, Minneapolis.

Billy Johnson & George Mckelvey

7-10 p.m. O'Shaughnessy Distilling, 600 Malcolm Ave SE, Minneapolis.

Hunny Bear

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

Meat Raffle and Beer Bingo

11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Forgotten Star Brewing, 38 Northern Stacks Dr., Fridley. 

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. 

Corpse Reviver

With Fiddler Ryan Young. 5 p.m. 331 Club, 331 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis.

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