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Freeloader Friday: 99 Free Things To Do This Weekend

Holy wow! Winter parades, Hawaiian-themed beer events, Vulcan shenanigans, vintage markets, and so much more!

Saint Paul Winter Carnival|

The Vulcan Reveal, a very chill event at the Saint Paul Winter Carnival.

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.

Vulcan Snow Park


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.

Adam Daniel

Piano tunes. 5-7 p.m. Landmark Plaza Warming House, 75 Fifth St. W., St. Paul.

Uncle Chunk

Alternative rock. 7-10 p.m. Rice Park, 109 Fourth St. W., St. Paul.

U.S. Pond Hockey

U.S. Pond Hockey Championships

Every year, in the dead of winter, hockey teams convene to compete in one of the most epic amateur sporting tourneys in the nation. Players come from all walks of life and backgrounds; some are retired professional athletes, others have simply been playing for years at their local pond. Some are from the Twin Cities, and some are from outstate, Canada, and beyond. Divisions include youth, men, women, and rink rat, with the winner taking home the Golden Shovel. For those not competing, a warming tent offers beer, hot bevs, and eats, and there’s always a rink set aside for all ages open skating. For complete game schedules and more info, visit Lake Nokomis, 5001 Lake Nokomis Pkwy. W., Minneapolis. Through January 29—Jessica Armbruster

Second Anniversary and Lunar New Year Celebration

Arbeiter Brewing’s second anniversary (and third Lunar New Year celebration) means five days of new beer releases, food trucks, and festivities. On Friday, the new beers are Botany (a wine barrel-aged Brett imperial Pilsner with hand-picked plums from Botany BrewFarm) and Tokki (Korean rice lager), the food is from PARRALILY, and there’s a special owner’s DJ set. Saturday is for origami and crafts from noon to 5 p.m., Korean dance performances from 2 to 5 p.m., and a Hanji paper activity from 3 to 5 p.m., plus food from Union Hmong Kitchen starting at 2 p.m. Find the full info here. Arbeiter Brewing Company, 3038 Minnehaha Ave., Minneapolis. Through Saturday—Em Cassel

Pearl After Dark: Sunset at the Pearl Lagoon

It’s a party in a vintage shop. GP celebrates turning seven with cocktails, live bossa nova by the Buffalo Function Music Band, prizes for the best dressed attendee. Tropical '70s looks encouraged. 7-10 p.m. The Golden Pearl Vintage, 507A E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis.

The Collaboratory 4th Fridays

Hosted by Carnage the Executioner and DJ Piecemeal, with improvisational jazz, beat boxing, and rhythmic tunes. 21+. 8 p.m. White Squirrel Bar, 974 W. Seventh St., St. Paul.

120 Minutes

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

Sam Robertson

Roundtable Discussion with Artist Sam Robertson

The local artist discusses his trippy artwork and the release of his artistic take on the New Illustrated King James Bible. An art reception follows. 4-7 p.m. Open Book, 1011 S. Washington Ave., Minneapolis.

Cabin Fever Art Pop-Up

Featuring local art, spa treats, tarot readings by WitchWay Tarot, and CBD/THC shopping. 3-8 p.m. Smokeless Smoking Northeast, 514 Hennepin Ave. E., Minneapolis.

Marc Bailey Live

6 p.m. Utepils Brewing, 225 Thomas Ave. N., Minneapolis.

Island Time 

Featuring DJ’d Hawaiin tunes from the Ring Toss Twins, prizes for best dressed (Tommy Bahama shirts and hula skirts recommended). 6 p.m. Forgotten Star Brewing, 38 Northern Stacks Dr., Fridley. 

"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.

Kablusiak: Qiniqtuaq 

A solo exhibition by Kablusiak in partnership with FD13 residency for the arts. Bockley Gallery, 2123 W. 21st St., Minneapolis

How Tribal Nations Can Lead the Way to a Renewable Energy Future

Talk featuring Robert Blake and Chéri Smith, moderated by MPR’s Brandt Williams with poetry by Strong Buffalo. Register and find more info here. 4 p.m. American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Ave. Minneapolis.

Tariq Fancy: A Journey from Purpose to Whistleblower

Hosted by New Standard Institute’s Maxine Bédat. RSVP here. 5:30 p.m. American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Ave. Minneapolis.

Kelsie Ward, "Trace"

Trace: Gallery Reception

A solo exhibition of landscapes by Kelsie Ward. 5-7 p.m. Coffman Memorial Union, 300 Washington Ave. SE, Minneapolis.

Armatage Fire & Ice Skating Party

Featuring an ice rink, bonfire, hot chocolate, popcorn, and s'mores. Bring winter kid for kids and adults to donate; or pick up items you need. 6-7:30 p.m. Armatage Community Center, W. 57th St., Minneapolis.

The Summerbabies

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

Four Pints Shy

Four Pints Shy

8-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Kieran's Irish Pub, 85 N. Sixth St., Minneapolis.

Manchester City FC vs Arsenal (FA Cup)

Sports on the TV! 2 p.m. Brit's Pub, 1110 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis.

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.

Powderhorn Sled Rally


Powderhorn Art Sled Rally

At this adorable, absolutely charming annual event, folks build an art sled out of cardboard, glitter, and a lot of Elmer’s Glue, then send themselves down a hill in hopes of reaching speeds of (maybe?) upwards of 2 mph. Many won’t make it to the bottom, others may gently crash into spectators, some will need a push if they get stuck in a snowbank. But oh, what a delightful spectacle! Don’t miss this sweet event. You can find updates, including sled building sessions, at Free. 2 p.m. Powderhorn Park, 3400 15th Ave. S., Minneapolis.–Jessica Armbruster

Low-Fidelity Design: Making Techniques from the Minnesota Underground Music Scene

This new show opens up this weekend, and admission is free! Goldstein Gallery, McNeal Hall, 1985 Buford Ave., St. Paul.

Winter Luau '23

Tropical vibes include tropical drinks, including Rip Tide, as well as Hawaiian fare like Kalua pork, Spam sandwiches on King's Hawaiian, Spam-aroni & cheese, and mango slaw. 2-11 p.m. Bent Brewstillery, 1744 Terrace Dr., Roseville. 

Snow Daze: Winter 'Haus' Party 

Featuring DJ tunes and drinks. 2-10 p.m. Bauhaus Brew Labs, 1315 Tyler St. NE, Minneapolis.

KPOP-UP MN 2023: For the Love of Kpop

Featuring Kpop fan-merch vendors, dance performances and workshops, PC trading, Toploader deco workshop, freebies, and more. For more info visit 2:30-8:30 p.m. Highland Park Community Center, 1978 Ford Parkway, St. Paul.

Cole Diamond

Cole Diamond Band

Vintage rock ‘n’ roll and outlaw country. 9 p.m. White Squirrel Bar, 974 W. Seventh St., St. Paul.

Kite Fest

If you read any of the local Reddit communities, the posts this time of year are littered with “Why do we live here?” laments which, inevitably, turn into free therapy sessions ripe with advice about beating the winter blues. Events like this one—where the bundled-up masses gather to gawk, eyes skyward, at fleets upon fleets of zany and/or beautiful kites—are a great reminder of why Minneapolis is the greatest place on Earth, regardless of season. I don’t really need to prime you any further; the Kite Fest is a reliable blast whether you’re a tot or a decades-long Kite Fest veteran. Logistical heads up: Some nearby streets will be unparkable, so organizers encourage folks to use the free shuttle located at Bde Maka Ska’s Executive Building (3033 Excelsior Blvd.). Free. Noon to 4 p.m. Bdé Umáŋ/Lake Harriet, 4135 W. Lake Harriet Pkwy., Minneapolis; find more info here.—Jay Boller 

Fistful of Datas,  Free Radicals

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

Saint Paul Winter Carnival

Free events this weekend at the Saint Paul Winter Carnival:

2023 King Boreas Grande Day Parade

Bands, floats, businesses, and royalty make their wayalong West 7th; find details about the parade route here. 2-4 p.m. Rice Park, 109 Fourth St. W., St. Paul.

2023 Vulcan Reveal

Vulcanus Rex LXXXV leads the way as the Vulcan Krewe take to the streets to put an end to Boreas and his wintery bluster (lol, good luck with that).10 a.m. Como Lakeside Pavilion, 1360 Lexington Pkwy. N., St. Paul.

Lipstick & Dynamite

A classic combo. This cover band specializes in ‘80s rock. 7-10 p.m. Rice Park, 109 Fourth St. W., St. Paul.

Juwaria Jama and Isra HirsiThe Great Northern

Free events happening at The Great Northern Festival

The Future of Sustainable Travel

Panel talk moderated by Kate Nelson. RSVP here. 10 a.m. American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Ave. Minneapolis.

David & Kai Salmela: Sense and Sustainability

The duo discuss recent work, their approach to design, and environmental and place-based factors. Hosted by Minnesota Design Center’s Tom Fisher. RSVP here. 11:30 a.m. American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Ave. Minneapolis.

Speaker Series at The Great Northern Sauna Village

Featuring live podcasts of Sauna Talk and Rebel and Be Well. Register here. 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Malcolm Yards Market (in the Blueprint Room), 501 30th Ave. SE, Minneapolis.

Climate Announcement from Lake Superior’s National Parks & Askov Finlayson

With Senator Tina Smith. RSVP here. 1 p.m. American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Ave., Minneapolis.

Juwaria Jama and Isra Hirsi: Power of the Youth Voice

Moderated by Change Narrative’s Jothsna Harris. RSVP here. 2 p.m. American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Ave., Minneapolis.

Duluth Mayor Emily Larson: The Role and Opportunity of a Climate Refuge

Moderated by MPR’s Dan Kraker. RSVP here. 3:30 p.m. American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Ave., Minneapolis.

Cultural Food Preservation, Climate Limitations, and Adaptation

With Jovan C. Speller and Gabrielle E. W. Carter, moderated by Erin Sharkey. RSVP here. 5 p.m. American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Ave., Minneapolis.

Our Common Home Walking Tour

An outdoor walk and talk in Lowertown. Sign up here. 7:30 p.m. Union Depot, 214 Fourth St. E., St. Paul.

The Great Northern Winter Exchange at Emery

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

Joshua Cunningham

Joshua Cunningham

The plein air painter gives an artist talk and demonstration. 2-4 p.m. Groveland Gallery, 25 Groveland Terrace, 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.

Lake Minnetonka Klondike Dog Derby Cutest Puppy Contest

Vote for your favorite puppy or enter your own pup (6 months of age or younger) for a chance to win prizes. 1-4 p.m. Back Channel Brewing, 4787 Shoreline Dr., Spring Lake.

Winter Art Gala

Shop from local artists. 6-8 p.m. Gigi's Cafe, 824 W. 36th St., Minneapolis.

Common Choir, VVakefield, Phase Meridian, Oknice

6:30 p.m. 11 Wells Spirits, 704 Minnehaha Ave. E., St. Paul.

AlisonWendy Jewelry & You're the Party Pop-up

Shop local from these two makers. Noon to 5 p.m. Tandem Vintage, 316 W. 38th St., Minneapolis.

Market Collective MN Makers Market
Shop from BIPOC and queer vendors and allies. 1-5 p.m. Blackstack Brewing Co, 755 Prior Ave. N., St. Paul.

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

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.

Lake Chipotle


Lake Chipotle Polar Plunge

Now, a Facebook event like this one raises as many questions as it answers. Is it a fake meme-based event, like “dress up like a bird and run into the glass at US bank stadium”? Or is it a real meme-based event, like the candlelight vigil for the Lake Street Arby’s? Time will tell! All we know is that this Sunday, at 10 p.m., you’re invited to “gather around at closing time, strip to [y]our skivvies (or not- you do you), and purify [yourself] in the cleansing waters of Lake Chipotle.” That is, of course, so long as you don’t think the Lake Chipotle bit has already jumped the shark. Free. 10 p.m. Lake Chipotle, 2600 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis.—Em Cassel

Winter PupFest

Featuring puppies to cuddle and pet; a dog photoshoot, a pet market with local vendors, and chances to win beer hosted by Save-A-Bull. 2-5 p.m. Lakes & Legends, 1368 Lasalle Ave., Minneapolis.

Billy Johnson & George Mckelvey

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

Passing Strange Records: Sonic Brunch with KC McKee

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

Lulu & the Shoe

With Brienne and Willow Waters. 8-11 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. 

Stephanie Was

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

Free events this weekend at the Saint Paul Winter Carnival:

Legacy of the Loud

More ‘80s rock covers, this time with an emphasis on hair bands. 1-4 p.m. Rice Park 109 Fourth St. W., St. Paul.

Vocal Interpretations Finals

A lip-sync competition. 4:30 p.m. Rice Park 109 Fourth St. W., St. Paul.

The Saint Paul Civic Symphony: Hot and Cool Classics

2 p.m. Landmark Center, 75 Fifth St. W., St. Paul.

"Exploring Ecological Death Care" with Katrina Spade of Recompose

Free events happening at The Great Northern Festival

Combating Climate Change with Urban Forests: How Trees Can Save Our Cities

RSVP here. 11 a.m. American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Ave., Minneapolis.

The Climate Action Handbook: A Visual Guide to 100 Climate Solutions for Everyone

With Dr. Heidi Roop. Moderated by Sven Sundgaard. RSVP here. 12:30 p.m. American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Ave., Minneapolis.

Project Drawdown: A Cautious Case for Climate Optimism

A presentation by Jonathan Foley. RSVP here. 2 p.m. American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Ave., Minneapolis.

Exploring Ecological Death Care

With Katrina Spade of Recompose, moderated by Angela Woosley. RSVP here. 3:30 p.m. American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Ave., Minneapolis.

Climate Heroes in Your Neighborhood

Launch and celebration of Twin Cities solutions stories. RSVP here. 6:15 p.m. doors. Parkway Theater, 4814 Chicago Ave., Minneapolis.

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