Top Events and Festivals in Minnesota
Explore this selection of the top annual events and festivals, fairs and celebrations (listed in calendar priority) in Minnesota.
Please note: Top Events USA does not include every single event on offer in Minnesota – only those recognized as the best by residents of Minnesota, visitors to the "North Star State", the team of travel writers working for Top Events USA and officials of Minnesota too.
Minnesota is known as “Land of 10,000 Lakes” on its license plates, even though the state has 12,000 lakes – but the name used as the state nickname is actually “North Star State”.
Saint Paul Winter Carnival
late January – early February
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Long known as the nation’s oldest winter festival, since 1886 the Saint Paul Winter Carnival provides indoor and outdoor fun, while reliving the ancient legend of springtime’s triumph over winter. The celebration includes 75 events including parades, ice and snow carving competitions, ice skating, golf on ice and singing contests. The Saint Paul Winter Carnival has also been distinguished by the “IFEA World Festival & Event City” award, a popular and distinguished award, in existence for over 56 years, that is awarded to cities and their events that have made a significant contribution to the Festivals and Events Industry and a profound difference in the communities they serve.
For more information about the Saint Paul Winter Carnival see:
or visit: http://www.winter-carnival.com
Grumpy Old Men Festival
A fun event in which visitors celebrate winter with that grumpy old man’s hobby of ice fishing, in the town that inspired the movie of the same name. Other activities include an ice shack contest, Frisbee games, golf tournaments on snow, bird watching and a spaghetti dinner and dance. You may not run into Walter Matthau or Jack Lemmon, but this quaint Mississippi River town knows how to celebrate.
For more information about the Grumpy Old Men Festival in Wabasha visit:
Festival of Nations
Minneapolis–Saint Paul, Minnesota
Named one of the top 100 events in the USA by the American Bus Association, and labeled as one of the top 200 events in America by Discover America, the 4-day Festival of Nations that celebrates the culture of countless different nations has become the largest multi-cultural event in Minnesota in which people of all backgrounds share their way of life, traditions and customs with music performances, food stalls, dance shows and arts.
For more information about the Festival of Nations visit:
MayDay Parade & Festival
Minneapolis–Saint Paul, Minnesota
Actually a two-part event attracting thousands of people celebrating the arrival of spring that has been popular for over 38 years, the annual MayDay Parade complete with dancing and bands is followed by the actual festival itself that features more music and dancing, as well as everything from poetry to canoe rides to foods of all types.
For more information about the MayDay Parade and Festival visit:
Grand Old Day
1st Sunday in June
Minneapolis–Saint Paul, Minnesota
The first event of the summer, and the largest 1-day festival in the Midwest USA, Grand Old Day is recognized as one of the best Minnesota festivals for people of all ages and interests. The festival features four distinct areas of fun along Grand Avenue – the Family Fun Activities District, the Art District, the Sporting District, and the Entertainment District as well as events such as the Grand Old Day Parade that passes through all the areas.
For more information about Grand Old Day visit:
Grand Celebration Powwow
This Indian event is the largest Pow Wow in the Midwest with over 1,200 dancers, drummers and singers from nearly every tribe in the USA and Canada participating – Native Americans from all around the country coming together to compete and honor their traditions and heritage. In addition to the dancing, visitors learn American Indian traditions, eat Indian food and can purchase Indian crafts.
For more information about the Grand Celebration Powwow in Hinckley visit: http://www.millelacsojibwe.org
Scandinavian Hjemkomst Festival
mid - late June
An authentic Scandinavian event featuring dancing, entertainment, booths and food celebrating the heritage of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Now having taken place for over 34 years, the Scandinavian Hjemkomst Festival and the Annual Midwest Viking Festivals take place at the Heritage Hjemkomst Center, home of the Viking ship which sailed from Minnesota to Norway in 1982.
For more information about the Scandinavian Hjemkomst Festival in Moorhead visit: http://www.nordiccultureclubs.org
The Aquatennial is the official civic celebration of the City of Minneapolis, a ten-day festival held annually in July. Entering its 70th year, Minneapolis residents, workers, and tourists love and appreciate the fun and entertainment, the beach parties, the sandcastle contests, water ski shows, milk carton boat races, classic car shows, the sports tournaments, the fireworks show along the Mississippi River and the neighborhood block parties. The Minneapolis Aquatennial has also been distinguished by the “IFEA World Festival & Event City” award, a popular and distinguished award, in existence for over 56 years, that has been awarded to cities and their events that have made a significant contribution to the Festivals and Events Industry and a profound difference in the communities they serve.
For more information about the Minneapolis Aquatennial in Minneapolis visit:
Saint Paul, Minnesota
With the goal of promoting various forms of Asian-Pacific artistic, educational, and athletic activities through cultural performances, martial arts, the healing arts, and outdoor/indoor Asian games, the ever popular Dragon Festival at Lake Phalen Park in Saint Paul offers two days of colorful, traditional dances and music showcasing Asian performance arts at their best. Highlights of the event include the performances of the Chinese flute to the energetic Taiko drumming and all sorts of Asian music as well as the Dragon Boat race with more than 30 boat teams.
For more information about the Dragon Festival in Saint Paul visit:
The Sommerfest Minneapolis music festival is offered by the Minnesota Orchestra, conducted by Osmo Vanska. Sommerfest concerts are held over a four-week period in midsummer at Orchestra Hall with concerts ranging from light to classical. Outside the Hall, Peavey Plaza becomes a Marktplatz offering food stands and music. The orchestra performs free live music on the plaza before and after each show, ranging from folk to jazz to polka band.
For more information about Sommerfest Minneapolis visit:
Bayfront Blues Festival
early – mid August
Bayfront Festival Park – Duluth, Minnesota
One of the largest annual outdoor music festivals in the Midwest , the Bayfront Blues Festival showcases nearly 30 national performances on two concert stages attracting more than 20,000 fans who have enjoyed the music of over 500 major artists over the years. Additional weekend events include a Moonlight Mardi Gras Cruise and live Blues at nearly 20 Duluth nightclubs. The event takes place in Canal Park on Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world.
For more information about the Bayfront Blues Festival in Duluth visit: http://www.bayfrontblues.com
Irish Fair Minnesota
Harriet Island, Saint Paul, Minnesota
On the banks of the Mississippi River, this 3-day celebration of Irish heritage comes complete with music, dance, family activities and good craic. Since 2001, beautiful Harriet Island Regional Park in downtown St. Paul has hosted the Irish Fair. The festival is recognized as one of the most family-friendly events in the Twin Cities, one of the most authentic Irish festivals nationwide and a great party-time for some 100,000 attendees.
For more information about Irish Fair Minnesota on Harriet Island visit :
Minnesota State Fair
mid August – early September
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Known as "The Great Minnesota Get-Together”, the Minnesota State Fair is one of the largest and best attended expositions in the world, attracting nearly 1.8 million visitors every year, and is also the 2nd largest state fair in the USA second only to the State Fair of Texas. Showcasing Minnesota’s finest agriculture, art and industry, the Great Minnesota Get-Together is always “Twelve Days of Fun Ending Labor Day”.
For more information about the Minnesota State Fair visit: http://www.mnstatefair.org
Minnesota Renaissance Festival
weekends mid August – end September
Celebrating its 43rd year, the Minnesota Renaissance Festival is now the oldest and largest Renaissance Festival in the United States attracting more than 280,000 people each year. Featuring all sorts of medieval fun including jousting and knights, the Minnesota Renaissance Festival is an interactive outdoor event recreating the look and feel of a fictional 16th Century "England-like" fantasy kingdom complete with more than 800 unique entertainments, hundreds of medieval crafters and food booths.
For more information about the Minnesota Renaissance Festival visit: http://www.renaissancefest.com
Barnesville Potato Days
Regarded as one of the best summer festivals in the USA attracting over 20,000 potato lovers each year, the Barnesvile Potato Days event features two days of fun and unusual potato activities such as mashed potato wrestling, potato sacking and sculpting, the ever popular Miss Tator Tot Pageant and the chance to taste tempting potato specialities.
For more information about Barnesville Potato Days visit:
New Ulm Oktoberfest
New Ulm, Minnesota
Set in the town of New Ulm originally founded by German immigrants, the Oktoberfest there is now recognized as one of the best of the smaller Oktoberfests in the USA. A popular event for over thirty years, the New Ulm Oktoberfest presents two stages of German themed music and entertainment, the ever popular German-American Parade, a host of entertainment at several bars and taverns, craft shows and even a famous and popular glockenspiel with characters emerging every few hours.
For more information about the New Ulm Oktoberfest visit:
Voted one of the Top 100 Events in North America by the American Bus Association for 2011, the Big Island Rendezvous and Festival has been a popular attraction for more than 26 years. It showcases the fur trade period in the Voyageur encampment along with early American crafts such as woodworking, blacksmiths, candle making and a host of activities of the time from the making of period wares to the tastes of authentic cuisine of those days.
For more information about the Big Island Rendezvous and Festival in Albert Lea visit:
Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon
Twin Cities, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Nicknamed the "Most Beautiful Urban Marathon in America", the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon attracts 300,000 fans and spectators in 10 cheering zones, lots of entertainment offered en-route and also a wide variety of events and activities, including a pasta party, the Health & Fitness Expo, the 27th Mile event that offers post-race food and refreshments to participants and spectators, and the hugely popular Pasta Party Dinner.
For more information about the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon visit:
late November – late December
The annual Holidazzle Parade shows over a million brilliant lights as visitors watch their favorite storybook characters come to life. Lighted floats, musical groups and costumed characters, and of course, Santa in his sleigh, all light up the parade down the Nicollet Mall at 6:30pm, even as the winter weather descends upon Minneapolis. The parade is free to watch, and runs Thursday through Sunday during the holiday season from late November to late December.
For more information about the Holidazzle Parades visit: http://www.holidazzle.com
Folkways of the Holidays
Visitors step back in time when they visit The Landing-Minnesota River Heritage Park, part of the Three Rivers Park District, on December weekends, when they experience the magic and joy of 19th century Christmas and Hanukah celebrations. The journey begins with a horse-drawn trolley ride. Guests can tour holiday home settings, enjoy lively musical performances, and interact with costumed interpreters portraying settlers.
For more information about Folkways of the Holidays in Shakopee visit: