Thursday, February 28, 2013

Winter Carnival and Ice Castles in Minnesota

It was a cold bright winter day. But it was sunny, and it was time to celebrate winter, at least for the day. A few friends and I visited the Winter Carnival in Saint Paul, Minn. Bundled up in warm winter coats, sweatshirts, jeans, hats, scarfs and mittens, we were ready to explore the Winter Carnival.

                                                   The Coolest Celebration on Earth

                                                    Ready for the Winter Carnival!

We arrived in Rice Park, a park in Saint Paul surrounded by stately buildings such as the Landmark Center, the James J. Hill Library, the St. Paul Hotel and the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts.

                                          The Landmark Center, Saint Paul, Minn.

A few ponies stepped along in one clearing, giving rides to children nearby. My petite friend and I considered paying for a pony ride, because the ponies were so cute – but maybe another time!

Nearby, people skated around an ice rink and enjoyed the cold winter sunshine.

                                                          Ice rink, Saint Paul, Minn.

In Rice Park, we passed some vendors giving samples of wine and coffee, and a food stand selling hot dogs and hot chocolate. An ice bar nearby sold a variety of alcoholic drinks. On a stage nearby, a band played for the crowd. Lots of people wandered around the park, everyone wearing warm hats, coats and gloves.

As we walked around the park, we admired the variety of ice sculptures—all detailed, intricate ice sculptures of animals, trees, local buildings, and more.

One of the ice sculptures, which looked like the State Capital


More ice sculptures in Rice Park

                                                     The Cathedral of Saint Paul from afar

I passed another corn dog stand, and decided that was just what I wanted to eat. A corn dog just was the perfect thing to eat on a cold day like that!

We got cold before long, and ducked into the Landmark Center. It’s quite an impressive building, with beautiful architecture. It used to be a courthouse and a post office, but now it’s a public building where many events are held.

                                                          The Landmark Center

Later we visited the Ice Castles at the Mall of America. It started to snow and the flakes fell softly all around us. The ice walls were lit with bright colored lights, and narrow passages wound around the ice castles. We found ice benches to sit on, little nooks in walls to peek into, and interesting descriptions about how the ice castles were made.

                                            Hanging out on an ice bench in the castle

Ice Castles, Mall of America

                                             It was cold, but fun!

Walking through a passage in the ice castles

Ice Castles

By this time, we were quite cold, so we stopped to warm our hands over a little fire outside the ice castles. Then we made our way into the Mall of America to warm up and have dinner and chat about the day. A great end to a fun winter day.

                                           A fire we stopped to warm up at on our way out

                                                    Outside the ice castles

*Thanks to Karlys Koens for the use of a few of her photos.