The Great Northern aims to make winter in Minnesota cool

An exclusive outdoor dining experience with chefs Paul Berglund and Gavin Kaysen is among the events featured in The Great Northern festival.

Diners who have forked out $400 will sit down for dinner cooked by two acclaimed Twin Cities chefs on Monday, but they won't be in a restaurant.

They will be sitting out in the freezing winter surrounded by blazing fires, on a downtown Minneapolis street closed for the most exclusive event of the otherwise inclusive The Great Northern festival – celebrating everything that's so gosh darn great about Minnesota.

Under the guidance of a leadership team that includes former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, and North Loop entrepreneur Eric Dayton, The Great Northern stamps a new identity on the wintry festivities that take place in the Twin Cities every January and February.

Dayton told GoMN the longterm aim is to make the Twin Cities and Minnesota as much of a destination during the winter as it is during warmer seasons, turning the frigid cold into "an asset instead of a liability."

Traditional events like the historic St. Paul Winter Carnival, the U.S. Pond Hockey tournament, the Winter Beer Dabbler and The Loppet are being brought together. No longer standalone events, they now have a collective identity under the The Great Northern banner.

Joining the lineup are a number of new events for foodies and art lovers, including the aforementioned "Winter Table," an exclusive, $395-a-head, seven-course dinner prepared by The Bachelor Farmer's Paul Berglund and Spoon and Stable's Gavin Kaysen.

In what Dayton believes is a first in the city, a block of North 1st St. in the Warehouse District will be closed off to make way for tables, illuminations and bonfires as parka-donning diners brave the elements and chow down on what Dayton describes as a "primal style" of cooking.

Festival is wrapped in northern identity

Eric Dayton has been one of the driving forces behind the idea of rebranding Minnesota as "The North" of the U.S., arguing that its Nordic culture, rugged outdoors and frigid weather differentiate it from the rest of the Midwest.

"The Great Northern is the evolution of that idea," according to Dayton, who says that the events running during the festival are deeply rooted in Minnesotan tradition.

"This is what we have always done, these are our strengths and we're shining a light on what makes Minnesota incredible, special and unique," he told GoMN.

The Great Northern "embodies some of the very qualities," he says, pointing to the Minnesotan way of life spending time in the great outdoors, no matter the time of year, not to mention the Twin Cities increasingly acclaimed dining scene and strong artistic community.

"These are the things we're bringing together and it's a really unique combination at this time of year," he says.

"When you ask someone about Minnesota the first thing they'll think of is the cold winters – let's turn that into an asset rather than a liability."

What's happening

Things really kick off on Thursday, when the St. Paul Winter Carnival gets underway at Rice Park and the U.S. Pond Hockey Tournament starts at Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis.

The Twin Cities Jazz Festival will be held at various locations in St. Paul this weekend, and more information can be found here.

On Sunday, Minneapolis French bistro Barbette will host art installations presented by Northern, which will see light-based art projected onto custom ice walls starting at 4:30 p.m. at the Uptown eatery.

The Winter Table on Monday is one of three "signature dinners" during The Great Northern taking place next week.

On Tuesday, the "Lowertown Feast" at St. Paul Farmer's Market will have chefs from Corner Table/Revival and Saint Dinette serving flame-cooked, French-Canadian-inspired food.

And on Wednesday, the Surly Brewer's Table and Heirloom have put together a "Kraftskivan" crayfish party at the Surly Beer Garden in northeast Minneapolis, which includes the "debut of the nation's first community-owned mobile sauna."

Other events planned for next week include a Frozen Film Festival, before The Loppet and the Winter Beer Dabbler take over next weekend.

You can find a full list of The Great Northern events here.

Next Up


Minneapolis police seeks public help finding missing woman

A 63-year-old woman has been missing since Tuesday

coronavirus testing

Don't want to talk to a contact tracer? MN debuts online option after positive test

The department says the survey will allow its staff to keep track of more cases at a faster pace

Family Dollar

Money Gal Coaching: 12 things you are wasting your money on

Kelly Blodgett started Money Gal Coaching after paying down nearly $50K in debt in 18 months.

police lights

Three teens charged in Minneapolis robberies

The incidents took place on Saturday in Minneapolis.

covid-19, coronavirus, ppe

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Thursday, January 21

It's the first time in exactly four months that Minnesota has had fewer than 100 COVID patients in intensive care.

icy roads, bad roads

Girl, 16, killed in crash with semi on icy Minnesota road

The crash happened in Dodge County around 8 a.m. Wednesday.

police lights

Road rage incident sees driver punch out man's window, punch him in face

The incident happened in Waite Park Wednesday morning.

Screen Shot 2019-10-11 at 7.01.24 AM

Minneapolis will recover $100K in costs connected to 2019 Trump rally

The Target Center operator said it'll pay the costs over three years.

Jacob Frey

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey confirms run for reelection

He has faced criticism over the city's response to George Floyd's death.

Kirk Cousins

Coller: How far away are the Vikings from playing championship weekend?

Matthew Coller writes a weekly Vikings column for BMTN, with more of his work found at Purple Insider.


The Great Northern aims to make winter in Minnesota cool

An exclusive outdoor dining experience with chefs Paul Berglund and Gavin Kaysen is among the events featured in The Great Northern festival.

This is what $395-a-head street food looks like in Minneapolis

A Minneapolis street closed for a seven-course, outdoor banquet on Monday.

The LGBTQ capital of Minnesota is ready for its Pride celebrations

The Golden Valley Pride Festival will be held on Sunday.

There'll be music on ice at the Winter Carnival this year

A nightly music lineup on a stage of ice is part of the 2017 St. Paul Winter Carnival

There'll be music on ice at the Winter Carnival this year

A nightly music lineup on a stage of ice is part of the 2017 St. Paul Winter Carnival

The Loppet Ski Festival is still on this weekend, but with some changes

Warm weather has affected this weekend, but the festival is happening.

Screen Shot 2020-02-26 at 9.49.11 AM

4 Minnesota chefs, 1 restaurant named James Beard Award finalists

Gavin Kaysen's Demi is in the running for Best New Restaurant.