For the folks at the Loppet Foundation, embracing Minnesota's frigid temperatures has always been cool.
This year, the organization is doubling down on its celebration of winter as a founding partner of The Great Northern – a new collaboration that mashes several of the Twin Cities' signature wintry events into one big Minnesota-loving festival, with the goal of promoting the state's frigid cold as an asset instead of a liability.
And one of the Loppet's most popular events, the Luminary Loppet, promises to be bigger and better than ever in 2018.
That's because the event, which features candlelit trails and an array of ice sculptures on Lake of the Isles, falls on Feb. 3 – the day before the Super Bowl. Organizers are expecting a record crowd of 10,000 spectators.
And thanks to a Minnesota State Arts Board grant, the foundation said the Luminary Loppet will be "more luminous than ever."
New additions to the display include an ice forest with 100 7-foot-tall ice spires, a collection of musical instruments carved entirely out of ice, and six "larger-than-life" penguin puppets.
“These new features will add a whole new element of surprise and discovery to the event, and allow us to showcase local artists in a totally unique setting," John Munger, Executive Director of the Loppet Foundation said in a news release.
The event will also feature large-scale ice installations with names like the Enchanted Forest, Ice-Henge, the Luminary Pyramid, and the ICEster Island Heads.
Visitors can ski, snowshoe or walk along the groomed trails on the lake. Traditionally there's also live music, performances, and hot cocoa and beer for participants. Registration is required – it's $23 for adults if you sign up before Jan. 4. More info here.
The Loppet Foundation
Since its founding by a small group of skiers in 2002, the Loppet Foundation has brought Minnesotans together around a shared passion for the outdoors.
What started as a single ski race on Minneapolis' Chain of Lakes has grown into a full-blown winter festival featuring activities for all ages, including cross-country ski events, snow sculpture contests, dog sledding, snowshoeing, and even winter bike races.
Hopefully it'll stay cold enough for the festival this season. Last year, warmer than expected temperatures forced the Loppet to scrap several events.