Beyond a game, the Super Bowl offers fans a 10-day festival


Football fans and the merely curious will watch the Sunday, Feb. 4 Super Bowl from Minneapolis, but most will have no idea that the game is only the best known part of a 10-day festival.

Using the theme "Bold North," tourism officials and the National Football League have put together a collection of activities that range from celebrating all things winter to meeting NFL players.

Many of the 30-plus events were designed for the Super Bowl, but ones like St. Paul's Winter Carnival were modified to fit with the Super Bowl's schedule.

Some highlights follow. Check websites for specific hours, how to get tickets and latest schedules.

Super Bowl Live

The free 10-day event will be on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis, starting Friday, Jan. 26.

The six-block event will include music, food, photo opportunities, ice sculptures and a chance to see Super Bowl broadcasters, among activities. Each day will have different entertainment, but many Minnesotans will be interested in Monday, Jan. 29, which will feature Prince related music by the Revolution, Sheila E. and Morris Day and the Time.

'Sota Pop, next to Nicollet Mall, is an "interactive pop-up experience" designed to show off Minnesota to tourists. It is operated by the state's tourism agency, Explore Minnesota. A restaurant that looks like an airliner will serve up burgers. ESPN, NBC, CNN and the NFL Network will broadcast from the mall.

Super Bowl Experience

Professional football's theme park at the Minneapolis Convention Center will include interactive games, youth football clinics, player autographs and a chance to buy NFL merchandise.

Among exhibits will be 130 artifacts from the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Eight bronze busts will be displayed: Bud Grant, Alan Page, Cris Carter, Brett Favre, Vince Lombardi, Curly Lambeau, Bart Starr and Reggie White. Tickets are $35 for adults and $25 for children and provide admission for a certain day and time. The event is open Jan. 27 to Feb. 3, except for Jan. 30.

'From Slavery to Today'

Alan Page, pro football hall of famer and retired Minnesota Supreme Court justice, and his wife Diane Sims Page will present "Testify: Americana from Slavery to Today." The exhibit features art and artifacts from pivotal eras in American history.

Running through Feb. 6, the exhibit already is in place at Hennepin County Library, 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis.

Gospel celebration

The 19th annual Super Bowl Gospel Celebration will be Thursday, Feb. 1, at 7:30 p.m., at the Benson Great Hall at Bethel University.

The annual event includes NFL players and gospel, contemporary Christian and mainstream artists. The performances will be replayed on BET Network on Saturday, Feb. 3.

Man of the Year

Three finalists for the NFL's biggest award, Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, will participate in a forum on Friday, Feb. 2, at 10:30 a.m.

With them will be NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at the Cyrus Northrop Memorial Auditorium at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. The winner will be announced the next night at the NFL Honors program, to air on NBC at 8 p.m. The Honors show also will introduce the 2018 Hall of Fame class — former Viking Randy Moss is a finalist — and several annual awards.

Taste of the NFL

Food and football combine at a Saturday, Feb. 3, fundraiser in St. Paul.

The Taste of the NFL charity raises money to fight hunger in the football league's 32 cities. It plans the Party with a Purpose at the Saint Paul RiverCenter at 7 p.m. with a musical performance at 9 p.m.


On Saturday, Feb. 3, the luminary loppet will be at Minneapolis' Lake of the Isles.

People will walk, snowshoe and ski along candlelit trails, with hot cocoa available along the way, to see artwork from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Adults will be able to attend a party afterwards.

It will follow the loppet, a Saturday, Jan. 27, cross-country ski festival for the family. Ski races for all ages, skill-levels and abilities will be available.

Loppet Village is located next to the Lake Calhoun Center, 3033 Excelsior Blvd, Minneapolis.

Pond hockey

The 13th annual U.S. Pond Hockey Championships will be on Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis Jan. 25-28.

Ice maze

The Minneapolis Institute of Art opens an ice maze Thursday, Feb. 1, at 5 p.m.

It will be free and open during museum hours through Super Bowl Sunday.

Farm Bowl

Land O' Lakes will bring farmers and football players together to compete in farming activities.

From 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 1, they will compete at 3M Arena at Mariucci, 1901 Fourth St. Southeast, Minneapolis. It is free.

Winter carnival

The St. Paul event, around since 1886, has been extended to give Super Bowl visitors a chance to attend.

The feature this year will be an ice palace in Rice Park in downtown St. Paul. Other events for the carnival, running Thursday, Jan. 25, until Saturday, Feb. 10, include ice and snow sculpting, a flower show and parade.

Opening night

Super Bowl players will answer media questions in front of an audience at St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center and on the NFL Network.

Philadelphia and New England players will interact with each other on stage in front of fans. Super Bowl Opening Night also will feature appearances and autographs by Minnesota Vikings legends, cheerleaders and team mascots, as well as fan photo opportunities.

The event begins at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 29.

Olympic WinterFest

Four Winter Olympians will be at Landmark Plaza, St. Paul, from noon to 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 3, for a free event.

Several displays also will be available.