The Great Northern Celebrates Winter in the North with 10 Days of Events and Programming
(Friday, January 27 – Sunday, February 5, 2017)

December 1, 2016

Kara Carmichael
e: kara.carmichael@thegreatnorthernfestival.com


MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Event leaders from the City of Lakes Loppet Ski Festival, the 130-year-old Saint Paul Winter Carnival, and the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships today announced The Great Northern, a collaborative winter festival. Led by Eric Dayton of Askov Finlayson and in partnership with Northern Spark and Andrew Zimmern’s Food Works Inc., the organizers have joined forces to celebrate winter together. The three foundational organizations represent a combined 152 years of history and tradition. This exciting partnership will further enhance Minnesota’s reputation as a national destination for winter activity at its best. Sponsored by Target, The Great Northern will run Friday, January 27 – Sunday, February 5, 2017 and will showcase signature events alongside new winter programming across Minneapolis and Saint Paul.

“We are Minnesotans and this is the North. Winter is not a season we should hide from or apologize for,” said Eric Dayton, founder of Askov Finlayson. “The Great Northern is a festival co-created by the leaders of our premier winter events and brought to life by Target, one of our most beloved hometown companies. Together we aim to bring a new, annual tradition to Minnesota that promotes year-round outdoor activity and provides fun and inclusive programming for locals and visitors of all ages. Winter is a defining element of our state, and it’s time we reposition it from a liability to one of our greatest assets.”

New festival programming will include an outdoor public art display in downtown Minneapolis supported by The Minneapolis Foundation in partnership with Northern Spark. This generous contribution was announced today as a keystone to building vibrant and accessible arts programming for The Great Northern in its first year.

The Great Northern is a nod to Minnesota’s history and its Great Northern Railway, which was built by local entrepreneur James J. Hill and connected Minneapolis and Saint Paul with the West Coast. The festival name also recognizes Minnesota’s distinct Northern geographic position in the U.S.

“We are thrilled to announce The Great Northern today, and the inspiration behind its name couldn’t be more fitting,” Dayton added. “The historic Great Northern Railway transported visitors from around the country to our state, so it is only appropriate that we share in its name as we work to attract visitors nationwide to the festival in years to come.”

“Whether it’s outdoor hockey or the Saint Paul Winter Carnival, the capital city – like the rest of Minnesota – embraces winter,” said Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. “There is no such thing as too cold. We take on winter like we take on the course at Red Bull Crashed Ice – boldly, daringly and, always, with an eye toward fun.”

“In Minneapolis, we don’t apologize for winter — we embrace it,” said Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges. “The Great Northern is a bold step forward in showcasing the great events and endless possibilities that both Minneapolis and Saint Paul have to offer our residents and visitors in winter, and a great way to define ourselves to the world as vibrant, year-round cities where we let nothing hold us back.”

The Great Northern will celebrate Minnesota’s winter season with a wide-range of programming, with the opportunity to layer on additional elements in the years to come. By leveraging existing events to start, the festival is anticipated to draw more than 350,000 attendees in its first year. 

In 2018, The Great Northern’s dates will align with Minnesota’s Super Bowl LII, providing thousands of national and international visitors and press with an exciting and authentic impression of Minnesota at its wintry best leading up to the game. “We’re thrilled to work with The Great Northern as it’s exactly the kind of experience that we want to deliver to our Super Bowl guests,” said Maureen Bausch, CEO of Minnesota’s Super Bowl Host Committee. “Our message to a global audience will be representing Minnesota as the Bold North, so the fit couldn’t be better.”

The Great Northern is sponsored by Target. Its leadership team and partnering organizations include:

Rosanne Bump – President and CEO, Saint Paul Winter Carnival
Eric Dayton – Principal, North Corp
Steve Dietz – Founder and President, Northern Spark
Carson Kipfer – Co-Commissioner, U.S. Pond Hockey Championships
John Munger – Executive Director, The Loppet Foundation
Andrew Zimmern – Founder, Food Works, Inc.

Festival organizers are working with Minneapolis agency Carmichael Lynch to give The Great Northern a strong visual identity deserving of its name. For more information about The Great Northern and its partnering organizations, visit TheGreatNorthernFestival.com and connect with The Great Northern on Facebook and Twitter @GreatNorthern.

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