Each winter can seem like an Ice Age across the northlands unless one determines, as the snow-belters have, that it is better to love it than leave it. In St. Paul and Quebec, and in dozens of cities like them, the longest season is livened by winter carnivals, festivals in which the courageous come out to play. That Stonehenge-like affair ringed by cars (above) is really frozen White Bear Lake where 10,000 Minnesotans are ice fishing for northern pike and carnival prizes. Warming to the occasion, they also race cars on the ice and, in Quebec, push, tug, paddle and wallow canoes right across the chunky St. Lawrence. There are parades to see, ice to sculpt, plus enough dogsled and snowshoe races to bring everybody out for fresh air and fun. And in each city the event doubles as a harbinger: if the carnival comes, can spring be far behind?
Winter carnival competitors move fast to keep warm—from the tobogganists at Quebec to the frustrated snowshoe racers at Michigan Tech to the kid sledders in St. Paul's family mutt races.
The blanket toss is St. Paul Athletic Club's bouncy contribution to the big show, while in Quebec motorcycle racers stage an annual icy showdown.
The biggest snow sculptures rise up at Michigan Tech and the coldest floats slide past in Quebec City's night parade—while in all cases spectators, like the two St. Paul youngsters at left, are suitably packaged for the occasion.