This winter, both St. Louis area First Night events (Grand Center and Riverbend) are canceled. The Grand Center event is hoping to return next year in a new location, but this year the city will be without its favorite outdoor winter arts celebration. But don’t worry! There are still opportunities for you to freeze your tukkus off and drink hot chocolate — or cold beer — outdoors in the STL this winter. Here are some ideas for you.
Loop Ice Carnival
Delmar Loop
6100-6600 Delmar Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63130

Date: Mid-January (TBA)

This year’s dates haven’t been announced, but the Ice Carnival typically takes place on a weekend in mid-January. The kick-off event is a Snow Ball, a sort of icey-white, city-wide prom where the Ice King and Queen will be crowned. The weekend is filled with activities, including the Frozen Buns Run, and a full-fledged carnival on Delmar featuring ice carvings, ice slides and other family-friendly fun. Sign up at the Loop’s website so you’ll be among the first to know when the 2016 plans are announced. Admission to the festival is free; Snow Ball tickets have sold for about $30 in the past.

Garden Glow
Missouri Botanical Garden
4344 Shaw Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63110
(314) 577-5100

Date: Wed – Sun evenings from 5:00 p.m. until 9:30 p.m., Nov. 21, 2015 through Jan. 2, 2016

The Garden Glow involves the installation of millions of lights throughout the property at Missouri Botanical Garden (lovingly known to the locals as Shaw’s Garden, or sometimes Mobot). Parts of the light display are definitely holiday-inspired, but this is more than a Christmas light display. It’s a nondenominational art show of light, and a celebration of both winter and nighttime that fills guests with wonder. Admission is $16 for adults, $12 for Garden members, and $10 for children.

Mardi Gras
Soulard Area
(314) 771-5110

Date: Jan. 6 – Feb. 9

Most St. Louisans associate Mardi Gras with beads, beer and cajun cuisine; that’s certainly part of it. But there’s more to Mardi Gras in St. Louis than drunken revelry. The month-long celebration kicks off with a Family Winter Carnival and one of the largest parades in the Midwest, and includes events like the Snowman Softball Tournament and the ever-popular Weiner Dog Derby. Near the end of the celebration comes the Mayor’s Mardi Gras Ball, and… well, almost everything in between is beads and beer and cajun cuisine.

Related: Visitor’s Guide To The St. Louis Art Museum

Cabin Fever
Schlafly Bottleworks
7260 Southwest Ave.
Maplewood, MO 63143
(314) 241-2337

Date: TBA (Usually a Saturday afternoon in mid-January)

Does being cooped up all winter give you Cabin Fever? Get the cure at Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood. Bundle up and tip back a few cold ones at this winter kegger, with cold beers, hot music and warm bodies gathered around warming fires. Schlafly brings out their strongest beers to warm your mid-winter spirits, but hat and gloves are recommended. Tickets will be available online (last year’s cost was $26) and Schlafly reserves the right to reschedule if a blizzard blows in.

Sledding At Art Hill
Outside the St. Louis Art Museum in Forest Park
One Fine Arts Drive
St. Louis, MO 63110

Date: First snowfall; any day schools are closed

Sledding at Art Hill is an impromptu grassroots festival, rather than a formally organized one. For most St. Louisans, though, it is the favorite event of the winter. When school closings start rolling across the morning news and you see meteorologists on TV bundled up in scarves and hats, just grab a sled, toboggan, or a snowboard and head to Forest Park (with children, if you have some). Sledding at Art Hill has been a proud St. Louis tradition since 1904, and the feeling of closeness and community that happens on that snowy slope bonds us together as much as our love for the Cardinals.

Related: 5 Of St. Louis’ Hidden Gems

Lauren Haas is a nomadic freelance writer who travels the world, using St. Louis as her base. Visit her blog at