A long-standing seasonal celebration kicks off this weekend in the Twin Cities.  The 132nd annual Saint Paul Winter Carnival runs January 25-Februrary 10 - 17 days of "The Coolest Celebration on Earth". This years event sees an additional seven days added to the schedule of events and plenty of new things to see and do.

New this year - the Ecolab Ice Palace in Rice Park - a 70-foot high structure built entirely with more than 4,000 blocks of ice and weighing more than 2-million pounds.  One of the spotlights will be the "Flip The Switch" lighting ceremony happening each night at 5:30 PM.

Another new entry to the Winter Carnival is "The Not Your Father's Winter Carnival Music Series" which will also happen in Rice Park, focusing on different performers each night.  Scheduled artists span the spectrum from funky disco to country, jazz to kids sing-alongs.

Most of the events will take place in downtown Saint Paul in and around Rice Park and Landmark Center; some additional events will also occur at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.  A good majority of the scheduled programs are absolutely free to the general public.  For more details, visit the Saint Paul Winter Carnivals website.