Art Shanty Projects Bring Interactive Installations to Lake Harriet

The Art Shanty Projects, the Twin Cities-based winter art festival, are returning to Lake Harriet (Bde Uman), for a four-weekend art extravaganza. Based around the idea of creating an ice-fishing village unlike any other, local artists create new installations that form a mini, interactive art community in the snow. The free Minneapolis festival welcomes over 27,000 visitors every year and from Jan. 12–Feb. 21 this winter, Art Shanty will be turning the lake’s barren, frozen landscape into an arts-filled playground, celebrating Minnesota’s winter weather with a blast of color and imagination. 

Since 2004, Art Shanty has created their own version of a winter wonderland – one that honors the cold and sparks winter-time imagination for all visitors. With no building codes or restrictions, the festival’s final pieces range anywhere from traditional building huts and ice-houses to igloos and giant-sized birdhouses. The festival brings in creators from all over the midwest, and its entertainment goes far beyond its array of buildings covering the ice. Performers in costumes dance around the visitors of the festival, live music fills the air, and community-engaging activities offer an opportunity to tune into the true midwestern winter experience.  

“While every shanty is open during all public hours, we also feature a rotating lineup of artists doing a variety of time-based, activist, interactive, wacky, sweet, experimental, climate-conscious, DIY, totally shantastic activities throughout the in-between spaces,” Erin Lavelle, the artistic director of the festival, said in a press release.

This year’s lineup includes 18 shanties—what the festival calls its art installations—crafted from over 150 local and regional artists, alongside 20 rotating performance groups taking the stage over the four-week festival. 

Art Shanty’s entertainment spans from contemporary skating shows on the festival’s new ice skating rink and weekly yoga-in-your-snowsuits to Techno In The Sun, the festival’s new solar-powered, interactive, electronic music project and weekly sing-alongs with Good Trouble and Sabrina Partridge. Puppet shows, plein air painting, and theatrical performances fill this year’s activity guide, with climate change and climate action sticking as one of the festival’s main themes. Many of this year’s exhibitions and activities are solar-powered, and several of the community activities will be environmentally focused, from writing a love-letter to a park to riding on bicycles decorated like butterflies.

Art Shanty’s free admittance comes from the festival’s predominantly volunteer-run and donation-based profits. There is a $10-20 suggested donation at the gate of the festival this year, with the entirety of the profits ensuring a viable future for Art Shanty.

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