Best Bets: Ely Winter Festival, learn to curl with an Olympian, and more

Find something to do this week in the Northland.

Outdoor view of snowy scene with small crowd. Various snow sculptures are visible, and a man at center is taking a photo of one.
A Snow Sculpting Symposium is part of the Ely Winter Festival.
Contributed / Ely Winter Festival

DULUTH — This week, winter celebrations continue and local stages light up. Here are six events to add to your calendar.

Ely Winter Festival

What do Justin Bieber, Harry Styles and the Ely Winter Festival have in common? They were all born in 1994. That makes this year's Ely event the 30th annual celebration of the snowy season, and the city's going all out. We're talking kick-sledding; we're talking the Snow Sculpture Symposium; we're talking the Ely Art Walk. Singer-songwriter Courtney Yasmineh will play live, and toward the later end of its 10 days, the festival will overlap with Ely's inaugural End of the Road Film Festival. When you're ready to escape the hullabaloo (such as it is), you can take a snowshoe tour of Sigurd Olson’s Listening Point. For information about the festival, which kicks off Thursday, see

Top Gun: Maverick

Side view of a fighter jet cockpit, with the canopy open as the jet sits parked. A light-skinned woman suited for flight sits in cockpit as light-skinned man in khakis and warm jacket sits on the edge to show her something.
Monica Barbaro and Tom Cruise on the set of "Top Gun: Maverick."
Contributed / Scott Garfield for Paramount Pictures

Maybe the presence of the 148th has something do to with it, but Duluth is very into Tom Cruise's return to the cockpit. At St. Luke's, "Maverick" was tied for the most popular baby boys' name of 2022. As of this writing, "Top Gun: Maverick" has the second-most votes among potential summer movies in Leif Erikson Park (only "School of Rock" has more support). On top of that, the sequel to the 1986 original is kicking off a new free movie series at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. Locally Laid Egg Co. is sponsoring the Thursday night screening. Does that make them Goose eggs? For information, see

Tom Cruise's impulsive pilot returns to the danger zone in a new sequel that completely understands its mission.

Learn to curl with an Olympian

View of outdoor curling rink at night. In the background, a building painted WILD STATE CIDER is visible. Festoon lighting hangs over the rink.
Players crowd the curling rink at Wild State Cider on Jan. 23.
Jay Gabler / Duluth News Tribune

On Thursday, Fuse Duluth is bringing Olympic gold medalist Tyler George to Wild State Cider. George will demonstrate the sport known as "chess on ice" and hang around to chat at a happy-hour team-building event. It's curling tradition for the winning team to buy drinks for the losers. What do you do when everybody wins? Find out from 4:30-6:30 p.m. This is a ticketed event with advance registration (and appetizers). See for details.


'Tartuffe' at St. Scholastica

Exterior view of a Tudor-style building with high windows and a hipped roof, seen in a snowy landscape with sun shining through trees.
The St. Scholastica Theatre, seen Jan. 26, will be the site of a new production of Moliere's "Tartuffe."
Jay Gabler / Duluth News Tribune

Playwright Moliere's alternate title for "Tartuffe" (1664) was "The Imposter." The story centers on a fraud who dupes the dad in an appalled family where most of the other members see through the man's scams. It's a classic of the stage, and CSS Theatre will have plenty to chew on when they mount a production under the direction of Liz Gray-Larson. For tickets and information, see

Playhouse does 'Glass Menagerie'

A young light-skinned man and a young light-skinned woman, both smiling lightly, look closely at a small figure of a unicorn in the glow of a candelabra.
Chris Ibarra and Kayla Schiltgen star in a new production of "The Glass Menagerie."
Contributed / Duluth Playhouse

"The Glass Menagerie" (1944) is the play that made the name of Tennessee Williams, who would go on to write "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1947) and "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (1955). It's the poignant story of a small family inspired by the playwright's own, including a vulnerable young woman who treasures her collection of glass figurines. Anika Thompson is directing a Duluth Playhouse production that opens Friday at the NorShor Theatre. "Grounded in memory, our production explores the nature of memories — how they are formed and how they shift upon retelling," said Thompson in a statement. For tickets and information, see

'Twelfth Night' at UMD

Young brown-skinned woman dressed in a man's checkered suit sits next to young light-skinned man dressed in floral blazer; the two lock eyes.
Hope Davis and Zac Pollitt star in UMD Theatre's new production of "Twelfth Night."
Contributed / UMD College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

'Tis the season for Shakespeare; specifically, the 1602 play written for the end of the Christmas season. A warm romantic comedy, the play posits a love triangle involving a young woman disguised as a man. A new University of Minnesota Duluth production is set in the swinging '60s and features a live band playing music of the era to set the scene. According to a news release, "the play’s classic theme of androgyny will be heightened by a troupe of recurring clowns, some deploying elements of drag." The show opens Tuesday, Jan. 31. For tickets and information, see

Jess Morgan has written a love letter to Duluth through a collection of poetry set to be released March 30.
Find something to do this week in the Northland.
The boy born in Duluth as Bobby Zimmerman will be celebrated with nine days of concerts and conferences in May. An organizer says next year's event will likely be more concise.
The Show Study class, led by director of education Courtney Laine Self, invited adult learners to follow the development of "Into the Woods."
Members Only
Fifty years ago Sunday, Duluth broke ground for the construction of a permanent train museum at the former Union Depot.
The theme for Finland's festivities is "St. Urho 23 and Me." Floats in the parade Saturday will incorporate the theme.
"Twin Portals" is Duluth's D&D live-play podcast. The group of improv folks, actors and a musician get together monthly to play and record their characters' adventures.
Twista will join the pop hip-hop hitmaker known for singles including "Low," "Right Round" and "Whistle."
“For anyone who is into local food and music and art and culture, it’s a fun way to dig a little deeper,” said Jason Wussow, of Wussow's Concert Cafe.
Find the right Northland celebration for you.

Arts and entertainment reporter Jay Gabler joined the Duluth News Tribune in 2022. His previous experience includes eight years as a digital producer at The Current (Minnesota Public Radio), four years as theater critic at Minneapolis alt-weekly City Pages, and six years as arts editor at the Twin Cities Daily Planet. He's a co-founder of pop culture and creative writing blog The Tangential; he's also a member of the National Book Critics Circle and the Minnesota Film Critics Alliance. You can reach him at or 218-279-5536.
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