The snow sculpture competition event of the St. Paul Winter Carnival took place from Friday Sunday, with the finished sculptures on display at the State Fairgrounds in Falcon Heights, Mn. Sunday afternoon, January 27, 2008. In the foreground is a giant squirrel gathering acorns, built by Matt Bliss, Steve Robinson and Clare McDonough, and to the right is a robot, built by Jon Baller, Joseph Hauwiller Jr. and Curt Cook, which took first place in the judging. (Scott Takushi, Pioneer Press)

8. Art by Kids: St. Paul elementary and middle school students have contributed artwork for what has become the carnival annual Children Art Show at AZ Gallery, 308 Prince St., on display through Feb. 2. Check it Women Canada Goose Solaris Parka Red Singapore Outlets out, then slip next door for hot cocoa at the Black Dog Cafe and a look at the juried show of art by grown ups.

Women Canada Goose Solaris Parka Red Singapore Outlets

With the Landmark Center as a backdrop, the Vulcans formed a torch lit entrance to Rice Park, during the official kick off to the 126th Saint Paul Winter Carnival " the Moon Glow Pedestrian Parade, Thursday, January 26, 2012. (Pioneer Press: Chris Polydoroff)

Show CaptionOther than boisterous late night parties with the Vulcans and King Boreas court, the Winter Carnival is designed to be family friendly. Here are a dozen picks for things to check out with kids. Also note that Metro Transit is offering free bus rides both carnival weekends to downtown St. Paul.

3. Ice skating: Twirl in the shadow of Landmark Center on the Wells Fargo WinterSkate rink. Sundays. Skating is free, and skate rental is $2 (free if you show a Wells Fargo credit/check card).

2. Ice carving: Watch sculptures emerge from blocks of ice in Rice Park. Jan. 23 and finish for judging the morning of Jan. 25. Jan. Dusk is a magical time to visit, when everything twinkles in the floodlights.

9. Autonomous Snowplows: Why shovel when you can program a robotic plow? Engineering students from eight colleges and universities compete with rolling plows that use sensors, lasers, GPS and other tech tricks to push snow in a straight line and around a corner. Jan. 25 and Jan. 26 in Rice Park.

6. Grande Day Parade: The newly crowned King Boreas leads carnival royalty, marching bands, floats and the bouncing girls in the Grande Day Parade. Jan. 25 and follows West Seventh Street from Grand Avenue to Rice Park. After the parade, head to the St. Paul Hotel for hot cocoa in the lobby.

12 things to do with the kids

Maja Beckstrom can be reached at 651 228 5295.

4. Snow sculptures: Not your average snowmen. Last year winning sculpture was a life size bull moose in battle with two wolves, and the runner up was a teacher and student seated at an upright piano. Jan. 25. Competition ends at noon Jan. Sculptures stay up through Feb. 2. Minnesota State Fairgrounds, 1265 N.

10. Winter Carnival Geocaching: Download a free GPS app from the iTunes store or grab your Garmin and track down containers hidden in parks around St. Paul. Each can be found by following the GPS coordinates. Entry forms and coordinates are available at the carnival button sales booth in Rice Park or at the carnival office in Landmark Center.

1. Moon Glow Pedestrian Parade: Want to be in a parade? Walk with festival organizers, local leaders and neighbors. Bring your candles, flashlights and anything else that casts a light. start Jan. 23 at the Securian Building (401 Robert St.) and head up Fourth street to Rice Park, where you be greeted with ice sculptures, live music, beverages from the ice bar and 20 foot flames shooting out of hot air balloon baskets.

5. Snow Slide: The slide returns to the Vulcan Krewe Snow Park at the State Fairgrounds. Jan. Feb. 2. Minnesota State Fairgrounds, 1265 N.

Maja Beckstrom covers nonprofit organizations for the Pioneer Press. She was hired as a religion reporter, spent a few years covering poverty, and recently wrote her last Pioneer Press Family Outings column,because her teenager started complaining about hanging out with her. She's won awards, including a Premack for her year long series about a grandmother and four children struggling through the aftermath of a domestic violence homicide. She has also swung on a trapeze in the name of journalism.

7. Enjoy an indoor bouncy house, games and free face painting from the Minnesota RollerGirls. Feb. 2 for Family Day, which offers more entertainment and games.

Aliya Strong, 1, with her mother Alexa Strong, dances to music in the street as Minnesota State Fair mascot "Fairchild" comes by near Rice Park during the 2012 St. Paul Winter Carnival Torchlight Parade on Saturday, February 4, 2012 on 5th Street in downtown St. Paul. (Pioneer Press: Sherri LaRose Chiglo)