Rochester Thaw
A Celebration of Music and Community

As the winter chill begins to retreat, the city of Rochester, Minnesota, stirs from its seasonal slumber, ready to celebrate the impending arrival of spring with the Rochester Thaw Music Festival. Created from a desire to build something the community could genuinely enjoy, the festival has grown from its humble beginnings into an event that activates the town and brings people together through the power of music.

With the first year setting a modest benchmark, the festival’s goal was always to expand and enrich the experience. By its second official year in 2023, it did just that, scaling up to include multiple venues and elevating the event to mirror the format of other, similar events in the area.

But what sets Rochester Thaw apart is not just its timing or its scope—it’s the festival’s ability to build a community music event that isn’t just about music; it’s about celebrating life, community and the transition into spring.

Minnesota winters can be long and brutal, and by March, residents are more than ready to emerge from their homes. Rochester Thaw perfectly captures this collective eagerness, occurring on the cusp of spring, a time when the slow thaw begins, and the promise of warmer days is just on the horizon. 

It’s designed to be an all-weather event, where rain or shine, the community is encouraged to walk from venue to venue, embracing the outdoor elements, with the assurance of still enjoying music inside if the weather turns.

“Last year I stood in downtown Rochester on the corner of Broadway and 4th during peak of day. I could hear music everywhere. People pouring out of one venue talking about who they are going to see next. Seeing that kind of community activation is so amazing,” shares Festival Director Nick Novotny.

Inclusivity is at the heart of Rochester Thaw. The festival strives for a diverse representation throughout its lineup, featuring women artists, artists of color and LGBTQ+ artists. It’s determined not to be a “one-note” festival. With two of the three headliners being women and a third of the lineup featuring Rochester-based talent, the festival showcases a rich array of genres and talents. 

Last year’s event was a sold-out success, a clear sign that the festival has struck a chord with the community. Remember to get tickets early so you don’t miss out on the opportunity to see downtown Rochester in a whole new light.

Tickets can be purchased at:

About Author

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When Terri moved to Rochester 13 years ago, she looked to Rochester Women magazine to find connections. Because she works as a nonprofit consultant and coach, helping women find balance, connection and purpose, she knew how important those connections would be for her. Now, she looks forward to offering that same opportunity for connection to others in our community through her work at Rochester Women Magazine. When she is not working, she enjoys looking for seashells, dancing and snuggling her dogs.

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