See more of the story

The omicron variant may be on the rise but Art Shanty Projects, the popular outdoor winter art experience, is back after two years away with a new COVID-wise approach.

The pop-up project kicks off this weekend on the frozen surface of Minneapolis' Lake Harriet, running from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Feb. 6.

Adjustments have been made to ensure visitors' safety. While the annual event was inspired by Minnesota's ice-fishing shacks, people won't be entering tiny shanties this year.

"Everything is open air," said executive director Erin Lavelle. "Some are built to be exterior and don't look like boxes or houses anymore. We also decided to add more performances and art actions, so we can be more spread out and things can be happening all around us."

A total of 18 shanties and 20 performance groups will cover the northwest corner of the lake, near the Band Shell. Some shanties will also have their own curated performances as part of the experience.

Most of the participating artists are from the Twin Cities, although one performer is from Finland, Minn. Art Shanty Projects didn't want to bring in people from out-of-state because of the pandemic.

"I think more than anything, artists are responding to isolation and wanting to be together," said Lavalle. "None of the shanties are specifically about the pandemic, but rather finding ways to creatively adapt and engage with strangers, which is something we haven't been doing for two years."

Art Shanty Projects, started in 2004, last happened in 2020, just weeks before the pandemic shut down everything.