Ben McGinley


I’ve been coming to Belwin for years and never sat within this forest. It’s beautiful!

– Guest at 2019’s Music in the Trees

Belwin recognizes the arts’ ability to bridge divides, open doors, and make the intangible more easily understood. Since 2015, our Arts, Culture, and Ecology program has been doing just that. You’re invited to join us in engaging deeply with nature through performance events, hands-on artmaking, and our Artist in Residence program. Through arts and culture, we can inspire even more people to treasure and care for our natural spaces.

Annual Arts, Culture, and Ecology Events

EcoArts at Belwin’s Bison Festival

Every May, our Bison Festival celebrates the release of the herd onto the prairie. Join the fun with live music and hands-on art making inspired by and created with the natural elements surrounding you.

Music in the Trees

Each August, this music festival celebrating forest ecology and music features performers playing from tree stands in a four-acre pine grove. Featuring a fully accessible performance hosted by the Center for Hmong Arts and Talent that includes traditional and contemporary dance and music. (Hmong-English and ALS translation provided.)

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. Music in the Trees is also funded in part by the St. Croix Valley Foundation.

Winter Solstice Bonfire

This beloved event features night hikes, a warming house, and storytelling each year. Sometimes the stories are musical, with sing-a-longs or group dancing, and most recently, Ikidowin Youth Theater told traditional seasonal Ojibwe stories. “Winter is the time for telling stories.

Three people in winter coats are silhouetted against a large roaring outdoor fire.

Artists in Residence

Started in 2016, Belwin’s Artist in Residence program offers creatives the opportunity to learn from and be inspired by the natural processes that take place on our 1,500 acre preserve. Artists learn about the multitude of species, the importance of healthy ecosystems, and the purpose of land restoration from Belwin’s staff and have time to focus on their creative process.

A person sits on the ground in front of a large outdoor sculpture surrounded by trees.
2021 Artist in Residence Tom Bierlein completed his installation The Coming Soil in the summer of 2021.

Past Artists in Residence:

Tom Bierlein, sculptor, builder, gardener (2021)
Rory Wakemup, visual artist (2019)
Tamsie Ringler, sculptor (2016-17)
Steve Heitzeg, composer (2016)
Laurie Allmann, poet (2016)


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Why Belwin Matters

We spark passion for wild places through conservation, education, and immersive experiences on more than 1,500 acres in Minnesota’s Saint Croix Valley.


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1553 Stagecoach Trail South
Afton, MN 55001

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