The snow has started to fall and winter is upon us, but don’t despair! The holiday season is here, and Minneapolis really knows how to have fun during the winter holidays. Read on for a just a few of the holiday events and fun things to do in and around the Twin Cities this holiday season.
Holidazzle at Loring Park
Holidazzle is a downtown Minneapolis holiday tradition put on by the Minneapolis Downtown Council. Holidazzle aims to create a gathering place for the community, a holiday destination where people of all ages can come together and celebrate winter. Whaaat? Well yes, we do celebrate winter here in the Minneapple!
Holidazzle features local people, places and products to showcase a few of the things that make the city of Minneapolis special and unique: our local food and art scenes, our fabulous entertainers and wonderful community groups. So get yourself to Loring Park for local foods, beverages and shopping from area small businesses. You’ll also find entertainment, interactive art installations, fire pits, photo ops, and lots of fun.
Families with kids will enjoy merry-go-round rides in Loring Park, a Kids Zone equipped with fun slides, mazes, haybales and more, and an opportunity to meet and take photos with Santa. (Grown-ups can meet Santa, too!)
Holidazzle Fireworks will be happening at 7:15 p.m. on Saturdays, November 26, December 3, 10, and 17.
November 25–December 18
Winter Lights at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
Stroll through the Arboretum gardens decked out in Winter Lights. Enjoy fresh air on a .75-mile walking route past outdoor light displays, highlighting flowers, trees and the beauty of nature. See the new 16-foot weeping willow tree and walk through the giant apple, which pays tribute to the Horticultural Research Center’s apple research. Stop by s’mores village to warm up near a fire and buy s’mores kits to roast marshmallows.
The Eatery at the Arboretum will offer a full dinner menu, including kids options, or you can visit the cash bar on the Oswald Visitor Center balcony for snacks and drinks. The Visitor Center and the Snyder Building will be decorated for the season, including a towering 25-foot Poinsettia Tree, created using more than 500 red, white and pink poinsettias.
Select nights November 17, 2022–January 1, 2023
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
Gingerbread Wonderland at Norway House
Gingerbread (or in Norwegian, ‘pepperkake’) is a quintessential feature of the Norwegian holiday season. Towns all over the country come together to build their own miniature cookie cities, bringing families, schools, businesses, nursing homes, and friends all together during the holiday season. In fact, the world’s largest annual Gingerbread City is exhibited in Bergen, with more than 2000 structures!
Norway House wanted Minnesota to get in on the fun, too! They kicked off their first Gingerbread Wonderland in 2015. Since then, it’s grown to over 250 gingerbread structures. You will find a few hundred familiar buildings and landmarks created by the community, from gingerbread enthusiasts of all ages and abilities to professional bakers. You’ll get the opportunity to vote for your favorites, too!
November 22, 2022–January 8, 2023
The Heights Theater
The Heights is one of my favorite movie theaters in the Twin Cities. Originally constructed in 1926, the lovingly restored Beaux Arts style theater specializes in upscale first run films, classic film series and events. Their holiday showing of “White Christmas” is one of their most popular events. The 1954 technicolor favorite starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera Ellen is so much fun to see on the big screen with a happy holiday crowd.
The holiday show starts with a special 20-minute concert by Maud Hixson, singing a stocking full of favorite holiday classics, accompanied by Rick Carlson on the piano. There’s also a pre-show concert on the Mighty Wurlitzer pipe organ. The Heights is the only movie theater in town to have a functioning pipe organ. It rises up from the former orchestra pit, lowering when the film is about to begin. Organists play a short program Friday and Saturday nights before the 7:10 shows, as well as for silent movies and for special movie events like this one.
The Heights Theater
Yuletide Cinema at The Parkway
Great for families, there’s something for everyone in the holiday lineup at the Parkway Theater. Happening as Saturday matinees during December, you can see “Home Alone” (1990), “The Muppet Christmas Carol” (1992), “Elf” (2003) , and “Edward Scissorhands” (1990).
Aside from attending shows individually, patrons can get a Yuletide Cinema Movie Pass. Each pass comes with a free bag of popcorn for each screening, which, well, has me sold. I love popcorn! Learn more at the link above.
Saturdays, December 3–31
The Parkway Theater
Holiday Favorites at Minneapolis Theaters
A Christmas Carol
A miserly and miserable man, Ebenezer Scrooge greets each Christmas with “Bah! Humbug!” until he is visited one Christmas Eve by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future. In Charles Dickens’ beloved classic, the three spirits show Scrooge happy memories from his past, difficult realities from the present and a grim future should he continue his closed-hearted ways. Throughout his journey, Scrooge is forced to reckon with the man he has become and contemplate the man he could be — but only if his restless night leads to a change of heart by morning. Artistic Director Joseph Haj returns to direct this heartwarming holiday tradition for all ages.
November 12–December 31
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
A miserly and miserable, ever-so-cantankerous Grinch has observed the despicable Christmas joy of the Whos with disdain, from a distance, for decades. Enough! In this favorite holiday story, filled with music and Seussian rhymes, he conceives a dastardly plot to destroy the holiday they love. It’s the smallest of the Whos, tiny Cindy Lou, who extends a hand. Through the combination of kindness and community, we witness not only a change in the course of Who-History, but the size and capacity of the cantankerous Grinch’s heart.
Black Nativity at Penumbra Theatre
Be part of a joyous Twin Cities tradition. Penumbra’s homegrown Christmas show makes a triumphant return with familiar faces and a new generation of talent. Let the timeless story, stirring vocals and breath-taking choreography wrap you in the spirit of the season.
November 29–December 24
Nutcracker! Magical Christmas Ballet
This Christmas bring the whole family back to a simpler time with Nutcracker! Magical Christmas Ballet. The internationally acclaimed Christmas tradition is LIVE in theaters for the 30th Anniversary tour. Gather friends and family to re-live your fondest childhood dreams, overflowing with larger-than-life puppets, breath-taking acrobatics and dazzling costumes.
Holiday Pop-Up Bars
For the grown ups, holiday pop-up bars help you feel that Christmas cheer with lots of festive holiday cocktails drunk admidst over-the-top decor.
Mary’s Christmas Palace
Mary’s Christmas Palace at Psycho Suzi’s is an annual Christmas extravaganza now in its fifth year. Holiday-themed cocktails like gingerbread white Russian or bourbon-spiked hot chocolate. Holiday-themed eats include nutmeg-spiced wings, tots with red and green sauce, a pizza loaded with Thanksgiving fixings, and a DIY cookie decorating kit. Mary’s Christmas Palace is open daily from October 1 through January 28.
Miracle at Lawless
Every year, Lawless Distilling partners with barware company Cocktail Kingdom to transform its tasting room into a dreamland of Christmas kitsch. Come for the garish holiday decor and grab a seat beneath the vast canopy of ornaments dangling from the ceiling. The festive cocktail menu has favorites from previous years, like the Christmapolitan — a cosmo riff with creme de flora, lime, anise, and rosemary — plus brand-new drinks, like a warm mug of chai spiked with whiskey and espresso liqueur. Miracle at Lawless runs daily from November 21 to December 31.
The Jingle Bar
Every year, the crew transforms Excelsior’s Old Log Theatre, a 125-year-old log cabin, into a cozy, kitschy winter wonderland festooned with garlands, lights, and baubles. The theater’s restaurant, Cast & Cru, is serving drinks: Cozy up to the fireplace with a hot buttered rum, an eggnog white Russian, or maple pecan old fashioned. Wine, beer, and spirits are also available. The Jingle Bar is open from November 25 to December 23 on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
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Holidazzle feature photo by Dusty Hoskovec Photography.