Don’t miss out on the biggest and brightest annual holiday events in Minneapolis and St. Paul

By Claire Noack

With all of the cheer, lights and decorations, it’s hard not to get caught up in the magic of the holidays. Whether you enjoy singing carols, playing out in the snow, or being surrounded by family and friends, Minneapolis and St. Paul go over the top to make your holiday wishes come true. Events of all kinds—including music, markets and historical Christmas tours—pop up around the Twin Cities at this time of year. In fact, there are so many that it can be hard to decide where to go. To help you get started soaking up the holiday spirit, here’s a list of the top five must-see events that are beloved by locals and visitors alike each year.


Thursdays through Sundays, Nov. 24–Dec. 23
If you had to pick just one holiday event to attend this season, it should be Holidazzle. A veritable winter staple in Minneapolis, Holidazzle offers dozens of free events in Loring Park to get you in the spirit. Lace up some skates, or rent for free, and glide across the outdoor rink. Grab a chair and blanket and settle in for festive movie nights or watch a brilliant fireworks display, sing along with carolers, take photos with Santa and so much more. There’s even a holiday market, filled with hot food and drinks to snack on while you trek through the twinkling park, as well as jewelry, toys, clothing and other treats that make perfect seasonal gifts.

Gingerbread Wonderland

Nov. 21–Jan. 7
The Norway House is baking up a new holiday tradition with the third annual Gingerbread Wonderland. Learn about the Norwegian custom of transforming pepperkake, which means gingerbread, into cookies, houses and ornaments during the holidays, and tour the gingerbread village on display in the Galleri. Made by professional bakers and amateur gingerbread enthusiasts alike, the sweet abodes are crafted to resemble some of your favorite Twin Cities landmarks from the Capitol Building to U.S. Bank Stadium to First Avenue. Tickets cost $5 for adults and children over 12.

A Victorian Christmas

Thursdays through Sundays, Nov. 24–Dec. 31
Experience the sights, sounds and tastes of a Victorian Christmas in 1875. During this guided 60-minute tour of the impeccably decorated Alexander Ramsey House in St. Paul, guests can taste homemade cookies fresh from the wood burning stove, listen to popular holiday music of the era, and view original family ornaments and holiday gifts. Discover how the Ramsey family and their friends, neighbors and servants prepared for and celebrated the Christmas season. Tickets cost $12 for adults; $10 for seniors, veterans and active military, and college students; $8 for children 5-17; free for children four and under; and Minnesota Historical Society members receive a $2 discount. Make sure to check the Minnesota Historical Society’s calendar for other signature holiday events held at places like the Kelley Farm and James J. Hill House.

Making Spirits Bright at the Arboretum

Fridays-Sundays, Nov. 24–Jan. 1
The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum makes spirits bright with the joys of nature and the colors of the season. Take a winter stroll  and wander through magnificently lit-up trees and art displays that create a magical atmosphere. The festivities continue with the Arboretum’s free holiday events with gate admission, including themed light displays, live holiday music, photos with Santa and winter gift market. Gate admission costs $15 for adults and is free for children 15 and under.

Rock & Roll Christmas Show

Nov. 30–Dec. 3, Dec. 6-10
Get ready to crank your holiday spirit all the way up and be thoroughly delighted by the Rock & Roll Christmas Show, a musical extravaganza at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. Returning for the third time, this poplar event mixes rock hits of the ’70s to today with hilarious stories and parodies. The 8-piece cast of musicians rock their way through Christmas classics with so much energy and creativity that it might just become your newest family tradition.


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