FAMILY FRIENDLY HOLIDAY EVENTS

Make this your most magical holiday season yet

By Taylor Weeks

Family Ice Skating on outdoor ice rink. Family friendly holiday events.

Photo by familylifestyle/Fotolia

The holiday season is a magical time of year. It’s filled with nightly mugs of hot chocolate (with extra marshmallows, of course), brightly lit trees and homes, and fat snowflakes falling from the sky. Kids, especially, hold a sense of wonder during this festive time. Viewing the seasons through a child's eyes can help everyone be a bit merrier. The Twin Cities are filled with events to bring the spirit of the holidays to the community, spreading cheer to all. Most of these events are family friendly. We have gathered together some highlights for you and your child to share in the lively festivities:

Visit the American Swedish Institute and wander through the Turnblad Mansion. The famous rooms are beautifully decorated in Nordic style. Listen to traditional Swedish holiday music at Music in the Mansion—and afterwards, you and your child can create a masterpiece at the Family Handcraft event. Music in the Mansion and Family Handcraft are included with admission and are free for American Swedish Institute members. (Upcoming dates: Dec. 10, 17, 23)

You can also visit local theaters for holiday-themed productions. These events are particularly nice for entire families to attend together. Go to Children’s Theatre Company for a production of the timeless classic, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (through Jan. 7), or Stages Theatre Company’s enchanting rendition of “Beauty and the Beast, Jr.” (through Dec. 28).

For an interactive holiday treat, head over to Jungle Theater to participate in Mrs. Peterson’s Holiday Hour on Dec. 9 from 11 a.m. to noon. This event, created with children nine and under in mind, involves “Mrs. Peterson,” played by Wendy Lehr, reading stories and leading sing-alongs with special guest Christina Baldwin, the director of Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley. Cookies will be offered at the end of the event. Tickets are $7 for adults and free for children.

For a community festival, explore Holidazzle at Loring Park in downtown Minneapolis (through Dec. 23). There are activities for all ages. Buy some cheese curds, listen to a musical performance, and let your kiddos explore the Kid Zone and coloring booth. Or grab a chair (and a blanket) and enjoy an outdoor holiday-themed movie night. There are also Wolf and Moose art exhibits that your children can interact with. And on Saturday evenings, the festival puts on a fireworks show across the pond.

If you’re looking for an outdoor activity, go ice skating at one of the Wells Fargo WinterSkate locations. One location is at Holidazzle in downtown Minneapolis, while the other is in downtown St. Paul next to Rice Park. These artificially chilled rinks are perfect for any temperature. Don’t worry if you don’t have skates—the Holidazzle location offers complimentary skates, and the Rice Park location has $4 skate rentals (or free with a Wells Fargo banking card). If your child is still finding his balance on the ice, you can borrow a skating walker as well.

Another wonderful holiday attraction is the Minnesota Zoo. Kids can have their pictures taken with Santa on Santa Saturdays and wish for their very own zoo animals for Christmas. Photos are free with zoo admission, so while you're here make sure to check out all of the animals, and try to spot the newborn Amur Tiger playing in the snow. (Upcoming dates: Dec. 9, 16)

Make the most of your holiday season and enjoy these family friendly events. We hope your holidays are as magical as can be.

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