Maximize your true northern holiday experience at the reinvented Twin Cities Holidazzle

Image by Dusty Hoskovec Photography via Holidazzle

By Tammy Galvin

If the saying “There’s no place like home for the holidays” is true, then there’s no place like Loring Park for the Twin Cities Holidazzle. Starting on Black Friday and running Thursdays-Sundays through Dec. 23, this Minneapolis marquee holiday event is not one to miss despite what its critics have claimed over recent years.

For more than 20 years, the Twin Cities Holidazzle Parade drew more than 300,000 people annually from around the region to watch an actual holiday parade…at night. Yes, the floats were adorned with thousands of twinkling lights and they, along with 250 lighted and costumed characters marching down Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis, were truly a sight to behold.

Holidazzle bus in the parade.

The perennial favorite had many families—this writer included—flocking, year after year after year, to this event. In fact, on my family’s last trek we splurged and bought four of the coveted “heated seats” (bleachers covered by a tent and surrounded with heaters blowing about obnoxiously dry) that came with a not-so-piping hot, endless cup of cocoa for all of about $7 each.

At the time, my kids were still young enough to enjoy the majesty of it all, but there really wasn’t much in the way of awe-inspiring, memory-making holiday extravaganza to be had. Perhaps it was because this was the year of its final run—2013—or perhaps the event itself had merely run its course and began to fizzle.

I firmly believe it was the latter. Fast-forward to 2014 and even a daytime parade of lighted floats would’ve been better than the grave mistakes made at Peavy Plaza, the new “home” to the Holifizzle, err, Holidazzle I mean. Wait in an incredibly long line, pay $6 and shop (that’s right pay to shop), amidst a handful of kiosks in a European-style market. We spent more time that night watching the Wisconsin Badgers play at nearby Brit’s Pub.

But times, they did change and both city departments responsible for the event did just that—they took responsibility for the error of their ways as social media exploded with negative reviews.

The Minneapolis Downtown Council and Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board sparked new energy into Holidazzle by first, moving it to Loring Park last year, and secondly, by going back to its deeply held roots: Unabashedly celebrate all things “northland” in a family-friendly atmosphere.

Holidazzle fireworks

Image by Dusty Hoskovec Photography via Holidazzle

So the new and vastly improved Twin Cities Holidazzle is set to open Nov. 25 and run Thursdays through Sundays until Dec. 23. I urge all of you who are left with that awful aftertaste of days gone by in your mouth to give it a try. Holidazzle is well on its way to becoming that once-again quintessential community gathering place and holiday destination for people of all ages to come together and celebrate winter in downtown Minneapolis.

Everything that makes our amazing city unique—local people, products and places that showcase our foodie scene, arts district, park system, active lifestyle and local entertainers—will be represented at Loring Park over the next several weeks.

Minnesota-centric vendors of food, beverages, unique gifts and crafts will blend with incredible programming like an outdoor skating rink, visits from Santa, musical performances from local bands and choirs, weekly outdoor movies featuring the holiday classics, themed days, giveaways, and much more.

So to all of my fellow locals who have written off this once-upon-a-time classic, put on your big boy boots and give it a try. And to all the visitors happening upon our fair cities during this most wonderful time of year, be sure to check it out. You won’t be disappointed.


City Secrets

METRO Transit offers free rides to Holidazzle each Saturday from 10am – 11pm. Click here for details.


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