A LIST OF FUN UNIQUE EVENTS & THINGS TO DO DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON (MOSTLY IN THE TWIN CITIES)
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What is there to do to celebrate Christmas in Minnesota?
Minnesota is truly the “Ultimate Winter Wonderland”. If you’ve never been to the state of Minnesota in the winter, I mean it’s hard not to be festive when you’re surrounded by snow and natural fir trees. No matter where you are within the state of Minnesota there is holiday cheer and many fun events to celebrate the Christmas season. From holiday light displays, epic Christmas trees, events and Christmas markets, holiday themed restaurants and more! You’re bound to have a White Christmas and a very festive one at that! There are a multitude of different ways to celebrate Christmas and the holiday season across the state of Minnesota so lets dive into the details and all of the fun events to plan out your Christmas in Minnesota!
Minnesota Holiday Light Displays
I don’t know about you, but those twinkling lights get me every time. Whether it’s a traditional color, bright white or multi colored displays of Christmas lights they just make me happy. Throughout Minnesota there are many opportunities to see beautiful sparkling lights all over the state. Every year it seems the events start sooner rather than later. (Many of these start around Thanksgiving or shortly before.) Read more about The Best Christmas Lights in Minnesota.
Festive Cocktail Pop Up Bars & restaurants
Miracle Pop up at Lawless Distilling
Miracle pop up is a festive cocktail experience that’s located many different places throughout the United States and some international locations as well. This year there is actually a second location at Stilheart Distilling as well! In the past, I’ve always gone to Lawless but it’s great to know there’s more than one location participating in Minneapolis for 2021.
Betty Dangers & Psycho Suzi’s Festive Bars
Both of these fun bars are located in the Northeast area of Minneapolis. Betty Dangers and Psycho Suzi’s offer festive cocktails, food menu & over the top decor to really get you in the mood to be festive. No Christmas in Minnesota is complete without visiting at least one of these for some drinks and good cheer!
New for this year, Betty Dangers is offering Felicia’s Navidad while Psycho Suzi’s is offering Mary’s Christmas Palace. The last year they had these events (2019) Mary’s Christmas Palace was at Betty Dangers.
Felicia’s Navidad is a Mexican food and drink centered event which is new for this year. Whereas Mary’s Christmas Palace continues for the fourth year from after Halloween through December 31st! There is a time limit if you wish to be indoors, however they have an all season patio where there aren’t any time limitations. These two restaurants/bars are located near each other so you could always make a reservation at one and then head over to the other for the patio! Even more christmas cheer to go around.
The 12 Bars of Christmas is a pub crawl throughout Minneapolis. Typically it takes place the first weekend in December and the bars have changed year over year. It’s a fun festive bar crawl if you’re up for walking around downtown in cold temps in the name of Christmas cheer! I have yet to make it to all 12 bars. Usually 6-7 makes for a pretty good night! This has been cancelled for the past few years due to the pandemic, but definitely keep it in mind for the future!
There are many Christmas tree farms across the state of Minnesota to celebrate Christmas by selecting your own tree. Visit the specific tree farm websites to inquire about making a reservation as most have only limited time slots and trees if you want to cut your own! Many of these locations have other festive events going on such as cozy fires, hayrides or small markets. Luckily there are locations all over the metro for convenience. One of the most well known is Hansen Tree Farm.
Hansen Tree Farm
Located North of the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area is Hansen’s Tree Farm. Usually the event venue is open in early November for photographers and events for holiday photos.
However, most people make a reservation to cut down their own tree making it a Christmas tradition to load the family up, head to the tree farm and select the perfect tree. (Just after typing that, I’m laughing out loud picturing Clark Griswold’s Christmas tree once they brought it home.)
Rum River Tree Farm
Located in the northeast of the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area is Rum River Tree Farm. Where you can cut your own Christmas tree, visit Santa, have a hayride and even food trucks! More than just a family tradition, it’s also a fun and festive event after selecting the perfect tree.
Krueger’s Christmas Trees
Located East of the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area within the St. Croix Valley in Lake Elmo is Krueger’s Christmas Trees. Here you can choose a pre-cut tree or cut your own for a fun and festive afternoon with your family. Just be sure to make a reservation in advance!
Christmas in Minnesota: Holiday Afternoon Teas
St. Paul Hotel
You could travel to London or just book an afternoon tea at St. Paul Hotel. Enjoying an afternoon of luxury surrounded by the classic holiday decor at the historic St. Paul Hotel is sure to put anyone in the holiday spirit.
Mad Hatter in Anoka, MN
Located in the north metro and specializing in the afternoon tea experience this high tea experience is one you should miss! You can make reservations for a brunch or tea easily online making it perfect to fit into your holiday plans.
Holiday Tea at Nicollett Island Inn is a full afternoon tea experience. Including delicious tea, pastries and savory food as well. It’s definitely a splurge but I love a great holiday tea! Be advised, they have valet parking only in their lot unless you park on the street just outside of the hotel.
Christmas in Minnesota: Holiday Events and Markets
There truly are so many holiday events and markets in Minnesota that it would be nearly impossibly to list all of them. Here is a list of many that are in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area this year.
The days of the Holidazzle parade are long gone. It used to be a Minneapolis tradition to go to the Holidazzle light parade then see the downtown Macy’s Christmas display. However, sadly both of these events have been discontinued from their former glory. Holidazzle now looks a little different as it’s located in Loring Park and the theme and what’s available changes each year. It’s still a really fun time and there’s usually vendors, food & much fun to be had.
St. Paul, MN: European Christmas Market
Located at Union Depot in St. Paul, Minnesota this Christmas Market will make you feel like you’re in Europe. An open air experience with all of the twinkling lights and local vendors selling holiday gifts as well as festive food to enjoy. It’s a must visit especially if you miss the classic European Christmas markets or have always wanted to experience them. You can, right here during Christmas in Minnesota!
Handmade Holiday Market at Lakes & Legends Brewery
On Saturdays in December, the handmade holiday market will be going on at Lakes & Legends Brewery. What’s better than popping in for a few pints, getting some shopping done and also supporting local artisans? If you love craft beer, be sure to check out The Best Breweries in the Twin Cities. Many other breweries throughout the Twin Cities have markets or festive holiday events.
Within the western suburbs is another European inspired market, Excelsior Chriskindlsmarkt. Inspired by a Christmas markets of Germany and Europe but located in the Midwest of the USA. The Northern Express is a fully immersive winter wonderland experience in December in Excelsior, MN. Expect to feel like you’ve landed at the North Pole for an evening of festive fun the whole family will enjoy. This Christmas Market features items to peruse for sale by local artisans including food and beverages. There are many events and parades for children in addition to the market itself. You may even see appearances by Santa and his reindeer!
The Northern Express (Excelsior, MN)
The Northern Express is a fully immersive winter wonderland experience in December in Excelsior, MN. Expect to feel like you’ve landed at the North Pole for an evening of festive fun the whole family will enjoy. Pair your visit onto the Chriskindlsmarkt for a festive day or evening.
Visit Historic Glensheen Mansion in Duluth, MN
The beautiful historic mansion gets decked out in allllll of the Christmas decor. In addition to this, there are Christmas tours & even a free light display as mentioned previously. If traditional Christmas is your jam, Glensheen is sure to deliver!
See Santa & the decorations at the MOA (Mall of America)
The Mall Of America is a place I don’t go often. However, during Christmas the decor and specialty Christmas stores are absolutely amazing! One of my favorite seasonal stores is the ornament store. Just walking around seeing all of the large Christmas trees, sparkly lights and snagging a holiday coffee drink is the perfect afternoon during the Christmas season in Minnesota. The Mall of America also has a Santa Experience for the little ones.
Outdoor Activities to celebrate Christmas in Minnesota
There are many opportunities to ice skate all over the state of Minnesota. The most iconic for Christmas in Minnesota is Rice Park. Explore Minnesota offers a more comprehensive list of places to ice skate in Minnesota.
Go Sledding or Snow Tubing
No Christmas in Minnesota is complete without seeking out a sledding hill for some wholesome fun! Growing up, spending an afternoon sledding before coming in to a Christmas eve or day meal is something I will forever cherish.
Whether you take your own sleds to a nearby hill or head to a more formal event they’re both so much fun! Many ski areas offer snow tubing so that’s something the whole family can enjoy on a winter afternoon or evening.
Some popular snow tubing destinations include: Theodore Wirth, Buck Hill, Highland Hills, Elm Creek & Welch Village. Or you could seek out a neighborhood favorite in your area!
Christmas themed performing arts
Each holiday season, The Ordway offers different musical performances to enjoy. Each year, the offerings differ and performance dates can vary as well. Be sure to check directly with the Ordway so you don’t miss out on a Christmas themed performance in Minnesota.
The Guthrie Theater
Typically the Guthrie will have performances of the classic play “A Christmas Carol” throughout the month of December. Check the specific dates with the theater directly.
Ballet Performances: The Nutcracker
A classic holiday ballet performance of, The Nutcracker is always sure to please. Many different ballet houses across the Twin Cities metro area put on a performance within the month of December. One of the most well known being the Twin Cities Ballet of Minnesota.
The Trans Siberian Orchestra is a combination of rock playing well known Christmas Carols. Typically this performance comes to St. Paul at the Xcel Energy Center venue for a handful of performances. Each year it’s different so definitely check with Ticketmaster & directly on the Trans Siberian Orchestra website for the specific details.
Beyond Christmas in Minnesota: more MN Travel
Did I miss a favorite spot or somewhere that should definitely be included? Drop me a line by sending me an email or reach out to me on social media.
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