The holiday spirit is alive and well in the Twin Cities. Below is the Twin Cities on the Cheap’s guide to FREE and cheap holiday events in the Twin Cities area. We will continue to add more events throughout the month. Visit websites to confirm dates, times, fees and locations. Some events are FREE and others require a fee or registration.
Holidazzle Village begins November 23 open Thursdays through Sundays until December 23, Thursdays 5 – 9 p.m., Fridays 5 – 10 p.m., Saturdays 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. and Sundays, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. held in Loring Park. Holidazzle features stories highlighting local people, products and places that showcase the food scene, art district, park system, active lifestyle, local entertainers and community groups that make the Twin Cities and the region unique and special. It is completely FREE and open for all ages. The skating rink (also FREE) will be available for use beginning November 23. Bring your own skates or borrow a complimentary pair located in the warming house. Skate sizes vary and available on a first come first serve basis. Events planned for the Village include fireworks, meet Santa, hop on a carriage ride, classic holiday movies and live entertainment. Click here for a full schedule of events including a list of holiday movies. This year FREE sleigh rides to and from Holidazzle and FREE bus or light rail on certain days – click here for more information.
Wells Fargo WinterSkate open November 17 – February 3. Visit St. Paul’s FREE, outdoor, artificially-chilled ice skating rink, located downtown St. Paul next to the historic Landmark Center and across from Rice Park. Receive FREE skate rental for the family by showing your Wells Fargo check card or credit card. Otherwise skate rental is $4 per person. Onsite amenities include a warming house with hot chocolate and other beverages. Open Skate Hours are Monday-Thursday: 11 a.m. – 4:50 p.m., Friday: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m., Saturday: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m., and Sunday: 11 a.m. – 4:50 p.m. FREE skating lessons on December 1st, 8th and 15th and January 12th, 19th and 26th – noon – 1 p.m. Closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Stop by and visit the historic Landmark Center for FREE public tours every Thursday at 11 a.m. or Sundays at noon.
Rice Park powered by Xcel Energy starts November 18 with the tree lighting ceremony. Downtown St. Paul’s historic Rice Park transforms into an enchanting winter wonderland. At center stage and powered by Xcel Energy will be a gigantic tree as tall and bright as the Rockefeller Center tree in New York City. The Rice Park tree will be lit 24 hours a day, seven days a week with 15,000 energy-efficient LED lights. The park will sparkle with millions of twinkling lights, classic Nutcracker and angel statutes and other holiday decor. Lights powered by Xcel will stay up through Mid March.
Ring in the “Zoo” year with the Noon Year’s Party at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory at New Year’s on December 31 and January 1. This popular family event features entertainment by KidsDance, craft making, special animal enrichment, giveaways, and a countdown to noon with hundreds of beach balls dropped from the ceiling. The festivities will take place at the Visitor Center from 10 am – 1 pm. Admission is always FREE. A voluntary donation is appreciated.
- The Mall will be hosting a Holiday Music Festival this year open for talented performers and groups to entertain Mall visitors from November 26 through December 26. Performances will take place in the Rotunda.
The Union Depot will gather the top bakeries from the Twin Cities on December 9 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. for its annual Holiday Bake Sale. Guests will experience a mix of modern and historic holiday decor. Activities include: baking and cooking demonstrations, musical performances, craft demonstrations, food and drink pairing workshops and fun giveaways throughout the day. Admission is $5 for adults. Kids under 12 and seniors (60+) are FREE. The Union Depot will also host The European Christmas Market for a 2 weekend event, December 1-3 and December 8-10. The market is based on the traditional and charming open air Christkindlmarkts that spring up in German, Austria and other countries during the Advent season. Shop for unique, handmade gifts and decorations from local vendors, drink Gluhwein and taste European-inspired food and delicacies.
The American Swedish Institute will host its Winter Solstice Celebration on December 21, 5 – 9 p.m. Enjoy bonfires and make Scandinavian-inspired S’mores, ride on a kicksled or play winter kubb.
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts to host Hello Winter on December 21, 6 – 9 p.m. The event is FREE and open to the public. Enjoy the latest exhibit “Eyewitness Views: Making History in 18th-Century Europe,” warm up with a seasonal cocktail, listen to live music, shop for last minutes gifts at the trunk show and take seasonable pictures (Christmas sweaters encouraged) in the faux-snow photo booth.