There are more than enough Twin Cities activities to keep your family busy this holiday season. From light displays to Christmas Tree Farms, performances to family outings – you’ll find something to entertain you and your kiddos and keep everyone in the holiday spirit!
***You may notice a few classic Twin Cities holiday events are missing – some of our favorites have yet to release their timing for the season, and we will be updating this list continuously as they do!
Prior Lake Downtown Dazzle: December 4th | 6-8:30pm Shops & Businesses will be Open till 9 p.m. Check them all out, enjoy specials, treats, and beverages along the way. Sing along with carolers, warm your fingers and toes by the bonfires. Food trucks and photo stations are also available as well as a parade, Santa, fireworks, free candy and more.
Sleigh Bells and Sparkles (Maple Grove): December 5th | 5pm Parade route runs north on Main Street downtown Maple Grove from the corner of Schuler Shoes to the Maple Grove Government Center. Culminating the end of the parade, please join Santa & Mrs. Claus as they magically light the holiday tree at the corner of Main Street and Arbor Lakes Parkway.
Anoka Christmas Tree Lighting: December 5th | 3-7pm Come and get into the spirit of the season at the Annual Anoka Christmas Tree Lighting Event. The event will be held in the City Hall Parking Lot Plaza in historic downtown Anoka. There will be bonfires, Santa will meet FREE with children, free horse drawn carriage rides are available and of course we’ll light up the tree. It’s a great event for the whole family!
Chanhassen Christmas Tree Lighting: December 5th | 5pm Don’t miss this annual Chanhassen celebration! The event is FREE for everyone and will be held at City Center Park (on the corner of West 78th Street and Market Boulevard). Come and enjoy the lighting of the holiday tree, refreshments, live reindeer, gingerbread house displays and, of course, a special visit from Santa Claus!
Night Trains at Twin Cities Railroad Museum (Bandana Square – St. Paul): Saturdays beginning November 7th | 6-9pm Night Trains Season comes to the dozens of model railroad layouts in a magical way, the lights are turned down, the buildings and street lights glow warmly, setting the scene for specially lighted models of vintage passenger trains. New this year, Night Trains will run every Saturday evening from 6:00 to 9:00 pm through the last Saturday in February (February 27, 2016). The make believe town of Matlin is buried in a blizzard, and throughout the Museum the layouts are adorned with miniature Christmas lights and decorations. Special appearances to be announced later this year! $10 for individuals, 4 and under FREE
Santa’s Arrival Cermony (Mall of America): Wednesday, November 11th | 6pm He’s coming! The holiday season officially kicks off at Mall of America with Santa’s Arrival Ceremony. Join Mall of America as Santa is greeted in grand holiday style with special performances. In honor of Veteran’s Day, we are partnering with Toys for Tots so please be sure to bring a toy to drop off for a child in need! Treats provided by Grandma’s Cookies.
Nordic Christmas Kick-off Family Day (American Swedish Institute): November 14th | 10am-5pm Be the first to see the historic Turnblad Mansion decorated for the holiday season. Explore the 2015 ASI Christmas Rooms theme: Myths, Legends and Fairytales. Discover Nordic holiday and wintertime traditions while meeting some of the clever tomtes and trolls that make Sweden and her neighbors such a magical place during this time of year. Activities include: gingerbread heart ornament making, troll storytelling, traditional troll slojd, Tomte and Troll bingo. Don’t miss the kick-off of the Great Tomte/Troll Hunt for kids of all ages throughout the mansion. Included with museum admission. Free for ASI members. No registration required.
Bachman’s Idea House: November 5th – December 13th | Times vary Each season, designers transform the historic Bachman’s home on Lyndale Avenue by repainting, refurnishing, and redecorating the entire house with their signature mix of new items, repurposed pieces, and a touch of vintage. Self-guided tours are sold in 30-minute increments. Tickets are $5, 12 & under free.
Christmas in the Village (Dakota City | Farmington): December 5th-13th | 1-8pm Saturdays & Sundays Visit our buildings that will be lit with lights inside and out throughout our village. Trolley rides are free with paid admission. Santa will be in the depot and Mrs. Santa will be in the village library to help children write letters to Santa. There will be cooking in the Harris House, Christmas trees in all the buildings, choirs and individuals providing holiday music in the church. $6.00 (13+), $3.00 (4-12) Free (3 & under), Trolley rides free with paid admission.
Santa & Albert’s Holiday Play (Bachman’s on Lyndale): Saturdays & Sundays | November 19 – December 18 | 11am, 12:30pm, 2pm A holiday tradition at Bachman’s for more than 20 years, guests of all ages are invited to enjoy these two professional storytellers in a brand new, lively, audience participation-filled play. Approximately 25-minutes long, each FREE show concludes with a carol sing-along and opportunities to get photos with Santa and Albert. (Bring your own camera.)
Wells Fargo Winter Skate (Rice Park St.Paul): November 21st – Fecruary 7th, 2016 Rice Park is all classic Christmas and is home to downtown St. Paul’s Christmas tree, and the whole park is draped with twinkling lights. Monday–Thursday: 11am–5pm, Friday–Saturday: 11a –10pm, Sunday: 11am–8pm FREE
Together We Make the Holidays (American Girl Store): Saturdays: November 21, December 5 & December 12 | Bistro Hours Design and decorate your own gingerbread house! This festive activity includes everything your girl needs to make a one-of-a-kind holiday centerpiece – gingerbread pieces, frosting, and lots of candy decorations. This event includes a meal together, too—and the opportunity to make great memories! Tickets are $38/person. Reservations required. For girls ages 8 and up. (more American Girl activities here)
Excelsior ChristKindlsmarkt: November 27th-29th The Excelsior Christkindlsmarkt is a three-day Christmas festival held annually in Excelsior, Minnesota. It is a celebration of the holiday season filled with activities for the whole family. The community celebrates together with a Grande Parade, open-air market featuring German Christmas traditions filled with delicious treats, traditional gifts and unique treasures.
Breakfast with Santa (Macy’s Restaurants): November 28th-December 19th | Times vary Celebrate the season with the big guy. Breakfast with Santa at mu.tliple Macy’s locations – times vary and some are already sold out. Don’t miss out on the fun!
Live Reindeer & Santa (Stillwater): November 28th 12pm-4pm Bring the kids to the Pedestrian Plaza in Historic Downtown Stillwater for a fun live reindeer experience! Bring your camera for a perfect holiday photo opportunity as Santa will be there, too. Then wander town and do a little low stress shopping and dining! Free.
Macy’s Downtown Santaland Display: Opens November 21st at 9am | Hours vary The classic Macy’s 8th floor display has been around for what seems like forever and is always a favorite. Santa Claus will make his annual appearance November 21st through December 24th to gather the holiday wish lists of children across the land. As guests make their way to meet Santa, they will experience the animated story of Santa’s elves at the North Pole as they prepare for Christmas. FREE
European Christmas Market (Union Depot, St. Paul): December 4th-6th & December 11th-13th | Times Vary The 2nd Annual European Christmas Market in St. Paul moves from West 7th Place to Union Depot this year for a two-weekend event. The market is based on the traditional, charming, and festive open air Christkindlmarkts that spring up in Germany, Austria, and other countries during the Advent season. This FREE family friendly event will be the place to shop for unique, handmade holiday gifts and decorations from local vendors and taste European inspired food and delicacies.
Grand Meander (Grand Avenue St. Paul): December 5th Head over to Grand Avenue for a fantastic day full of activities. Start with breakfast with Santa and meet one of his reindeer. Fire truck rides will be available between 10am and 11am. Soup tastings in the afternoon, free trolly Rides from 11am-3pm and more!
Twinkle Parade (Stillwater): December 5th | 4-6pm Meet at the Dock Cafe at 4PM and experience a fun celebration for kids with the kick off of the Teddy Bear Band performing before everyone marches in the parade along the river to the Lowell Park Gazebo and the tree lighting ceremony featuring Santa’s arrival on a fire truck, followed by fireworks. Free hot chocolate, cider, cookies and twinkle lights.
Santa Saturdays at the Minnesota Zoo: December 5th – 19th | 11:30am-1:30pm December is a great time to visit the Minnesota Zoo. If you’re looking for that perfect holiday photo, bring your family and camera to the Zoo on Saturday, December 5, 12, and 19 and meet Santa. He’ll be available for photos.
Sunken Gardens Holiday Flower Show (Como Zoo & Conservatory): December 5th – January 3rd The Holiday Flower Show tradition began in 1925 and continues to be the most anticipated and visited flower attraction at the Conservatory today. It is a visual sensation to behold featuring hundreds of poinsettias.
Stages Theatre Presents Charlie Brown Christmas (Toddler Tuesday at Mall of America): December 8th | 10am-Noon Join Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the whole Peanuts gang as they grapple with the real meaning of Christmas. With the music you love and remember come experience the warmth of the season in this cherished production. Shows at 10 a.m. & 11 a.m.
CP Holiday Train (various Twin Cities locations): Dates and Times vary The CP Holiday Train is on tour and has a few Twin Cities stops – see their schedule for details (US schedule to be updated soon!). The train is all decked out and is a traveling concert stage all in the name of collecting food for those in need, plus all contributions stay within your local community.
St. Anthony Village Carriage Rides: December 11th | 5:30pm-8:30pm This annual holiday event has even more to offer than in years past. Enjoy a trolley Ride from the Mall to See Santa at Autumn Woods and walk the luminarie path to The Legacy for some tasty treats in Mrs. Klaus’ Kitchen. Tour the lights of the city and then head back to the Shopping Center to enjoy all the merchants have to offer, then warm up by the fires in the parking lot and get your pictures taken with Santas visiting Reindeer!
North St. Paul Holiday Hop: December 12th | Begins at 9am Enjoy Town-Wide Sales with Treats and Refreshments, Children’s Pony Drawn Carriage Rides, Huge Drawings, Food Specials, Live Music, Book Signings, Gingerbread Decorating, Vintage Ornament Crafting, Wine Tastings, Story-Time and Face Painting. There is Something for Every Member of the Family.
Live Reindeer & Santa (Stillwater): December 7th-13th | 2-5pm Various activities beginning on Monday, December 7th. Start with an Outdoor Tree Lighting, swim and watch the Lego Movie during their Dive In Movie, meet and greet Santa himself at breakfast or during skating and enjoy a celebration. Don’t miss out!
North Pole Express Train (Union Depot, St. Paul): December 10th-13th| Times Vary Guests will enjoy the experience of a real steam train, Santa and his elves, and holiday fun for all. Tickets are $21.95 per adult and $17.95 per child (3 & younger are FREE). Your ticket to the North Pole Express includes: a one-mile train ride to the North Pole, where you will be greeted by Santa as he rides back to the Depot with you, greeting the children and handing out treats and goodies! Enjoy hot cocoa and other children’s activities. The train is heated, but dress for the weather. All cars will get the same experience.
Santa’s Workshop (Landmark Center, St. Paul): December 13th | 1pm Bring the kids to Landmark for a visit with Santa Claus at “Santa’s Workshop.” In addition to free pictures with Santa, families will be treated to a performance by the Heartbeat Studios Choir, and the kids can make gifts for family and friends at the “Make It & Take It” craft tables.
A Very Nickelodean Holiday (Toddler Tuesday at Mall of America): December 22nd | 10am-Noon Come celebrate the holiday season with your favorite Nickelodeon characters, SpongeBob and Patrick! They’re coming all the way from, Bikini Bottom to celebrate with their friends. Appearances will be at 10 – 10:30 and 11 – 11:30 a.m. Also, there will be fun activities to get you in the holiday spirit, including special holiday episode, story time and treats! Don’t forget to dress in your favorite holiday sweater!
Winter Solstice Celebration (American Swedish Institute): December 22nd | 3-8pm Enjoy bonfires and make Scandinavian-inspired S’mores in the Holiday Square, take a self-guided tour of the Turnblad Mansion’s holiday exhibits and FIKA will be open late for treats and glögg (Swedish mulled wine). The ASI Museum Store and Jul Shop (the holiday pop-up store) will be open late for last minute holiday gifts and decor. Included with museum admission (free for ASI members).
Ice Skating at Centennial Lakes: Opens mid-December | Times vary Complementing the rink is a cozy, rink-side warming house, complete with indoor and outdoor fireplaces, restrooms, concessions and skate rental. Concession items include hot chocolate, pop, popcorn, hot dogs, chips and candy. Skate rental is available for $6 per pair, with sizes ranging from children’s Size 8 up to adult Size 13. Ice sleds may also be rented for $7 per hour. There is no admission charge for skating. Concessions stand and skate rental hours are 4 to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 9:30 p.m. Sundays and most school holidays. Rink opens at Noon for those with their own skates.
Minnesota tree farmers are busy getting their farms ready for you and your families! We’ll keep this portion of the list updated with their most current information as they release it for the season.
Blackwoods Christmas Tree Farm (Stillwater): November 28th – December 14th 10am-5pm Cut-your-own or choose one from the beautiful old barns that are also filled with antiques, wreaths, swags and garland. Complimentary tree shaking, drilling and baling. Then sit down for a hot cup of cider and cookies around the campfire or in their warm and cozy barn. They also have a couple miles of beautiful trails and guests are welcome to take a hike or bring your skis or snowshoes for a great outdoor escape.
14435 30th Street North
Stillwater, Minnesota 55082
Covered Bridge Farm (Forest Lake): Friday-Sunday beginning Thanksgiving weekend | 9am-5pm They have at least six varieties of Balsam Fir, three varieties of Spruce, mostly Colorado, and several varieties of hybrid Fraser Fir crosses.
18655 Forest Blvd N
Forest Lake, MN 55025
Giffords Tree Farm (Lakeville): Sunday-Saturday | 10am-5pm
23240 Texas Ave
Lakeville, Minnesota 55044
Halley’s Tree Farm (Forest Lake): Opens November 27th | Weekends only 9am-5pm Free apple cider and free shaking. Cut and pre-cut trees, wreaths, stands, free disposal bag with tree purchase, baling $3.00.
17338 Lyons St NE
Forest Lake, MN 55025
Hansen Tree Farm (Anoka): Typically opens the Friday of Thanksgiving weekend | Fridays 1-6pm, Saturdays 9am-6pm, Sundays 10am-5pm Warm up in the barn and enjoy free hot cocoa, cider, coffee, tea. On weekends, savor Christmas sausage or hot dogs. Bring the kids & well behaved dogs. Hike or take a wagon ride and explore the playhouse.
7440 Alpine Drive NW
Ramsey, MN 55303
Krueger’s Christmas Trees (Lake Elmo): Opens November 21st | Monday-Thursday,12-9pm & Friday-Sunday, 9am-9pm While you are at the farm, take a wagon ride through our fields, go for a nature walk through the woods, drink some hot cider in the warming house or by the campfire, visit with Santa, or find a spot for the perfect family Christmas card!
Log Cabin Pines Christmas Tree Farm: Beginning November 27th | Times vary Log Cabin Log Cabin Pines has cut your own Balsam and Canaan Fir trees available. We also offer fresh precut Balsam and Fraser Fir. They carry wreaths, tree stands, tree bags & preservative. Tree shaking and baling of your tree is available on site.
6345 E. 240th Street
Elko, MN 55020
Revak Nursery (Lakeville): Beginning November 21st | Weekends & Black Friday 9am-6pm, Weekdays 2pm-8pm
24066 Pillsbury Ave.
Lakeville, MN 55044
Revak Nursery (Elko/New Market): Beginning November 27th | Weekends & Black Friday 9am-6pm
6291 E. 240th St.
Elko, MN 55020
A Christmas Carol (The Guthrie): November 12th – December 27th | Performance Times vary This year marks the 41st annual production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, an annual favorite at the Guthrie that impresses every year!
A Charlie Brown Christmas (Stages Theater): November 20th – December 29th | Performance times vary Join Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the whole Peanuts gang as they grapple with the real meaning of Christmas. If you loved Rudolph, than you will adore celebrating the 50th Anniversary of this classic animated television special as it rings to life on our main stage. With the music you love and remember come experience the warmth of the season in this cherished production.
The Sound of Music (Ordway): December 10th 29th – January 2nd | Times vary This holiday season, the Ordway is alive with the sounds of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s beloved musical classic. Full of iconic songs such as “My Favorite Things,” “Do Re Mi,” and “Edelweiss,” the timeless story of Maria and the musical von Trapp family is a blockbuster family event you won’t want to miss!
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (Steppingstone Theater): December 4th – December 23rd | Performance times vary The first play that SteppingStone Theatre produced is back again! Revel in the yuletide chaos as baby angels, church ladies, firefighters, the Bradleys, and even the Herdmans discover the true meaning of Christmas.
Moscow’s Ballet Great Russian Nutcracker (Orpheum Theater): December 5th | 3:00pm Featuring spectacular sets and beautifully costumed Russian dancers, Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker is an annual treat for the whole family. Whimsical and imaginative storytelling blends with the richness of Russian classical dance to make this particular Nutcracker a unique holiday treat not to be missed!
Disney on Ice presents Dare to Dream (Xcel Energy Center): December 10th-13th | Times vary Join your hosts Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse for a princess-packed adventure. Laugh along with Disney’s hair-raising escapade, Tangled, as Rapunzel, Flynn and Maximus embark on an uproarious journey that takes adventure to new lengths! Travel to the enchanted forest with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as she escapes from the Evil Queen in her search for her one true love. Dreams become reality as Cinderella meets her Prince Charming, with a glass slipper fit for an unforgettable fantasy come true. Boogie to the beat of the bayou with Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen from Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, in a magical, musical journey that begins with a fateful kiss.
A Minnesota Nutcracker (Burnsville – Ames Center): December 11th-13th | Times vary This year, enjoy the magic of the beloved classic with a Minnesota twist! This fresh rendition retains the familiar traditions loved by so many, but adds new Minnesota settings and all new Minnesota-centric backdrops. Accompanied by the iconic Tchaikovsky music, Clara, Drosselmeyer, and Guests dance and dream from historic Rice Park and Summit Avenue in St. Paul, to the snowy banks of the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, to the magnificent palace of the Sugar Plum Fairy.
Michael W. Smith & Amy Grant Christmas (Target Center): December 12th | 7pm Celebrate the magic of the season with Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant as they perform all of your favorite Christmas and holiday songs accompanied by a full symphony orchestra.
Academy of Russian Ballet Presents The Nutcracker (Eden Prairie High School): December 18th-20th | Times vary Ballet soloists perform in Traditional full-length “The Nutcracker” set to Tchaikovsky’s timeless music performance is faithful to the original enduring Marius Petipa choreography and authentically Russian classical version of the Holiday Fairytale performed by Academy of Russian Ballet dancers.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra (Xcel Energy Center): December 30th | 3pm & 7:30pm Fans of the rock operas will still be sated, as the 2015 Winter Tour is based on TSO’s multi-platinum DVD and long running PBS fundraiser, “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve.” This enchanting story follows the journey of a young runaway who breaks into an abandoned vaudeville theater seeking shelter from the cold, and the ghostly visions she experiences from that concert hall’s past.
Comfort and Joy – Jim Brickman Holiday Tour (Burnsville – Ames Center): December 30th 7:30pm On his 19th holiday tour, with featured musical guests, feelings of comfort and joy are fused together with Jim’s most beloved hits like “Valentine,” “If You Believe,” “The Gift,” “Angel Eyes” and “Sending You A Little Christmas.” You’ll be reminded of what we cherish during the most wonderful time of the year. Togetherness.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra (Xcel Energy Center): December 31st | 7pm Stand-up from one of Minnesota’s own in Burnsville – ring in the new year with Louie Anderson!