2016 Twin Cities Holiday Events Guide


It’s the most wonderful time of the year- and we want to help you celebrate! Whether you bundle up your family for a day of ice skating or you sit and enjoy the sounds of carols at a holiday show, we hope that these events help you to truly enjoy the wonder of this season!

We will continue to add to this list as new events are announced!

  • Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony (Shoreview)November 14th | 6pm  This annual community event will again feature caroling from the Turtle Lake Elementary School choir, followed by the lighting of the trees outside of the Shoreview Community Center. Refreshments will be served after the ceremony.
  • Holiday Lights in the Park (Lake Phalen, St. Paul): November 22nd – January 1st | 5:00-10pm nightly   Minnesota’s largest drive-through lights display wraps around Lake Phalen in St. Paul with more than 60 larger than life holiday light sculptures and animated displays.  Tickets are $10 dollars per vehicle.
  • Winter Lighting Ceremony (Nicollet Commons Park – Burnsville)November 23rd | 6pm  Burnsville’s Heart of the City will once again shine with holiday lights this winter season when the area is set aglow during the community’s 18th-Annual Winter Lighting Ceremony. You’re invited to attend the ceremony, stroll through the lights, visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, enjoy entertainment, hot beverages, hot sandwiches, plus free cookies and candy canes.
  • Tree Lighting Ceremony (50th and France – Edina)November 26th | 3-5pm  Enjoy browsing local businesses and the sounds of carolers leading up to the grand tree lighting with City of Edina Mayor Jim Hovland at 5:00 p.m. New this year, the Holiday Market from 12-5pm will feature local artisans in the walkway between The Optical and Breadsmith.
  • Anoka Christmas Tree LightingDecember 3rd | 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!
  • City of Inver Grove Heights Outdoor Tree Lighting & Open SwimTuesday, Dec. 6 | 6 pm Come see the holiday tree be lit at 6pm. We’ll also have open swim until 8:30 pm that evening and refreshments. Event is free and open to the public at the Veterans Memorial Community Center. 
  • Rice Park Tree Lighting (St. Paul)Saturday, November 19th Rice Park powered by Xcel Energy captures the spirit of the holiday season with a tree as tall and bright as the iconic Rockefeller Center tree in New York City. The gigantic tree in Rice Park will be lit seven days a week. Make downtown Saint Paul your family holiday destination and enjoy the beauty of Rice Park as it sparkles with thousands of twinkling lights! The festive tree will be up through January 1, 2017. The other lights will stay up and illuminate the park through the end of the Winter Carnival.
  • Holidazzle VillageThursdays-Sundays | November 25th – December 23rd | Holidazzle Village, located once again in Loring Park, is free to the public and will give a fresh feel to the Holidazzle experience. The Holidazzle Village will include a variety of entertainment opportunities and festivities for all ages to enjoy throughout the season. Highlights include food, beverages, entertainment, specialty retailers, ice skating, outdoor movies and more!
  • Prior Lake DecemBRRR DazzleDecember 2nd | 6-8:30pm  Head to Lakefront Park for an evening of holiday fun with Santa and his reindeer (photo op provided!) and many other fun activities. 
  • Night Trains at Twin Cities Railroad Museum (St. Paul)Saturdays beginning November 5th | 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. Night Trains will run every Saturday evening from 6:00 to 9:00 pm through the last Saturday in February (February 25, 2017). 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. $15 for individuals, 4 and under FREE.
  • Bachman’s Idea HouseNovember 10th – December 18th | 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 3rd, 4th, 10th, 11th| 1-8pm Saturdays & Sundays A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens will be the theme throughout the village this year. The horse-drawn trolley will transport you through the village streets as you explore the traditions of Christmas 1900s style. Join in the caroling, warm yourself by an inviting wood-burning stove, delight in the demonstrations of woodworking and holiday cooking as our villagers prepare for Christmas. As a special treat, a presentation of A Christmas Carol will be featured in the Fire Hall by Children’s Castle Theater. Before you leave, don’t forget to visit St. Nicholas! $6.00 (13+), $3.00 (4-12) Free (3 & under), Trolley rides free with paid admission.
  • Excelsior ChristKindlsmarktNovember 25th-27th  The Excelsior Christkindlsmarkt is a three-day Christmas festival held annually in Excelsior, Minnesota. Features include the Grande Parade, open-air market, delicious treats, traditional gifts, and a beer garden. Kinderworld is a must for kids which includes puppet shows, storytelling, music, and activities. 
  • Grand Meander (Grand Avenue St. Paul)December 3rd  Head over to Grand Avenue for a fantastic day full of activities.  Start with breakfast with Santa, then visit his reindeer, see fire trucks, listen to carolers, and more. Soup tastings and free trolley rides round out the afternoon. FREE!
  • Nordic Julemarket: November 26th Inspired by Christmas traditions throughout the Nordic Countries, the Norwegian-American Chamber of Commerce – Upper Midwest Chapter is proud and excited to present the First Annual Nordic Julemarket. Nordic Julemarket encourages people of all ages and communities to participate and attend – it’ll be great fun for the whole family, and best of all, it’s all free!
  • CP Holiday Train with perfomers Colin James & Kelly PrescottDecember 9th | 7:15-8:30 The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train will stop at historic Union Depot on Friday evening, December 9, for a musical performance. Attendees are encouraged to bring healthy food donations to benefit Merrick Community Services Food Shelf. Canadian Pacific is committed to raising awareness about the need to fill community food shelves with heart-healthy foods.This free event will start at 7:15 p.m. when the brightly lit train rolls in the station and Canadian Pacific representatives and Rafael Ortega, Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority, welcome visitors followed by a performance by Colin James and Kelly Prescott.
  • Blackwoods Christmas Tree Farm (Stillwater)November 25th – December 18th  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
    (651) 464-0735
  • Giffords Tree Farm (Lakeville):  Sunday-Saturday | 10am-5pm
    23240 Texas Ave
    Lakeville, Minnesota 55044
    (952) 461-3717
  • Hansen Tree Farm (Anoka): Opens Saturday Nov. 19th | Fridays 10am-5pm, 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
    (651) 247-1952
  • Krueger’s Christmas Trees (Lake Elmo)Opens November 19th | Monday-Thursday 12-8pm,
    Friday-Sunday 9am-8pm
     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! 10970 43rd Street North, Lake Elmo, MN 55042
  • Log Cabin Pines Christmas Tree Farm:  Beginning the day after Thanksgiving | 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
    (952) 461-2448
  • Revak Nursery (Lakeville)Beginning November 19th | Weekends & Black Friday 9am-6pm, Weekdays 2pm-8pm
    24066 Pillsbury Ave.
    Lakeville, MN 55044
  • Revak Nursery (Elko/New Market)Beginning November 25th | Open November 25th, 26th, 27th, December 3rd, 4th, 10th, 11th: 9am to 5pm
    6291 E. 240th St.
    Elko, MN 55020
  • Rum River Tree Farm9am – 4:30pm, pre-cut lot open until 7pm 21050 Lake George Blvd, Oak Grove, MN 55303 First two weekends only include free pony rides, hayrides, visits with Santa, coloring books and candy canes! Come out Nov 27, 28, 29 and Dec 5, 6 from 10am to 4:30pm to enjoy these festivities. 
  • Hampton Hills Tree Farm9am – 4:30pm, pre-cut lot open until 5pm 998 310th St Way, Randolph, MN 55065 First two weekends only include free pony rides, hayrides, visits with Santa, coloring books and candy canes! Come out Nov 27, 28, 29 and Dec 5, 6 from 10am to 4:30pm to enjoy these festivities. 
  • Santa & Albert’s Annual Holiday Play “Santa & Albert Rock Christmas” (Bachman’s on Lyndale)Saturdays & Sundays | November 19 – December 18 | Saturday: 10, 11:30, 1, 2:30 & Sunday: 11:30, 1, 2:30  Albert the Elf is “All Shook Up” with excitement when he receives a letter – he’s won a chance to meet his musical hero, Elfus! As his #1 fan, Albert can’t wait. But Rudolph has a problem and “It’s Now or Never”, and the only person who can fix it is Albert! But that might mean missing out on meeting his hero… Will Albert have a “Blue Christmas” or a “Happy Ending” at the North Pole? This annual all-new holiday play has been a Bachman’s tradition for 30 years. It’s free to attend and great fun for families. All ages are welcome. Guests are encouraged to participate in a sing-a-long of holiday carols at the end, and stay to take pictures with Santa and Albert. (Bring your own camera. Play lasts approximately 20 minutes. Seating is first come, first serve.)
  • Toddler Tuesday at MOA: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer- The Musical: Tuesday, Dec 6th | 10:00am  Come celebrate the spirit of the holidays with this timeless tale of misfits, elves, an abominable snow monster and a whole lot of Holly Jolly good fun. This enchanting musical, based on the classic television special by Rankin and Bass, features all the characters and songs you love, and will inspire you to sing along with glee! Performances at 10 & 11 a.m.
  • A Christmas Carol (The Guthrie): November 16th – December 30th | Performance Times vary  This year marks the 42nd annual production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, an annual favorite at the Guthrie that impresses every year!
  • Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (Stages Theater)November 18th – December 28th | Performance times vary  Rudolph and friends fly back onto our stage this Holiday Season for an encore production of this audience favorite. Come celebrate the spirit of the holidays with this timeless tale of misfits, elves, an abominable snow monster and a whole lot of Holly Jolly good fun. This enchanting musical, based on the classic television special features all the characters and songs you love, and will inspire you to sing along with glee!
  • Irving Berlin’s White Christmas (Ordway)December 8th – December 31st | Times vary  Based on the timeless film which starred Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera Ellen, this sparkling musical will dazzle you with big dance numbers and the unforgettable songs of Russian-Jewish immigrant, Izzy Baline, better known as Irving Berlin. You’ll hear songs like “Blue Skies”, “I Love A Piano”, “How Deep Is the Ocean”, and of course, the perennial favorite, “White Christmas”.  And inside the theater, there will be lots and lots of snow!
  • The Best Christmas Pageant Ever! (Steppingstone Theater)December 2nd – 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): November 26th | 3:00 & 7:00pm  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 Passport to Adventure (Xcel Energy Center) December 1st-4th | Times vary Join Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald, Goofy and Daisy on a journey to the timeless worlds of Disney’s The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Peter Pan, and Disney’s Frozen. You and your family will explore the African Pride Lands with Simba, Timon and Pumbaa, voyage deep under the sea to Ariel’s mystical underwater kingdom and tour London with Peter Pan and Wendy before flying to Neverland to meet up with Tinker Bell. Plus, travel to Arendelle for an extraordinary adventure with sisters Anna and Elsa, rugged mountain man Kristoff and everyone’s favorite huggable snowman Olaf, as they journey to discover that true love is the most magical power of all. Upbeat music, lovable characters and unforgettable moments make Disney On Ice presents Passport to Adventure an experience your family will cherish forever!
  • A Minnesota Nutcracker (Burnsville – Ames Center)December 9-11th | Times vary  Enjoy the beloved holiday classic with a Minnesota twist!  Twin Cities Ballet’s original A Minnesota Nutcracker is a cherished holiday tradition for thousands, and one of the most-attended holiday dance events in the Twin Cities.  While retaining all the magic and familiar traditions loved by so many, A Minnesota Nutcracker adds local flare with Minnesota settings and custom designed 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.  A Minnesota Nutcracker promises delightful entertainment for the whole family, from ballet novices to loyal patrons alike. 
  • Michael W. Smith & Amy Grant Christmas (Target Center)December 10th | 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 16th-18th | Times vary  The Academy of Russian Ballet presents its Fifteenth Annual dance production of The Nutcracker classical Ballet in the Minneapolis area. This authentically Russian classical version of the holiday Fairytale is performed by Academy of Russian Ballet dancers. Academy of Russian Ballet Nutcracker performance is faithful to the original enduring Marius Petipa choreography.
  • Trans-Siberian Orchestra (Xcel Energy Center)December 10th | 3:30pm & 8:00pm Debuted last year to rave critical and fan reviews, and based on TSO’s multi-platinum DVD and long running PBS fundraiser, “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve,” follows the journey of a runaway who breaks into an abandoned vaudeville theater on December 24th. While seeking shelter from the cold, the teen is discovered by the theater’s caretaker who uses the ghosts and spirits from the building’s past to turn her life around. The rock opera features such enduring fan-favorites as “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24,” “O’ Come All Ye Faithful,” “Good King Joy,” “Christmas Canon,” “Music Box Blues,” “Promises To Keep” and “This Christmas Day.” 2016’s tour will see an all new second set containing some of TSO’s greatest hits and fan-pleasers.
  • Comfort and Joy – Jim Brickman Holiday Tour (Burnsville – Ames Center)December 29th 7:30pm  Piano sensation Jim Brickman brings you songs, sounds and stories of the season with Comfort & Joy, the 2016 Holiday tour. Billboard Magazine praises Brickman who “makes musical magic” as he celebrates his 20-year Christmas concert tradition. He combines yuletide memories with holiday classics and modern favorites! Jim Brickman’s music reminds us that faith, love and togetherness are what we value most this time of year.
  • Louis Anderson Live New Years Eve (Burnsville – Ames Center): December 31st | 7pm  Stand-up from one of Minnesota’s own in Burnsville – ring in the new year with Louie Anderson!


  • Twin Cities Moms Blog presents Donuts with Santa (Pacifier – North Loop)Saturday, December 3rd | 9:00-10:30 or 11:00-12:30 Tickets include donuts from Bogart’s Donuts and coffee from City Girl Coffee, story time with Santa and Mrs. Claus, one professional photo per family with Santa and Mrs. Claus (to be received digitally following the event), cookie decorating, a visit from ice princesses, and crafts! Must have purchase ticket to attend. *SOLD OUT*
  • Breakfast or Lunch with Santa (Maple Grove): Saturday, December 3rd | 8:30-10:30 or 11:00am-1:00pm  Dine with Santa either morning or afternoon! Santa and Mrs. Claus will greet you with crafts and games. Must register, no walk ins allowed. Breakfast is $4 and lunch is $6. 
  • Santa’s Arrival Ceremony (Mall of America): Tbursday, November 10th | 5:30pm   He’s coming! You better watch out, you better not cry, you better come out, we’re telling you why: Santa is arriving at Mall of America® to officially kick off the holiday season! Don’t miss the fun as Santa is greeted in grand holiday style with reindeer, special circus performers, children’s activities and treats provided by Nestle Toll House. Stick around as Santa lights up the Atrium with snowflakes! Be sure to bring your coats and mittens as Santa’s grand arrival will be outdoors this year!
  • Breakfast with Santa (Macy’s Restaurants)November 27th-December 18th | Times vary. Celebrate the season with the big guy! Breakfast with Santa at multiple locations including the Minneapolis Skyroom, Southdale Lakeshore Grill, and Ridgedale Lakeshore Grill. Tickets go on sale Sunday, November 13th at noon.
  • Live Reindeer & Santa (Stillwater)November 26th, December 10th, December 17th, December 31st 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! Live reindeer are just one of the many holiday traditions downtown Stillwater as part of the month-long Hometown for the Holidays event from Shop Small Saturday to New Year’s Eve.
  • Macy’s Downtown Santaland DisplayOpens November 19th 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 19th 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!
  • Santa Saturdays at the Minnesota ZooDecember 3rd, 10th, 17th | 11:30am-1:00pm  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!
  • Santa’s Workshop (Landmark Center, St. Paul)December 11th | 1pm   Bring the kids to Landmark for a visit with Santa Claus at “Santa’s Workshop.” Free pictures with Santa!
  • Santa at Pahl’s Market (Apple Valley)November 18th-20th | Times vary Book your appointment online for “Magical Portraits with Santa” sessions at Pahl’s Market, November 18, 19, and 20. A $10 donation to the Lewis House or a donation of a toy for Toys For Tots is encouraged but not required, and the session is free. Anyone leaving a donation will receive a $10 credit towards their order as a thank you. 
  • Breakfast with Santa/Candy Cane Hunt (Inver Grove Heights)Saturday, Dec. 10 Santa is coming for breakfast in Inver Grove Heights! Families will enjoy a light breakfast (donuts, muffins, juice and coffee), visit with Santa, crafts, games, a selfie booth, reindeer rides, candy cane hunt and participate in a toy raffle. In order to be eligible for the raffle, participants must bring a pair of mittens or gloves to donate. Two sessions are available: 8:30-10 am or 10:30 am-12 pm. Cost is $5 in advance or $7 at the door. 
  • 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. A photo identification must be given as a deposit for all rentals. There is no admission charge for skating. 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. A photo identification must be given as a deposit for all rentals. 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. Please note that although concessions and rentals do not open until 4 p.m. on weekdays, the skating rink does open at noon to accommodate those with their own skates.
  • Wells Fargo Winter Skate (Rice Park St.Paul): Opens Saturday, November 19th  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
  • The Depot Ice Rink (Minneapolis)Opens Thanksgiving Day | Hours vary It’s fun, it’s romantic, and warm in the winter. Named one of the top places in North America to ice skate by Today.com, Fodor’s Travel, USA Today and MSNBC, The Depot Rink is an historic downtown Minneapolis train shed that now houses a modern-day, indoor skating rink with floor-to-ceiling glass walls providing a great view of the city skyline. The Depot Rink concessions stand serves a variety of hot snacks such as pizza, panini, hot soup, chili, nachos and much more. Pair a snack with a glass of wine, a locally crafted ale or hot chocolate. 
  • Skating at Southdale Mall (Edina)Opens Saturday, November 19th | Hours vary The ice rink, which is free to the public, is located in the parking lot near the Edina water tower on the corner of France Avenue and 69thStreet. The rink will be open during mall hours through February 19.
  • Central Park Skating Loop (Maple Grove)Opening day depends on weather Huge outdoor skating loop at Central Park!  Free. 
  • Skate with Santa (Inver Grove): Saturday, Dec. 10 | 6-7:30pm $5 per person in advance; $7 at the door, Register by Friday, Dec. 2 Ho! Ho! Ho! Santa is coming to visit the Community Center on skates!  Skate around the ice with Santa and your family.  Come dressed in red or green and you will get a special holiday prize.  Hot beverage and snacks will be provided.
  • Holiday Skate with Santa (Farmington): Sunday, Dec. 11th | 1:30-3:00pm Games, prizes, and of course Santa. All Ages Welcome. FREE with a food shelf donation.
  • Skate with Santa (Richfield): Sunday, Dec. 18th | 3:30-5pm Photo ops with Santa, treats, and hot chocolate! Bring your camera! $4 a person, $1.50 for skate rental.

One Response to 2016 Twin Cities Holiday Events Guide

  1. Tara November 15, 2016 at 10:04 AM #

    Arli-Dazzle is on December 3rd! “Probably the largest lighted parade in MN!”
    Get there early to get a good viewing spot!

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