2018 Guide to the Minneapolis Aquatennial

Our partners at the mpls downtown council are here with everything you need to know about The Aquatennial! Get a full run-down of all the events and mark your calendars - you won't want to miss the biggest event of the summer in Minneapolis!
Aquatennial

Aquatennial is back! We invite you to join in on the fun!

The Minneapolis Aquatennial is the official civic celebration of the City of Minneapolis. Minnesota residents, workers and visitors have come to love and appreciate all that Minneapolis has to offer during the Aquatennial. We invite you to join in the celebration and enjoy the Aquatennial when it returns July 18-21!

The Aquatennial features more than two dozen events in four days. They are located on or nearby the Mississippi Riverfront in downtown, celebrating along the banks where our city was born. The close proximity in a jam-packed four-day period offers a walkable and bike-able experience to several different events while you’re there.

The 2018 Aquatennial is book-ended by its two flagship events: The CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade on Wednesday, July 18 (8:30-10:30 pm) and the Target Fireworks on Saturday, July 21 (10 pm). In between, you’ll find fun activities and events for all ages and abilities to enjoy. For more information, visit www.aquatennial.com/events.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 18

Aquatennial Blood Drive* | IDS Center Crystal Court 9:00AM – 3:00PM

Go Outside with Hennepin County Lunch Time Activities* | Hennepin County Government Center South Plaza, 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM

Loring Park Pre-Parade Family Fun Night | Loring Park, 6:00 PM – 8:30 PM

USTA Northern Rally the Family Tennis Lessons | Loring Park, 6:00 PM – 8:30 PM

Wilderness Inquiry Voyageur Canoe Rides | Loring Park, 6:00 PM – 8:30 PM

Life Time Torchlight 5K | Hennepin Avenue beginning at Basilica of Saint Mary, 7:30 PM

CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade | Hennepin Avenue from Basilica of Saint Mary to 5th St, 8:30 PM

 

THURSDAY, JULY 19

Nicollet Farmers Market | Nicollet from 6th to 9th Streets, 6:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Aquatennial Blood Drive* | IDS Center Crystal Court, 9:00AM – 3:00PM

Go Outside with Hennepin County Piano Performance | Hennepin County Government Center South Plaza, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

JB Hudson Family Fun Fest | JB Hudson Jewelers, 3:00PM-7:00PM

CorePower Yoga | Father Hennepin Bluff Park, 6:00 pm yoga, 7:00 pm Guided Meditation Hike through Hennepin Island Trail

Twin Cities River Rats Water Ski Show* | Mississippi River, West River Road (between Broadway & Plymouth Ave S) 7:00 PM

 

FRIDAY, JULY 20

Aquatennial Blood Drive* | IDS Center Crystal Court, 9:00AM – 3:00PM

Alchemy 365 at Aquatennial | Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, 5:30 PM

Aquatennial’s Fulton Downtown Thunderdome (Bike Race) | Fulton Tap Room & North Loop Streets, 4:30 PM – 9:15 PM

Twin Cities River Rats Water Ski Show* | Mississippi River, West River Road (between Broadway & Plymouth Aves) 7:00 PM

 

SATURDAY, JULY 21

National Parks Service Picnic & Lock Tours | St. Anthony Falls Lock & Dam, 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM

CorePower Yoga | Boom Island, TBD

Aquatennial Skyline Fest | Boom Island, 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Wilderness Inquiry Voyageur Canoe Rides on the Mississippi River | Boom Island, 11:00 AM – 5:00PM

AquaJam Best Trick | Guthrie Theater parking lot, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Aquatennial Ambassador Organization Coronation | Ted Mann Concert Hall, U of M, 4:00 PM

Pre-Fireworks Festivities (Kids zone, live music, food trucks & more) | West River Parkway near Portland Ave, 6:00 PM – 10:00 PM

Target Fireworks | West River Parkway near Portland Ave, 10:00 PM

* — events repeat on multiple days

2018 Aquatennial Guide | Twin Cities Moms Blog

Join us for the Aquatennial’s CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade set to take place Wednesday, July 18 at 8:30 p.m. Join the community as they gather and watch great floats, displays and bands march through the heart of Downtown Minneapolis. This is CenterPoint Energy’s 18th year being part of the Aquatennial and sponsoring the CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade. This year’s parade will again feature K102’s Chris Carr & Company morning show as the emcees, providing entertaining commentary throughout the night. Come down and celebrate on July 18!

If you have any questions about this year’s parade, email [email protected]

ABOUT THE CENTERPOINT ENERGY TORCHLIGHT PARADE

The Minneapolis Aquatennial CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade has been a longstanding Aquatennial tradition. As a flagship Aquatennial event, the parade continues to grow. The CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade is the largest nighttime parade in Minnesota. We’re excited to see you at this year’s event!

HOW TO GET HERE

Join us for the CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade, located on Hennepin Avenue between the Basilica of St. Mary and 5th Street N. Find a spot along Hennepin Avenue and enjoy the parade!

Parking garages are located on both sides of Hennepin Avenue, and Metro Transit services the area through Light Rail Transit (Green Line to and from St. Paul, Blue Line to and from MSP International Airport/Mall of America) as well as bus routes connecting across the metro area.

  • Get to the CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade for FREE courtesy of Metro Transit with a Free Ride Pass. Print the pass at aquatennial.com/torchlightparade and ride for free from 4 pm-midnight on Wednesday, July 18.

2018 Aquatennial Guide | Twin Cities Moms Blog

Join us for the Target Fireworks—a top five fireworks display in the nation—set to take place Saturday, July 21, 2018 at 10 pm! Watch the Target Fireworks light up the Minneapolis sky! Come early for Aquatennial Pre-Fireworks Festivities beginning at 6 pm and enjoy food trucks, your favorite festival treats, live music and much more.

Viewing Tips

Come early to get your viewing spot—bring sunscreen for the afternoon and bug spray for the evening. The best spots are between Gold Medal Park and the 3rd Avenue Bridge on West River Parkway. It’s not unusual for people to begin staking out their spots along the Mississippi Riverfront in the morning, so to ensure your best viewing location be sure to head downtown with time to spare!

Part of the experience is enjoying the music that accompanies the Target Fireworks, which are choreographed and synced together. Tune into Go 96.3 FM and enjoy the pyro-musical set to the Target Fireworks display! Learn more about the Target Fireworks below in our “Fast Facts.”

While you’re waiting for the Target Fireworks and the pre-fireworks festivities to begin, don’t miss out on other Aquatennial events that are taking place along the Mississippi Riverfront. The Aquatennial Skyline Fest—a new event featuring stand-up paddleboard races and canoe rides on the Mississippi River—is approximately 1.5 miles up the road, a leisurely walk or bike ride away. Take a stroll and enjoy an afternoon out and about in Minneapolis while enjoying multiple Aquatennial events!

While you’re there

Enjoy a show, tour or walk on the Endless Bridge at the Guthrie Theater, learn about Minneapolis’ history at the Mill City Museum, enjoy a morning at the Mill City Farmers Market or a leisurely afternoon at Gold Medal Park. Stop by Stone Arch Bridge and see some of the best views of our downtown skyline. Stop by and see U.S. Bank Stadium up close, which is now complete.

Pre-Fireworks Festivities from 6 pm-10 pm always have a great lineup. Check back as we get closer to July 2018 for the full lineup for this year’s event from 6-10 pm, headlined by The Grateful Red big band performance at 9 pm. The pre-fireworks festivities also include:

  • Food Trucks
  • Kids Zone
  • And More!

Arriving

The Target Fireworks optimal viewing area is just blocks away from the METRO Light Rail U.S. Bank Stadium station in East Town, which services both the Blue Line from Bloomington and the Green Line from St. Paul. There are also surface and ramp parking locations located off 2nd Street, 4th Street and Chicago Avenue. You can also enjoy Nice Ride bikes located at convenient stations around the downtown area. Click Here to find the the most convenient Nice Ride station.

  • Get to the Target Fireworks for FREE courtesy of Metro Transit with a Free Ride Pass. Print the pass at aquatennial.com/fireworks and ride for free from 4 pm-midnight on Saturday, July 21.

Target Fireworks Fast Facts

  • Typically uses more than 10,000 pounds of explosives
  • The Choreography process for the Target Fireworks takes anywhere from 2 to 4 hours of design time per minute of total show duration
  • One of the top five largest fireworks show in the country
  • Draws around 250,000 spectators to Downtown Minneapolis
  • Come early to find a spot along the river—bring sunscreen for the afternoon and bug spray for the evening. It’s worth it to see a fantastic show!
  • One of the best vantage points to take in the show is on the west side of the Mississippi River, along West River Parkway near Portland Avenue.
  • Zambelli Fireworks is a full service fireworks display and pyrotechnics company.
  • Since 1893 Zambelli Fireworks has been shooting over 2,300 displays annually

Aquatennial Skipper Pins & Promotions

2018 Aquatennial Guide | Twin Cities Moms Blog

Each year, the Aquatennial sells Skipper Pins not only to commemorate the year but also to provide promotions and deals to local businesses throughout the downtown area. This year between July 1-July 21, you can enjoy freebies and promotions and a collection of downtown locations by showing your Skipper Pins. The Skipper Pin is $5 and can be purchased at Aquatennial.com. For more information on Skipper Pin promotions, please visit www.aquatennial.com/participate.

Loring Park Pre-Parade Family Fun Night

2018 Aquatn

Loring Park Family Fun Night is a family focused event held just blocks from the CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade. Featuring food trucks, free Wilderness Inquiry Voyageur Canoe Rides, free tennis lessons with USTA Northern, plus pony rides, inflatables, kids dance party and carnival games. Find your seat for the parade and bring the family down for some fun! Stop by Loring Park from 6-8:30 pm and enjoy an evening in the park.

Watch some high-flying waterskiing on the Mississippi

2018 Aquatennial Guide | Twin Cities Moms Blog

The Twin Cities River Rats are back for another year of incredible high-flying stunts, fast-paced barefooting, graceful swivel skiing, and even human pyramids on the water. Bring beach towels or lawn chairs and enjoy this free water ski show for the whole family along the banks of the Mississippi River – located just south of the Broadway Bridge. The River Rats will be doing shows at 7 pm on Thursday, July 19 and 7 pm on Friday, July 20.

This year’s show: The Little Ratscalls

These Little Ratscalls are always up to no good! The Nationally Ranked Twin Cities River Rats Water Ski Show Team are an exciting blend of water skiing, acrobatics and high speed thrills! Join Alfalfa, Darla, and Spanky as they get ready for the big summer water ski derby, battling off bullies and cooties along the way! Will their high flying jumps, careful balancing acts and barefoot tricks be enough to win the derby? Check our schedule online and join us for a free family show to find out! Right on the Mississippi river between the Broadway and Plymouth Avenue bridges.

AquaJam

2018 Aquatennial Guide | Twin Cities Moms Blog

An Aquatennial classic event is back! Join us for AquaJam, a legacy event that was a popular Aquatennial destination during the 1980s. This year’s event is taking place at the Guthrie Theater’s parking lot, equidistant from the Target Fireworks/pre-fireworks festivities and X Games at U.S. Bank Stadium. Stop by this free event and watch local skateboarders take part in a Best Trick Contest on new obstacles!

2018 Aquatennial Guide | Twin Cities Moms Blog

There are several ways to stay fit at Aquatennial! On Wednesday night, you can take part in the Life Time Torchlight 5K, which includes a run down Hennepin Avenue and along the Mississippi Riverfront and culminates with a race after party featuring music and complimentary refreshments. The race starts at 7:30 pm and runs down the same street as the CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade, so if you aren’t a runner but would like to cheer them on find your spot along Hennepin early and stay for the parade.

On Thursday, enjoy a free outing with CorePower Yoga. Join us at Father Hennepin Bluff Park (420 SE Main Street) for yoga at 6 pm, then enjoy a Guided Meditation Hike through Hennepin Island trail at 7 pm. We’ll end in a gratitude practice along the river at the end of the bluff trail facing the Stone Arch Bridge.

On Friday, stop by the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden from 5:30-6:30 pm and enjoy an Alchemy 365 at Aquatennial fitness class. This class is free and open to all abilities, and it offers a unique chance to take a fitness class next to the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry. Check-in begins at 4:30 pm. No pre-registration required, come early to reserve your spot.

On Saturday, Skyline Fest is bringing a big “ocean-style” race with a good Midwest city feel. Watch or take part in different stand-up paddleboard races on the Mississippi River launching from Boom Island: a 5K, a 10K and a 200M fastest paddler competition. While you’re there, enjoy a free CorePower Yoga class, or take a free canoe ride on the Mississippi courtesy of Wilderness Inquiry Voyageur Canoe Rides.

2018 Aquatennial Guide | Twin Cities Moms BlogVolunteer

Each year the Aquatennial continues to thrive thanks to the hundreds of individuals that help out through the Aquatennial Volunteer Program sponsored by U.S. Bank. This year, you can be part of all the fun! Don’t miss out on being part of the Aquatennial Volunteer Program sponsored by U.S. Bank. Take part in events like the CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade, Target Fireworks and more.

This annual program offers a chance for individuals or corporate groups to have fun while giving back to your community during Minneapolis’ Official Civic Celebration. Perks include access to the premier viewing area at the Target Fireworks on Saturday, July 21, a t-shirt and more. The earlier you sign up, the more volunteer times and locations will be available for your team. For more information or to sign up, visit www.aquatennial.com/volunteer.

Give Back

The Minneapolis Aquatennial is partnering with the American Red Cross on a Blood Drive taking place Wednesday-Friday at IDS Center Crystal Court. The Red Cross currently has a severe blood shortage, and summertime always impacts blood donations because people are on vacation, etc. You can stop by and sign up the day of or register in advance online. Visit www.aquatennial.com/events to learn more about locations and how to register.

Keep up with Aquatennial as you plan your visit!

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