Top Things to Do in Minneapolis This Holiday Season

During the holidays, many Minneapolis venues and destinations come alive with special exhibits and events. There's always plenty to do in Minneapolis during the holidays!

Holidazzle, Photo by Dusty Hoskovec

Last Updated: 11/9/21

Gather your friends and family together during the holidays and experience Minneapolis at it's most magical time. Here's a list of the best holiday activities Minneapolis has going on this winter.  

1. Celebrate with the biggest holiday event of the season

Don’t miss a packed season of festivities, events and collective urban experiences taking place in downtown Minneapolis this holiday season. This year’s Holidazzle will again bring community together to enjoy activities, entertainment and highlight local small businesses while taking in the holiday season together. Check out the official schedule of events!

And on December 17-19, head over to Loring Park for a free and fun-for-the-whole-family experience complete with seasonal entertainment, Santa, local foods and beverages, holiday shopping from local small businesses, and amusement rides (Ferris wheel, carousel, and a giant slide). Plus festive fireworks at 7 p.m.  Make a whole day out it with our Where to Go Before and After Holidazzle guide.

2. Start stocking up on gifts 

We know you still have a long list of people to buy gifts for. Make your shopping experience much more enjoyable with markets that feature festive food, live music and holiday activities. Shop local this holiday season and come away with unique gifts for everyone. We’ve put together a full list of holiday markets and pop-up shop in Minneapolis for you to visit all season long.

3. Spend a night surrounded by lights

It gets darker a lot sooner this time of year so take advantage and see some of the most colorful and sparkling lights in the city.

At the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum stroll through lit up paths of decorated trees, flowers, nature and winter fun. There are 16 winter-themed outdoor light displays all weekend. Artist Jennifer Hedberg’s luminescent ice sculptures will also be part of the display.

Over at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds stroll through streets that feature over a million holiday lights, illuminated trees and art installations. The GLOW Holiday festival is putting a new holiday spin on the traditional Great Minnesota Get-Together, complete with a Stair Fair food court, sElfie Plaza, three-story ice palace, bike-powered tree, and more!

A drive-thru experience can be found at the Valleyfair amusement park. Lights will be synchronized to holiday music while you drive by giant candy canes, snowmen and arched pathways. Check out the Christmas in Color Animated Light Show.

For more ideas see a complete list of all Minneapolis light shows.

4. Be entertained by a Holiday Show

Theater and musical performances are perfect way to get into the holiday spirit. Whether you are looking for classics like A Christmas Carol or a twist on some favorites you’ll want to see a show in Minneapolis during the holidays. Check out a list of the must-see shows of the season.

5. Have a Nordic Christmas

The American Swedish Institute pulls out all the stops to celebrate the holiday season. Take part in holiday activities and show off your creative skills with Nordic craft workshops making handmade cards, ornaments, or traditional Swedish foods.

Be sure to also stop by the Julmarknad - the Scandinavian Christmas Market taking place inside the institute and at the ASI courtyard during the weekend. Shop for handmade goods from more than 60 regional artists.

6. Wander into a Gingerbread Wonderland

During the holiday season the Norway House turns into a gingerbread oasis. Here you’ll see gingerbread versions of familiar buildings and landmarks from around the Twin Cities and beyond. Local bakers and community members donate their creations to help build this tasty spectacle. You can even bring in your own gingerbread handiwork to put on display, no experience required.

7. Have a "Soulful Holiday"

From now until January 2nd, 2022 the Meet Minneapolis Visitor Center will showcase a window display of hand-crafted holiday trees featuring six one-of-a-kind mannequin trees created by local artist Alicia Smiley. The themed tree exhibit, called "A Soulful Holiday" will feature stories of Black history and culture that highlight the resilience of Black communities.

The display is in partnership with the Minnesota African American Heritage Museum and Gallery (MAAHMG), a locally owned and operated community-based museum focused on both past and contemporary African American history.

In addition to A Soulful Holiday, the museum will host a series of holiday events at the Meet Minneapolis Visitor Center in downtown Minneapolis including: Meet and greets with artist Alicia Smiley, a meet and greet with MAAHMG staff, a Children's Reading Circle and Art projects, and live musical performances of holiday songs.

More Articles You'll Like: