Amazing Light Shows, Holiday Villages, Winter Skating and Much, Much More
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 family and keep everyone in the holiday spirit!
CP Holiday Train at Union Depot in Downtown St. Paul
Final stop December 13 at 6 p.m.
The CP Holiday Train is on tour and has a final Twin Cities stop in downtown St. Paul. 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.
Holiday Lights in the Park (Lake Phalen, St. Paul)
Through January 1, 5:30 p.m. 10 p.m. 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. Holiday Lights in the Park is a joint venture of the St. Paul chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and the St. Paul Police Foundation with the sole purpose of creating fun and affordable holiday events that raise funds to help meet basic life needs for children and adults in the Twin Cities metro area.
Student Designed Winter Light Show (University of Minnesota)
December 13 at 5:30 p.m.and 6 p.m.
Join the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering (CSE) during the first two weekends in December for a dazzling light show designed by students. The high-tech light show is bigger and better this year featuring more than 100,000 LED lights and laser projection set to music, some of which is written and recorded by University of Minnesota students.
Holidazzle Village, Downtown Minneapolis
November 28 December 24
Holidazzle Village, located on Nicollet Mall from 12th Street to 10th Street, 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.
Rice Park Holiday Lights, Downtown St. Paul
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 with 30,000 energy-efficient LED lights, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The park will sparkle with millions of twinkling lights, classic Nutcracker and angel statues, and other holiday decor. Make downtown Saint Paul your family holiday destination!
Prairie Lights Choreographed Light Show
Prairie Lights is a residential Christmas holiday lights display that is synchronized to music using computer control. Viewers tune their car radios to 88.1 FM and enjoy the animated lights dancing to music. Prairie Lights has thousands of lights synchronized to music in a repeating 15-minute show.
Macy’s Downtown Santaland Display
Through December 24- 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 through December 24 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
Rice Park Winter Skate
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 Wednesday: 11 a.m. 5 p.m,, Thursday Saturday: 11 a.m. 10 p.m., Sunday: 11 a.m. 9 p.m. FREE
Night Trains at Twin Cities Railroad Museum (Bandana Square St. Paul)
Saturdays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
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. 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. Santa Claus will be attending two Saturday Night Trains sessions leading up to Christmas (December 13 and 20), so come and ask Santa for a train set for Christmas! $10 for individuals, 4 and under FREE
Santa Saturdays at the Minnesota Zoo, Apple Valley
Through December 20, 11:30 a.m to 1:30 p.m.
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 13, and December 20 and meet Santa. He’ll be available for photos.
Sunken Gardens Holiday Flower Show (Como Zoo & Conservatory), St. Paul
Through January 4
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.
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 p.m. 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.
Hansen Tree Farm in Anoka
Through December 22 – Fridays 1 p.m. 6 p.m., Saturdays 9 a.m. 6 p.m., Sundays 10 a.m. 5 p.m.
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
For a list of dozens of additional Christmas tree farms in the Twin Cities area, visit the Minnesota Grown website.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Children’s Theater Company in Minneapolis)
Through January 4, times vary
The Dr. Seuss Classic comes to life with the fantastic company at the Children’s Theater in Minneapolis. A great holiday tradition and sure to be a fantastic show!
A Christmas Carol (The Guthrie in Downtown Minneapolis)
Through December 28; performance times vary
This year marks the 40th annual production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, an annual favorite at the Guthrie that impresses every year!
A Christmas Story, The Musical (Ordway in Downtown St. Paul)
Through December 28, times vary
A Christmas Story: The Musical is the hilarious account of Ralphie’s desperate quest to ensure that this most perfect of gifts ends up under his tree this Christmas.
Sounds of Blackness (The Guthrie in Downtown Minneapolis)
December 22 at 7:30 p.m.
Minnesota’s three-time Grammy Award-winning Sounds of Blackness returns with its 36th Anniversary performance. The Night Before Christmas A Musical Fantasy is a contemporary adaptation of the beloved poem A Visit From St Nicholas. This family-friendly musical production brings Santa, Mrs. Claus and Rudolph the Rappin’ Reindeer to life in hilarious song and dance as they learn the true meaning of Christmas.
For lots of additional holiday activities, visit the Twin Cities Mom’s Blog.