Explore Minnesota Events

Explore Minnesota Events

December 14, 2011

This report is brought to you by Explore Minnesota Tourism


Southern Minnesota

Beaver Trails/Yogi Bear Jelly Stone Campground will be the site of a Festival of Lights through December 31, with tours of more than 50 festive LED-lighted holiday displays accompanied by holiday music. And while in Austin, check out the Teddy Bear Christmas Display at a local residence through December 31, and view more than 400 teddy bears displayed in various settings. Holiday Nativity Collection Tours will also be offered at a local residence, with a chance to view over 750 nativity sets through January 7. Both tours are available through the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau. 1-800-444-5713; www.austincvb.com

Numerous holiday activities and performances will be offered Saturday, December 17, in the city of Rochester. Highlights include Irving Berlin’s White Christmas at the Rochester Civic Theatre, Jolley Trolley Holiday Shopping Tours and Rochester Trolley’s Holiday Lights Tours in downtown Rochester. 1-800-634-8277; www.rochestercvb.org

Trester Trolley Christmas Lights Tours will be offered in Winona, Saturdays and Sundays, through December 18. Tours will depart from the Merchants Bank parking lot, lasting roughly one hour. And don’t miss the 14th Annual Blue Heron Consort Holiday Concert at the Chapel of Saint Mary of the Angels on the Saint Teresa campus in Winona on Sunday, December 18 at 3:00 p.m., with sacred music from the middle ages and Renaissance period featuring Gregorian chant, Medieval carols and other holiday music. 1-800-657-4972; www.visitwinona.com

The Paradise Center for the Arts in Faribault will present “A Holiday Mixed Bag” on Saturday, December 17. Hear all your favorite holiday classics in this original Sister performance that features characters in a theatrical and interactive format which is not only heartwarming it leaves the audience breathless from laughter! 507/332-7372; www.paradisecenterforthearts.org

The Blue Earth County Historical Society in Mankato will host R. D. Hubbard House Tours on December 17, with tours of this beautifully decorated, newly refurnished historic home. Start the day off with Bach’s Lunch Family Concert at the Mankato YMCA Exercise Room at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, December 17, and introduce young children and their families to the delights of classical music. Laughing, clapping, singing along, and dancing are encouraged! Kids receive a gift and snack at the end of the performance. 1-800-657-4733; www.visitgreatermankato.com

A Golden Eagle Project Field Trip will be offered Saturday, December 17, at the National Eagle Center in Wabasha. Field trips begin with a brief classroom session learning to identify golden eagles, followed by a caravan to a field site to view golden eagles in the wild. A Golden Eagle Project Field Trip will also be offered Saturday, January 7. 651/565-4989; www.nationaleaglecenter.org

The Mayo Civic Center in Rochester will present Sesame Street Live: Elmo Makes Music on Friday and Saturday, December 30 & 31, when Elmo and friends teach children that everyone can make and enjoy beautiful music together. And on Saturday, January 7, the Mayo Civic Center will be the site of the 19th Annual Southeastern Minnesota Wedding Extravaganza. 507/328-2220; www.mayociviccenter.com

The 16th Annual Whitewater River Valley Christmas Bird Count will be held at Whitewater State Park on Sunday, January 1 from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Participants will explore the area’s winter wonderland on foot or by car as they document wintering birds. Anyone with an interest in birds, regardless of experience, is invited to participate. Counters will meet at the Whitewater Valley Visitor Center starting at 7:30 a.m. There will be a fire in the wood stove, hot beverages and homemade treats, and the feeders will be full of seeds and birds. What a great way to start the New Year! Whitewater State Park is located 3 miles south of Elba on State Highway 74. 507/932-3007; www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/whitewater/index.html

Twin Cities Greater Metropolitan vicinity

Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis will be the site of the 20th Annual Target Holidazzle Parades, each Thursday through Sunday, December 1-18. This year’s parade will enchant thousands with brightly lit floats, marching bands, celebrity grand marshals, and over 200 costumed characters from popular children’s stories. Each parade begins at 6:30 p.m., and lasts approximately 30 minutes. And be sure to check out the 49th Annual Macys’ 8th Floor Holiday Display located just around the corner, Thursdays through Mondays, through December 30, and enjoy an animated tale of “A Day in the Life of an Elf”, as well as photos with Santa, Mrs. Claus’ Bakery, Santa’s Toy Shop, and Macys’ Puppet Theatre. 612/376-7669, 612-338-3807; www.holidazzle.com

A Nordic Christmas will be offered at the American Swedish Institute’s Turnblad Mansion in Minneapolis through January 8, featuring rooms filled with the holiday décor and decorations of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and Finland. And beginning Monday, December 26, the ASI will offer Winter Break Wonders each afternoon through Saturday, December 31, including Julglädje: a Joyous Family Celebration, the movie “Pippi Longstocking,” Swedish Folktales & Crafts, Get Ready for 2012!, and a New Year’s Eve Family Concert. 612/871-4907; www.asimn.org

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska will present “Making Spirits Bright,” a holiday season brimming with merriment, music and make-believe on Saturdays and Sundays, December 3-18. Visitors will find 12 spectacular storybook-themed decorated trees in the Oswald Visitor Center and Snyder Building. Also enjoy Storytime by the Trees, Pictures with Santa, Sleigh Rides, a Holiday Kids’ Shop, and Hands-On Family Activities. And on December 17, visitors will also enjoy Arbor Bells, and Holiday Heralds of the Minnesota Chorale. 952/443-1440; www.arboretum.umn.edu

Hometown for the Holidays will be offered in downtown Stillwater each Saturday and Sunday, through December 24, with Santa sightings, Victorian carolers, free carriage rides, holiday decorations and shopping specials along historic Main Street. And on Saturday, December 17, visitors will also enjoy a Ho Ho Breakfast with Santa at the Water Street Inn, featuring a North Pole Breakfast with a dessert Ice Cream Station and Sweet Tooth Station, as well as a Lollipop Tree and a CandyCane Tree. Each child will receive a free stocking, and Photos with Santa will be offered. Reservations are requested. 651/351-1717, 651/439-6000; http://discoverstillwater.com

Performances of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella will be offered from Wednesday, December 13 through Sunday, January 1 at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul. And the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts McKnight Theatre will present Sister’s Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi’s Gold, December 13 through January 1. 651/224-4222; www.ordway.org

A Snowshoe Along the St. Croix will be held Saturday, December 17 from noon until 2:00 p.m. at Wild River State Park, located east of North Branch. Join the naturalist for a leisurely walk along the St. Croix River on snowshoes. Designed for beginners and ages 6 and up, explore winter in Wild River on this 1-mile trek. Snowshoes are available for free for the first 25 participants each day. This event will also be offered New Year’s Eve, December 31. 651/583-2925; www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/wild_river/index.html

The Minnesota History Center in St. Paul will host Kwanzaa Family Day on Monday, December 26, from 12:00-4:00 p.m. This annual seven day holiday honors African-American people and their past. This year’s celebration takes place on the first day of Kwanzaa and focuses on the first principal, Umoja, or “Unity,” and includes an opening and closing ceremony, storytelling, West African drumming and dancing, a cooking demonstration and an art activity inspired by the principle of Umoja. Activities free with museum admission. 651/259-3000; www.mnhs.org/index.htm

Central Minnesota

Sertoma Presents Winter Wonderland at the Northland Arboretum in Brainerd each Wednesday through Saturday through January 1. From the comfort of your vehicle, you will drive past dozens of brilliant light displays. There will also be many special event nights, including the Enchanted Evenings dinner nights, the Horse-Drawn Carriage nights, and the Sledding/Walking nights. The Northland’s welcome center will be transformed into a Holiday Village, with Santa on hand for photos. On Friday and Saturday, December 16 & 17, head to Paul Bunyan Land and take a stroll or carriage ride though Christmas Past at the 6th Annual Enchanted Holiday Village, and enjoy more than 40 holiday and winter scenes, a Holiday Cafe, and bonfire. Then on Saturday, December 17, check out Santa Claus Visits The Lodge in Baxter, when Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive for time and pictures with the children–sleigh rides will also be offered. This event is free for overnight guests. 1-800-450-2838; www.explorebrainerdlakes.com, http://sertomawinterwonderland.com

A Center for the Arts in Fergus Falls will present A Christmas Carol, Thursday through Saturday, December 15-17, with a Lance Johnson Lunchtime Holiday Theatre Organ Concert also offered at A Center for the Arts on Saturday, December 17. And the Central Minnesota Team Penning Christmas Show will be offered at the Red Horse Ranch Arena, Friday through Sunday, December 16-18. 218/736-6951; www.fergusfalls.com

Pictures with Santa and Horse & Carriage Rides will be offered by the Salvation Army in Willmar on Saturday evening, December 17, with carriage rides, pictures with Santa, cookie decorating, and Christmas carolers. A performance of Searching for the King – A Dramatic Christmas Musical will be offered Saturday earlier in the afternoon at the Assembly of God in Willmar. Cap off the night with Cosmic Bowling at the Kandi Entertainment Center. 1-800-845-8747; www.willmarlakesarea.com

The Morrison County Fairgrounds in Little Falls will be the site of Santa & His Reindeer on Saturday afternoon, December 17. Reindeer will provide free rides from 1:00-3:00 p.m. Additional festivities include free horse and buggy rides from 2:00-4:00 p.m., photos with Santa, cookies, milk, cider and door prizes! 1-800-325-5916; www.littlefallsmn.com

Pioneer Place on Fifth in St. Cloud will be the site of Canoise-A New Year’s Eve Rehearsal Dance Party on Friday, December 30. And on Saturday, December 31, enjoy an amazing New Year’s Eve Party featuring the Fabulous Armadillos at the Pioneer Place on Fifth Theatre, with a social hour, wide variety of hors d’oeuvres, three sets of live music, and even a second course of food! 320/203-0331, 1-800-264-2940; www.ppfive.com, www.granitecountry.com

A New Year’s Eve Winter Warm-up will be held at Lake Carlos State Park on December 31, from 3:00-8:00 p.m. Ring in the new year with your family at Lake Carlos State Park, with ice skating, a bonfire, snowshoeing or hiking, and refreshments afterwards in the visitor center. The entrance to Lake Carlos State Park is located 10 miles north of Alexandria on State Highway 29, then 2 miles west on Highway 38. 320/852-7200; www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/lake_carlos/index.html

The Breezy Point Ice Fest, hosted by the Brainerd Lakes Chamber, will take place Saturday, January 7 at Breezy Point on Pelican Lake. Just some of the many activities and highlights at this year’s event include Youth and Adult Pond Hockey Tournaments, a World Championship Ice Auger Competition, sleigh rides, a vendor & craft fair, free dogsled rides, and kite racing! 1-800-450-2838; www.explorebrainerdlakes.com, www.breezypointresort.com

Northwest Minnesota

The MSUM Planetarium in Moorhead will present Season of Light: The Star of Bethlehem each Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday through December 22. This premiere show uses the full dome digital projector to present a visually rich and musically satisfying history of endearing holiday customs, from the burning Yule Log and sparkling tree lights to the Star of Bethlehem and the Hanukkah Menorah. 218/477-2920; http://web.mnstate.edu/regsci/planetarium/schedule.cfm

A Winter Bird Survey will be held Saturday, December 17, at Lake Bemidji State Park in Bemidji. Everyone is invited to help with this annual survey of birds that overwinter in the park. Afterwards, check out the Christmas Open House at the Kats Book Nook in town, and enjoy Christmas cookies, breads, hot spiced cider, hot chocolate, coffee and tea. 1-800-458-2223; www.bemidji.org

The city of Detroit Lakes will be the site of numerous holiday activities and events on December 17, including Sleigh Rides and Photos & Wishes with Santa at Washington Square Mall, a Holiday Open House at Forest Edge Gallery, and Santa Day and A Native Craft Fair at The Depot. There will also be a Winter Bird Count of Detroit Lakes and the surrounding area on December 17. 1-800-542-3992; www.visitdetroitlakes.com

Celebrate the Night will be held New Year’s Eve, Saturday, December 31, at the Alerus Center in Greater Grand Forks. This annual non-alcoholic, family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration features incredible live entertainment and a variety of musical talents, as well as beautiful ice sculptures, delicious food, art and science projects for children, games and activities for teenagers in the Chilladyziak Lounge, half-hour music activity sessions, and an amazing fireworks display at midnight. Food and drink will be available throughout the evening, with concession selling a variety of sandwiches, snacks and non-alcoholic drinks. 701/330-9667; www.celebratethenight.com

Maplelag Resort in Callaway will host the 4th Annual Winter Trails Day & Dinner on Saturday, January 7, with hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, entertainment, a trail presentation, silent auction and dinner in the evening. And on Sunday, January 8, head to the nearby Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge for the annual Tamarac Winter Hike. Dress warmly and meet at the visitor center to explore the science of winter on snowshoes–some snowshoes will be available to borrow. 218/375-4466, 218/847-2641; www.maplelag.com, www.fws.gov/midwest/tamarac

Northeast Minnesota

The cities of Lutsen-Tofte and Grand Marais will offer North Shore Holiday Weekends through December 25, with five weekend getaways perfect for holiday shopping and sharing. The cities of Lutsen-Tofte and Grand Marais will offer North Shore Holiday Weekends through December 25, with five weekend getaways perfect for holiday shopping and sharing. The weekend of December 16-18, enjoy a Gems of the North Weekend featuring the North Shore’s precious stones set in imaginative and stylish jewelry. Highlights include jewelry by North Shore Bling, the Trollbead Trunk Show at Sivertson Gallery, a Trunk Show Extravaganza in Lutsen by over 20 jewelers, Christmas and Holiday High Teas, and a Winter Solstice Puppet Show and Bonfire. 1-888-922-5000; www.anorthshoreholiday.com

The Bentleyville Tour of Lights will be offered each evening through December 26 at Bayfront Park in Duluth. Come experience the largest holiday light show in the Midwest, with nearly 3 million lights illuminating Bayfront Festival Park located on the shores of Lake Superior. The new animated 12-story steel Christmas tree will be on display, rising to more than twice the height of New York City’s famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree! Also enjoy free hot apple cider and coffee, marshmallow roasting, free ice skating at Bayfront Park, and a visit with Santa Claus. Admission is free. 1-800-4-DULUTH; www.bentleyvilleusa.org

“Polar Express” Train Rides will be offered Friday through Sunday, December 16-18. Departing from Fitgers in Duluth, the train will travel along the lakewalk, arriving at the Lake Superior Railroad Museum for a reading of “The Polar Express.” Children will also have a chance to visit with Santa. Enjoy a campfire and hot chocolate after returning by train to Fitgers. 218/722-1273; www.fitgers.com

The town of Embarrass will be the site of Ice Candles & A Holiday Gathering on Saturday, December 17, to celebrate the Finnish tradition of remembering loved ones during the holiday season. Ice candles will be placed at the Embarrass Cemetery on grave sites and along the driveway for a magical display of light, warmth, and beauty on a cold winter night. A holiday gathering with food, children’s craft activities and fellowship will take place at the Embarrass Town Hall following the lighting. 218/984-2084; www.embarrass.org

Warmer By the Lake will be held Monday, December 26 at Bayfront Festival Park in Duluth. This popular annual event includes a figure skating presentation by the Duluth Figure Skating Club, winter activities for kids and families, sleigh rides, and a fireworks display at 6:30 p.m. Bentleyville lights will turn on at dusk. Admission is free! 1-800-438-5884; www.visitduluth.com

The Audubon Center of the North Woods in Sandstone will be the site of a Winter Family Escape from Tuesday through Friday, December 27-30. Bring your family and escape the hustle and bustle of the holiday season during this exciting family adventure! Highlights include active programs such as wall climbing and quinzhee building to educational programs such as Wolves And Winter Survival to winter sports such as cross-country skiing and dogsledding. Quiet activities such as crafts and sleigh rides. And on New Year’s Eve, December 31, enjoy New Year’s Eve at the Lake, featuring a presentation on Phenology-A Means of Keeping Track of the Seasons, followed by an amazing holiday feast! On site accommodations are perfect for a weekend of adventure, relaxation and retreat. 320/245-2648; www.audubon-center.org

A First Day Snowshoe Hike will be offered Sunday afternoon, January 1, at Gooseberry Falls State Park, just north of Two Harbors. Join the park naturalist on a winter wonderland snowshoe hike–bring your own snowshoes or borrow a pair from the park. In case of a lack of snow, a walking hike will still be done and ice cleats are advisable. 218/834-3855; www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/gooseberry_falls/index.html

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