Last year the MELSA Libraries (Anoka County, Carver County, Dakota County, Hennepin County,Ramsey County, Saint Paul, Scott County, Washington County), rolled out the smARTpass Program. Library patrons now have another option for free or reduced-price tickets to arts activities and museums with this program.
When: Ongoing Sat Nov 5-Feb 25, 2017 • 6-9pm
Cost: $15/pp, family rates available, children 4 & under FREE
Details: A special holiday tradition at the Twin City Model Railroad Museum, Night Trains season magically transforms the museum layouts. Buildings and street lights glow, and throughout the museum the layouts are adorned with Christmas lights.
Nature Arts & Crafts Fair @ Richardson Nature Center, Bloomington
When: Saturday, Nov 5 • 10am-3pm
Cost: Free admission
Details: Local artisans of jewelry, felting, painting and more display their wares; afterward enjoy the park reserve. All vendor fees donated to the VEAP-Bloomington Food Shelf.
Santa’s Arrival Ceremony @ Mall of America
Details: The holiday season officially kicks off at Mall of America with Santa’s Arrival Ceremony. Santa will be greeted in holiday style with live performances.
When: Sunday, Nov 13 • noon-5pm
Details: Explore Nordic holiday traditions, see the historic Turnblad Mansion decked out for the season, and join in family craft activities. Included with museum admission.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical @ Stages Theatre Company, Hopkins
When: Runs Nov 18-Dec 28, 2016
Cost: $25/pp, $5/lap passes for children ages 3-4, under 3 are free. Nov 20 is pay-what-you can day for this particular performance. These special accessible tickets are available at the box office only.
Holiday Open House featuring Santa & Albert’s Arrival and Annual Holiday Play
@ Bachman’s on Lyndale, Minneapolis
When: Saturday, Nov 19 • 9am-4pm
Details: Join us as we welcome Santa and his sleigh Saturday morning and kick off the holiday season! Visit Bachman’s on Lyndale for treats, shopping, and season’s greetings during store hours. Kids can visit the live reindeer corral and stop by the craft counter for crafts and activities. Cookies, juice, and coffee available for snacking! And of course, see the annual Santa & Albert holiday play at 10am, 11:30am, 1pm and 3:30pm.
Rice Park Tree Lighting Ceremony, St. Paul
When: Nov 19 • 5pm
Details: Rice Park sparkles with thousands of twinkling lights! The 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.
Holiday Lights in the Park @ Phalen Regional Park, St. Paul
When: Runs nightly Nov 22-Jan 1, 2017 • 5-10pm
Cost: $10 cash per vehicle at gate or $8 online ticket only
Details: All of the net proceeds from the event will be distributed to a community non-profit. 60 holiday light sculptures and animated displays entertain guests as they cruise through the park in the evening hours.
When: Wednesday, Nov 23 • 6-6:45pm
Details: Making an appearance are local choirs, refreshments, Mr. and Mrs. Claus, 200,000+ lights, and a 30-foot-tall tree.
Holidazzle begins @ Loring Park, Minneapolis
When: Begins Friday, Nov 25 • 5-9m
Details: Holidazzle has moved to Loring Park, is offering free admission to all, and there will be vendors, activities, food, and fireworks for all. Holidazzle will run Thurs-Sun from 5-9pm on Thursdays & Fridays and 11am-9pm Saturdays & Sundays through Dec. 22, 2016.
When: Friday, Nov 25 – Sunday, Nov 27
Details: Family highlights include the Grand Lighting & Santa Parade (11/26), Christmas at the Folsom House (11/25-27), storytime with Mrs. Claus and wagon rides.
Tree Lighting Ceremony @ 50th & France, Edina
When: Saturday, Nov 26
Details: Holiday Market is open 12-5pm followed by tree lighting, carolers and visits with Santa.
Be sure to check our Family Fun Calendar for more inspiration on how to get out and about with your family this weekend and beyond!
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 21
Holiday Open House featuring Santa & Albert’s Arrival and Annual Holiday Play
@ Bachman’s on Lyndale, 6010 Lyndale Ave. S. Minneapolis
Details: Welcome Santa and his sleigh Saturday morning (9:30am) to kick off the holiday season! Kids can visit the live reindeer corral and stop by the craft counter for crafts and activities. Cookies, juice, and coffee available for snacking. And of course, see the annual Santa & Albert holiday play at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m.and 3:30 p.m.
@ University of Minnesota TC
Coffman Memorial Union, 300 Washington Ave SE, Minneapolis
Details: It’s a day jam-packed with hands-on STEM fun. (And this is coming from a mom who didn’t appreciate math and science until she had her own kids!) Highlights include free ExploraDome shows, playing with robots, and really cool exhibits that truly get kids excited about chemistry, engineering, physics and much more. Get the complete schedule here and note that the special “Physics Force” and “Energy and U” shows require (free) tickets that are picked up at the event check-in. My own kids had a blast at this event; plan to spend several hours.
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 22
A Charlie Brown Christmas
@ Stages Theatre Company
1111 Mainstreet, Hopkins
Cost: Sunday’s 4pm show is a pay-what-you-can performance.
Details: Tickets to this show are available at the box office only.
The novelty of back-to-school has worn off, the excitement of Halloween parties have wrapped up, and it’s still weeks until Thanksgiving break. And so we’re left with…November. But take heart, there’s plenty of free and budget family entertainment going on this month; you just have to dig a little deeper to find it. Here are 12 ideas to get you started:
Wednesday Wiggles @ Straightline Dance Fitness
34 13th Ave NE, Suite 104, Minneapolis
When: Ongoing Wednesdays starting Nov. 4 • 10-11am
Details: Join Straightline Dance Fitness every Wednesday for a playdate in their open studio. Balls, ribbons, mats, scarves, dress up clothes, and music provided.
Get Out For Nature Play!
When: Thursday, Nov. 5 • 10-11:15am
Cost: $3/pp plus tax
Details: Head outside and look for the ways nature is changing and preparing for winter. This program is designed for 2-5 year olds who are accompanied by an adult. Pre-registration is required.
When: Wednesday, Nov. 25 • 1-2pm
Details: Explore, discover, and play in your local park. Meet families interested in getting their children outdoors. Wear appropriate clothes and shoes.
ExploraTots @ Phalen Lakeside Activities Center
1530 Phalen Dr, St Paul
When: Wednesday, Nov. 11 • 10-11:30am
Details: Join other families for outdoor adventures with a different theme each month! Search for clues that animals have left behind, enjoy hands-on activities and story times, and get up-close looks at treasures from our naturalist’s backpack. It’s a great way to get outside with your child and learn about the natural world and get inspired with ideas to take home.
Nature Play: Green Time @ Phalen Lakeside Activities Center
1530 Phalen Dr, St Paul
When: Thursday, Nov. 19 • 10-11:30am
Details: Swap screen time for green time! Meet up with other families for unstructured nature play. Drop-ins are welcome.
When: Nov. 5 and ongoing Thursdays through April 28, 2016 • 10am-noon
Details: The hall between the Visitor Center and the Conservatory is filled with hands-on activities, manipulatives, art projects and games perfect for the 4 & under set. Explore a different theme each week through April 2016. Donations appreciated.
When: Sunday, Nov. 8 • 1-3pm
Details: Drop in for art projects, explore the grounds, the sculptures, and the current gallery exhibit.
When: Nov. 10 and every second Tuesday of the month following • Noon-1pm
Details: Bring a lunch to Landmark Center in St. Paul and enjoy a sampling of the Saint Paul City Ballet training and Company repertoire. Excerpts from Clara’s Dream:from the Nutcracker with audience participation will be performed Nov. 10. Great for budding ballerinas!
When: Friday, Nov. 20 • 5-7:30pm
Details: Hosted by Doing Good Together, a variety of family-appropriate service projects will be available to participate in. DTG is a proud participant of Family Fun Twin Cities’ Great Give Back Challenge!
When: Sunday, Nov. 22 • 4pm
Cost: Pay what you can, but note these accessible tickets are only available through the box office by calling 952-979-1111.
Details: Aimed at making theater accessible to all families, take advantage of this special pay-what-you-can offer and enjoy this classic Christmas tale presented by the young actors of Stages Theatre Co.
Volunteer with FFTC @ Feed My Starving Children
401 93rd Ave NW, Coon Rapids
Time: Monday, Nov. 23 • Noon-2pm
Details: Pack meals with Feed My Starving Children. When the following link becomes live, you can reserve your space to join in!
Holidazzle begins @ Loring Park
1382 Willow Street, Minneapolis
When: Begins Friday, Nov. 27 • 5-9m
Cost: Free admission this year!
Details: Holidazzle has moved to Loring Park this year, is offering free admission to all, and there will be vendors, activities, food, and fireworks for all. Holidazzle will run Thurs-Sun from 5-9pm on Thursdays & Fridays and 11am-9pm Saturdays & Sundays through Dec. 20, 2015.
In the next week or so, it will be opening night for new shows at many of our favorite theatres. Here’s a rundown for you so that you don’t miss any of them.
Updated on March 19, 2015. Check out the newest addition!
The timing was perfect. Both of my elementary-aged kids (9 & 7) had just finished reading Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book James and the Giant Peach when opportunity knocked to see the story come to life at Stages Theatre Company. Having enjoyed the book, they were curious about how it would compare with a stage adaptation. You might say they were a smidge skeptical that Stages had somehow procured a colossal peach for the show…
Turns out – spoiler! – there is no actual fruit in the show that swells to mammoth proportions. There are, however, many cool tricks employed to convince the audience that they are, in fact, witnessing the growth of this miraculous peach and the bizarre ways in which it transforms the life of a young boy named Henry James Trotter. (I’m not gonna spoil those!)
If you aren’t familiar with the story, it centers around orphaned James, who, at the beginning of the tale, is living a miserable existence with his two aunts in England. While the book paints his life as tortured, the Stages version manages to remain sympathetic to James while making us all laugh out loud at the uproariously vain antics of Aunts Sponge and Spiker. The aunts drew the most laughs from my kids. Their favorite characters, however, were the band of musical insects who were, alongside the peach, bewitched by a satchel of magical crocodile tongues. James and the insects go on to have an adventure that will forever alter the course of the young boy’s life.
I don’t want to give any more of the story away. So here’s what I recommend:
- Read the book by Roald Dahl should you decide to attend the show (it’s a pretty quick read for elementary-aged kids; youngsters should be a pretty patient 5 years to have the story read aloud) OR
- watch the movie (Walt Disney Pictures) AND THEN
- come see the show! It’s very important to note that a typical Stages Theatre performance lasts about one hour. It’s a great length of time for families bringing along younger children, especially those who might not be old enough to follow the story. The preschoolers I’ve observed have been well entertained by the upbeat, musical performances.
I was bowled over when I took a look at our Family Fun Calendar for this upcoming weekend! The list below is just a sampling of some of the family activities offered that caught my eye. There are also numerous springtime events going on at local parks and nature centers as well as more theater and concert options. All activities listed here have a fee attached; look for our Free List of weekend events later this week.
Leos Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen (The Adventures of Vixen Sharp Ears)
Ted Mann Concert Hall (University of Minnesota Opera Theatre)
2128 Fourth Street S., Minneapolis, MN 55455
Showtimes: Friday, April 11 at 7:30pm; Saturday, April 12 at 7:30pm; Sunday, April 13 at 1:30pm
Tickets: $20/adults, $5/students & children. Buy tickets online, by box office (612-624-2345) or at the Rarig Ticket Center Office.
Inspired by cartoons the composer had seen in the newspaper, this all-ages opera combines music and dance with themes of “nature, the life cycle, and the spiritual side of life”. A discussion of the opera will begin in the lobby 45 minutes prior to the show.
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs
Stages Theatre Company
1111 Mainstreet, Hopkins, MN 55343
Showtimes: Friday, April 11 at 7:00pm; Saturday, April 12 at 1:00 & 7:00pm; Sunday, April 13 at 2:00 & 4:30pm
Tickets: $15/all seats
Catch the opening weekend of this new show at Stages! The Big Bad Wolf is set to stand trial for his supposed role in that whole mess with the Three Little Pigs. You, the audience, gets to decide his fate. Based on the book of the same name but set to music, it’s sure to be good for some laughs.
Saturday Mornings on the Farm
Gale Woods Farm
7210 County Road 110 W., Minnetrista, MN 55364
Hours: Saturday, April 12, 9:30am – 12pm
Admission: $5 per participant, 20% discount for groups of 4 or more.
Spend Saturday mornings through August assisting a farmer with chores and other seasonal activities on this real, working farm. Springtime at Gale Woods means the arrival of the Farm Babies! Gianna has more details on meeting the animals and other events at Gale Woods Farm here.
Robot Day at The Works Museum
9740 Grand Avenue, Bloomington, MN 55420
Hours: Saturday, April 12, 10am – 4pm
Admission: $8/all ages
In honor of National Robotics Week, The Works is hosting their annual Robot Day this Saturday! The usual $8 admission fee will cover all of this hands-on museum’s fun exhibits plus special robotics demos from FIRST Robotics and FIRST LEGO League among others. A great opportunity for kids interesting in joining one of the FIRST programs.
Squish of Spring – Weekend Family Fun
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
3675 Arboretum Drive, Chaska MN 55318
Hours: Saturdays & Sundays in April, 12:00 – 4pm
Admission: $12/person ages 13+, under 13 are free
Get ready to play in the mud weekends at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. April’s family program Squish of Spring gets hands-on with soil and includes a take-home planting experiment.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Stages Theatre Company
1111 Mainstreet, Hopkins, MN
Box Office: (952) 979-1111
Dates: Now – March 23, 2014
All seats, all shows $15
You can’t help but root for this on-stage Alexander the moment he wakes up one morning with gum stuck in his hair. From a rocky start to the day to being taunted at school and finally an after-school trip to the dentist, this poor kid is possibly having the worst day of his life. But instead of taking on the rather glum tone I always thought the book character chose, this on-stage Alexander comes off as earnest, effervescent and eager to please until the end of his unlucky day.
The play closely hugs the popular children’s book with one notable exception. To supplement Alexander’s mishaps are several funny musical numbers sang by the talented young cast. My own 8-year-old son (my “play date” for the afternoon) especially snickered over the “If I Were in Charge of the World” tune about kids wiping out life’s “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days”. Speaking of talented, most of the actors played more than one role in the show. Alexander’s antagonistic brothers, for instance, also play his buddies at school. The youth moved seamlessly into their different roles, keeping a constant stream of chuckles coming from the crowd.
The quick, bright pace of the show coupled with the length (one hour) made it perfect for junior-sized attention spans. I attended with my 8-year-old, but my younger daughters (ages 6 &4) would have both enjoyed and had no trouble sitting through the show without squirming.
Alexander’s misfortunes are greatly entertaining. They might even have your own kids admitting that their own lives are pretty great in comparison.
Celebrate 30 years of shows at Stages Theatre Company with Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day! All ages will enjoy the show, and all seats are only $15 online or by calling the box office at (952) 979-1111.
Disclaimer: We haven’t seen all these shows, but we are fairly confident these will be fun for the whole family. If that is not the case, please can you let us know what you experienced? We greatly appreciate it!
Stages Theatre Company (Hopkins Center for the Perfoming Arts)
Llama Llama Holiday Drama
November 22-December 29, 2013
The Wizard of Oz
December 4-December 29, 2013
James J. Hill House
Victorian Christmas Stories
December 15, 2013 –Reservations Required
For Older Children
This is Theatre Weekend–Some openings, some closings. The theatre is a great choice for these cold rainy fall days!
The Wong Kids in the Secret of the Space Chupacabra GO!
Children’s Theatre Company (Cargill Stage)
Little Bird That Was Caught
Sideways Stories from Wayside
Stages Theatre Company
Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse
Stages Theatre Company
Children’s Theatre Company (United Health Group Stage)
Gianna Kordatzky is a co-founder of Family Fun Twin Cities.