Twin Cities Guide to Family Activities This Weekend: December 17-18, 2022

Things to do in Minneapolis & St Paul this weekend!

Weekend Family Guide - Family Fun Twin Cities Banner.

This Twin Cities Family Weekend Guide covers the weekend of December 17-18, 2022. To find our most recent guide, click here

With so many holiday happenings around the Twin Cities this weekend, we want to make it as jolly as possible for your family to find them. For more inspiration and seasonal cheer, hop over to our ULTIMATE TWIN CITIES CHRISTMAS & HOLIDAY GUIDE, our FAMILY FUN CALENDAR or our DECEMBER FAMILY GUIDE.

Christmas and Holiday Guide Twin Cities

TWIn Cities Holiday Events This Weekend in the twin cities

Twin Cities Holiday Festivals This weekend

Trot on over to our Twin Cities Holiday Festivals & Tree Lightings page for more details – many Twin Cities-area communities are hosting their own downtown galas, complete with roving Santas, carolers and sleigh bells.

All Weekend: December 16-18, 2022

European Christmas Market at Union Depot

214 4th Street East Saint Paul, MN
A free event to attend with the opportunity to shop for handmade gifts as well as nosh on holiday treats. Located at St Paul’s historic Union Depot (maybe you’ll spot a train or two). Open weekends, Fri 4-9pm, Sat 10am-8pm & Sun 11am-6pm.

Gingerbread Wonderland at Norway House

913 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404
A holiday tradition, Gingerbread Wonderland returns for its 6th Anniversary  – you can almost taste the little gingerbread village reading this, can’t you? $10/pp kids FREE.

The Northern Express – A Complete Christmas Wonderland

Tanadoona, 3300 Tanadoona Dr, Excelsior, MN 55331
Explore Santa’s workshop, meet reindeer, Christmas llamas, or Clydesdales, take pictures with Santa himself, and get lost in the Christmas Tree forest. Thru December 18, 2022. Fri 12pm-5:30pm, Sat 10:30am-5:30pm, Sun 12-5:30pm; Admission: Adults $20; Children $15; 2 and under – free.

White Bear Lake Winterfest

Downtown White Bear Lake
Horse drawn trolley rides, photos with Santa, carolers and shopping. Take an elf hunt this weekend ONLY!




Twin City Model Railroad Museum, 668 Transfer Rd Ste. 8, St Paul, MN 55114   
The glowing and magical Night Trains run every Saturday night through February, but on this select evening, visitors can meet with Santa. December 16th, 2023. 3-7pm, $15/pp.

Model train and boat lit up in a dark background. Text reads: "All Aboard for Night Trains"
Photo Credit: Twin Cities Model Railroad Museum


401 E 104th St, Bloomington, MN 55420
Sing Christmas carols around the pump organ, listen to a reading of the Christmas story, enjoy some holiday refreshments and make paper star ornaments to take home. Drop in from 1-4pm. FREE, donations appreciated.

Winter Beach Party with Santa

Jimmy Lee Recreation Center, 270 Lexington Parkway N., Saint Paul, MN, 55104
Join Santa at Great River Water Park for photos, swimming, music and fun. December 17, 2022; 1-4pm, FREE.



Good Times Park, 3265 Northwood Cir, Ste 100, Eagan, MN 55121
Santa visit is included with all-day admission to the park. Arrive before noon to visit with Santa and then play all day (Park is open from 7am-9pm). Dec 8, 2022. Santa Visits from 10am-Noon. $10.95.

Wintertime in Stillwater wagonette rides

Downtown Stillwater, Stillwater MN 55082
Free Victorian-style horse drawn wagon rides through the downtown and riverfront areas of the charming city. December 17, 2022,

Twin Cities Holiday Lights Displays

Winter Lights at the Arboretum

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, 3675 Arboretum Dr, Chaska, MN 55318
Winter will be in bloom with lighted greenery and displays throughout the pathways of the arb’s gardens! Online ticket reservation required. This weekend – Tickets: $25/pp, kids under 16 free.

Weeping Willow Sensory Garden at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Winter Lights Show in Chaska, Minnesota
Weeping Willow Sensory Garden. Image courtesy of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

GLOW Holiday Festival

CHS Field, 360 N Broadway St, St Paul, MN 55101
This year, there is more than a drive-through: Over a million lights, selfie plaza, three-story ice palace, and a bike-powered tree. Tickets: $12.75-$20.75/pp. Nov. 23, 2022 – Jan. 1, 2023.

Sever’s Holiday Lights

3121 150th St W, Shakopee, MN 55379
Holiday light shows, Winter Carnivals, and more. Fri-Sa 5pm-10pm. $25-$55/car.

Christmas in Color

Valleyfair1 Valley Fair Dr, Shakopee, MN 55379
Drive through decorations including millions of lights synchronized to holiday music. Tickets $35-$65 (plus $5.90 taxes & fees)/vehicle.

For the whole sparkling scoop on the best holiday light displays in the Twin Cities, visit our 2022 Twin Cities Drive Thru Christmas Events and Walking Tours page. OR – create your own drive-thru holiday lights event! We have an enormous list of homes around the Twin Cities that deck their halls up for the holiday: Jump over to Light It Up: Twin Cities & Greater Minnesota Christmas & Holiday Light Displays for our map!

december weekend

Find Santa Claus in the Twin Cities This weekend

Where will Jolly Old St Nick be visiting this weekend? This is one of the last chances for littles to hand over their Christmas list! Somehow he manages to be all over the Twin Cities! For further planning, check our Twin Cities Santa-finder page or check out the details below on our holiday festival calendar.

December Family Weekend: Last Chance Holiday

WEEKEND SANTA HIGHLIGHT! Meet Santa at Holidazzle

Visiting with Santa is just one of the many fun activities at the annual festival. Santa will be on site all weekend for photo ops plus amusement rides and fireworks this weekend only! Fri 5-10pm, Sat 11am-10pm & Sun 11am-7pm.

FINAL WEEKEND! Santa’s Train Shop at Minnesota Transportation Museum

193 Pennsylvania Ave E, St Paul, MN 55130
The museum transforms into Santa’s Train Shop with live music, activities, train rides, pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus. December 17 & 18, 2022, 10am-4pm. $9-$18/pp or $50/family.


6202 Bloomington Rd, MN 55111
Walk through a dazzling light show, visit with Santa, decorate a cookie and do a winter craft. (Note, there is no open climbing during this event.) Book your one-hour timeslot at the link. December 17, 2022, 4-7pm. $7/pp.

Still Christmas Shopping This Weekend?

Our CHRISTMAS SHOPPING GUIDE helps you shop local and support small businesses while picking out presents for your loved ones this year. This gift guide has wonderful ideas for all ages. The best part is these events double as family fun!

Holiday Shopping Events - December Weekend Holiday Guide

Fun OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES in twin cities Parks This Weekend

Featured here for the weekend is just a taste of all that’s going on across the incredible Twin Cities park systems. You can get more ideas on our FAMILY FUN CALENDAR or browse the links below to search for local fun events & things to do with kids this weekend in the parks.


Many ice skating, skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing spots are already humming with activity and are located in public parks. Try one of these pretty, refrigerated outdoor ice skating rinks if the community sites aren’t yet open:

Skaters warming by the firepit at the Central Park Ice Loop in Maple Grove, Minnesota



Three Rivers Park locations
Drop in for free nature programs at MISSISSIPPI GATEWAY REGIONAL PARK & EASTMAN NATURE CENTER (1-3pm) & RICHARDSON NATURE CENTER (3-4pm) New themes each week, same free price. December 18, 2022.

Winter Solstice Celebration

Cleary Lake Regional Park, 18106 Texas Ave, Prior Lake, MN 55372
Celebrate the shortest day and the longest night of the ear with outdoor activities, including lantern-making, reflection stations and roasting marshmallows around a fire. December 17, 2022; 1-3pm or 4-6pm. FREE.


2187 County Rd 101, Shakopee, MN 55379
Take a guided tour around 19th century homes decorated for the season, try holiday games of old, sing Christmas carols and learn about modern immigrant communities of the area. December 17-18, 2022. $12/pp.

more ideas for things to do this weekend in the twin cities with kids

ARM YOURSELF…for the winter break ahead

For many families (particularly those inclined to consult this website), the weekend flows right into a nice stretch of vacation days from school. Lots of us are also on break from our regularly-scheduled extracurriculars, too. A few years back we put together a list of 16 THINGS TO DO OVER WINTER BREAK IN THE TWIN CITIES to keep ourselves sane at home during this time, and, for extra armor, beefed up our annual WINTER FUN SURVIVAL GUIDE.

Always free to visit weekends

Find hundreds more things to do in Minneapolis & St Paul with kids!

During this cold weather, find tons of fun indoor games for kids you can play right at home.

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