Twin Cities Guide to Family Activities This Weekend: December 11-12, 2021

Things to do in Minneapolis & St Paul this weekend!

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This Twin Cities Family Weekend Guide covers the weekend of December 11-12, 2021. 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

Still need to find your perfect Christmas tree? Our teammate Joy took care of this last weekend and literally went the extra mile to bring her family to a Christmas tree farm so they could make the memory of cutting their own fresh tree. Think that sounds fun? She’s compiled a list of the best places in the Twin Cities to cut your own holiday tree.

Dad carrying Christmas Tree into House as Kids Cheer -Where to Buy Real Christmas Tree in the Twin Cities

TWIn Cities Holiday Events This Weekend

Weekend Holiday Festivals & Events

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 11-12, 2021

Christmas at Dakota City Heritage Village 

Make holiday crafts, take a ride on a horse-drawn trolley, listen to festive music at the church, enjoy hot cocoa at the Drug Store, and spy Santa. Buildings will be illuminated inside and out throughout the village. Tickets: $5/pp.

Dakota City General Store decorated for Christmas with wreaths and lights.

Christmas at the Riverview Theater

This weekend only, the retro-cool theater in Minneapolis is screening holiday favorites like Elf, White Christmas & It’s a Wonderful Life. Tickets are $4/pp or $2 w/ food shelf donation. Check site for show times.

European Christmas Market at Union Depot

A free event to attend with the opportunity to shop for unique, handmade gifts and decorations as well as nosh on holiday treats. Located at St Paul’s historic Union Depot. Open weekends, Fri 4-9pm, Sat 10am-8pm & Sun 11am-6pm.

Gingerbread Wonderland at Norway House

A signature holiday tradition, Gingerbread Wonderland returns for its 5th Anniversary. Located in Minneapolis. $5/pp kids FREE.

Holidays on the Hill at James J Hill House

Take a self-guided Christmas tour of the historic mansion and hear about the family’s holiday traditions. Located in St Paul, $8-$12/pp.

The Northern Express – A Complete Christmas Wonderland

Tanadoona, 3300 Tanadoona Dr, Excelsior, MN 55331
An immersive North Pole experience. Explore Santa’s workshop, kitchen and more, meet reindeer, Christmas llamas, or Clydesdales, take pictures with Santa himself, and get lost in the Christmas Tree forest. Vendors and makers selling their wares.  Thru December 19, 2021. Fri 12pm-10pm, Sat 10am-1pm, Sun 10am-8pm; Admission: Adults $18; Children $13; 2 and under – free.

White Bear Lake Winterfest

Horse drawn trolley rides, photos with Santa, carolers and shopping. 

SATURDAY, DEC 11, 2021 ONLY

Holiday Night Trains At Twin City Model Railroad Museum

A special holiday tradition at the Twin City Model Railroad Museum, the Night Trains season magically transforms the museum layouts. Buildings and street lights glow, and throughout the museum the layouts are adorned with Christmas lights. Located in St Paul. 3-7pm, $15/pp.

Twin Cities Holiday Lights Displays

University of Minnesota’s Winter Light Show

THIS WEEKEND ONLY! Students have arranged their annual display of 250,000+ LED lights that dance in sync with tunes. Dec 9-11, 2021. 15-min shows at 5:30, 6 & 6:30pm. 

The Christmas Story in Lights at Wayzata Community Church 

Drive through and pause at 8 stations telling the Christmas story in bright lights, music, and narration. Thurs-Sun, Dec. 3-27th; 6pm-9pm.

Wintertime in Stillwater

Downtown Stillwater, Stillwater MN 55082
There’s extra twinkle in the city’s historic downtown district this year. Chestnut Street has a pedestrian winter wonderland area where you can enjoy a free LED light show set to music and the mile drive of Main Street is covered with snowflake decorations and rooftop lights. Drive it, walk it, shop it – all beautiful choices. Begins the Friday after Thanksgiving. 5-10pm nightly. FREE!

Downtown Stillwater Minnesota lit up for the Holidays 2020

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: $10-$25/pp.

GLOW Holiday Festival

Minnesota State Fairgrounds, 1265 Snelling Ave N, St Paul, MN 55108
Enjoy a parade of dozens of  seasonal scenes featuring over a million holiday lights, a 100-foot illuminated tree and other attractions. The festival has added a “sElfie Plaza”, a 3-story ice palace and a food court. Thru Jan 2, 2022, 4:30 pm-9/10 pm; Tickets $12.75 to $75/pp.

For the whole sparkling scoop on the best holiday light displays in the Twin Cities, visit our 2021 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? Somehow he manages to be all over the Twin Cities! Take your pick from shopping malls, community festivals and even a streetcar decked out for Christmas. For further planning, check our Twin Cities Santa-finder page or check out the details below on our holiday festival calendar.

WEEKEND SANTA HIGHLIGHT! Santa’s Train Shop at Minnesota Transportation Museum

The museum transforms into Santa’s Train Shop with live music, activities, train rides, pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Located in St Paul, Dec 11 & 12, 2021, $7-$13/pp.

Santa at Holiday Night Trains – Twin City Model Railroad Museum

A special holiday tradition at the Twin City Model Railroad Museum, the Night Trains season magically transforms the museum layouts. Buildings and street lights glow, and throughout the museum the layouts are adorned with Christmas lights. Santa will join in the fun Dec 11! Located in St Paul. $15/pp.

Skate with Santa at Maple Grove Central Park

Maple Grove Central Park, 12000 Central Parkway, Maple Grove, MN 55369
Grab your ice skates (or rent them at the pavilion, $7) and join Santa at the ice skating loop with holiday music, a light show and more. Dec 11, 5-8pm, FREE admission.

Santa’s Workshop at Landmark Center

Snap a free pic with Santa and then enjoy games, story time and gift-making. December 12, 2021; 1-3pm, FREE.

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

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

Free Ink Day at Minneapolis Institute of Art

Drop by to explore some of the materials and techniques on view in the newest exhibition and pick up a kit of materials to make their own artwork at home. Dec 11-12, 2021, 10 a.m.–2 p.m.

Puppet Adventures & Let’s Get Started 

Silverwood Park, St Anthony
Watch the animal puppets of Silverwood Park stop Trasher the Trash Can, then make an art project related to the show. Performance at 1 PM; drop in anytime for artmaking activities. Dec 12, 1-3pm, FREE.

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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