Right along the Nicollet Mall between 4th St. and 12th St. in downtown Minneapolis, you can experience a little bit of Christmas magic in the Holidazzle Parade each Friday and Saturday evening from November 29 until December 21st.
From 6:30 to 7:00 pm the streetlights are turned off, and the holiday parade lights are turned on. And you can enjoy the cold brisk Minnesota air and celebrate the season in a truly fantastical way. This is the last season of the Holidazzle, so if you’ve never experienced the tradition or need to make sure you see it again, you’ll want to make a point to get this holiday season.
We arrived by 5:30 to claim a spot on the curb. This was a very good idea since by 6:00, the street was packed with people and we were saving space for 12. It was also not a super cold night. So since it was a pretty wonderful December evening, it was very busy along the Mall. We brought a blanket and for the most part, 6 of the 8 kids were able to fit on it.
As we waited for our friends to arrive, we were entertained by the dazzle sellers–whatever kind of light up gizmo you wanted could be purchased for a price. Also, the MIA was offering Rickshaw rides (or as one sign said, “A One Man Open Sleigh”) up and down the road in front of us. They looked like fun and kids rode for free, but there was a price for an adult ride.
We brought snacks, but if you were hungry, refreshments were available for purchase.
Right before the parade started, the streetlights were shut off and there was a collective gasp of awe. I, myself, cracked up. It was hilarious! However, to get the full effect of the parade, the street needed to be a dark as possible.
Our friends arrived and we took a picture of our children who were (for all practical purposes) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8.
And then the parade started.
Some tips to enjoy the Holidazzle
- Don’t park in the 8th Street Ramp. It took us over an hour to get out and on the road. It’s the closest one and the busiest. You will get stuck in a traffic jam trying to get to the stairs and the elevator. The Crowne Plaza Hotel ramp is $1 more ($6 instead of $5), but that extra dollar is totally worth it. Our friends from Champlin texted us as we were in line in the ramp waiting to get out and they were almost home. Go for the Crown Plaza, people. If you do park in the 8th street ramp, you might as well get in line at Candyland and enjoy a delicious confectionary treat before you brave the parking ramp itself.
- Arrive at 5:30 if you want a spot in the front of the sidewalk. It gets really crowded and pushy. And Bring a blanket. It will help to keep your bottom a little warmer and help to stake your spot.
- Have everyone go to the bathroom before you get outside. Fighting through the crowds is not fun when you have a little one who needs to use the facilities.
- Remember to have fun. People will be pushy and people will jockey to get around you, but you aren’t there for them. If your kids are having fun or if you are looking forward to seeing the lights, then it’s all worth it.
Some of the highlights for me.
- It was fun when the streetlights turned off.
- The people in the parade who walked by us usually tried to give as many people a high five as they could. The kids loved that.
- They didn’t stop the traffic on 7th street so the parade had to stop at each red light to wait for a green light to continue. That cracked me up!
- The Circus train was the best float. All my kids loved it!
- My favorite characters were the Christmas lightbulbs. Each lightbulb was a man/woman, and they walked down the street separately bending wwwwaaaaaayyy over into your faces. They were hilarious! If I ever was able to volunteer for the Holidazzle parade, I would so want to be a Christmas lightbulb.
The Holidazzle parade has been a Christmas tradition in the Twin Cities for years, and it is definitely a fun experience! Don’t miss out. There are four weekends to catch the fun before it’s gone forever!
good photos courtesy of Patrick Kelley