Pocket your extra cash for the holiday season and take advantage of all the free family fun in the Twin Cities during the month of December. We’ve found these 10 Free Things To Do in December in the Twin Cities. Did we miss anything? Leave us a comment.
1) Free sledding & ice skating
Bundle up and go out to play! Metro-wide free outdoor ice skating rinks are open daily; many have warming facilities and lighting, some have free skates to loan! Find our directory of rinks here or below on the graphic. Twin Cities sledding hills are also in abundance, and we’ve got plenty of free options for you.
2) Santa sightings
Bring your own camera to these free events and capture photos of a visit with Jolly Old St Nick. For more places to spot Santa across the Twin Cities, jump over to Here Comes Santa Claus.
- Santa & Albert’s Holiday Play | Bachman’s on Lyndale, Richfield | Weekends through Dec 16, 3 or 4 shows daily | Join in Christmas carols after the show and meet Santa.
- Holidazzle | Loring Park, Minneapolis | Santa makes appearances Thurs-Sun starting Nov 23, see website for times | Lots more free to love at Holidazzle, see details below.
- Santa’s Workshop | Landmark Center, St Paul | 1-3pm | Snap pics with Santa, meet a pair of his reindeer, play games and made some handmade holiday gifts at the craft tables.
3) Tree lightings
Lighting and decorating an evergreen tree has been a custom for many cultures spanning hundreds of years. The Twin Cities contains many communities that continue to keep this tradition illuminated. We’ve listed some of our favorites in December here; both take place Saturday, Dec 1:
Anoka Hometown Holiday Celebration | Historic downtown Anoka is merry with horse-drawn trolly rides, holiday music, bonfires and Santa Claus. Countdown to the tree lighting at City Hall. 3-7pm.
Blaine’s Christmas Tree Lighting & Harbor Lights | Community tree lighting, visits with Santa, free refreshments and a display of lighted and decorated boats at Blaine Harbor Visitor Dock. 4:30-7pm.
4) More free holiday festivals – Saturday, Dec 1 & Dec 8
Stillwater Twinkle Party & Tree Lighting
Free twinkle lights to pass out for kids 12 & under, music by the Teddy Bear Band, free cookies and warm drinks, trolley rides and the city’s tree lighting ceremony. 12/1/18, 4-6pm.
Reindeer Day at Linden Hills | Minneapolis
Hop a free trolley ride to area business bustling with marshmallow roasting, Santa and his reindeer, carolers and in-store events. 10am-2pm.
Plymouth Old Fashioned Christmas | Plymouth Creek Park
Visit Santa, his missus, the elves and his reindeer. Catch a hayride, cookies and holiday tale time. 12/8/18, 2-5pm.
5) Winter Wisdom | Maplewood Nature Center
If you can’t beat winter, why not join it? This family-friendly workshop will help you prepare to stay warm outdoors on the coldest days. Learn how to stay insulated, make a winter emergency kit for the car and other activities. If there’s enough snow, strap on a pair of snowshoes and take a hike. Ages 6+, registration required. 12/1/18, 1-3pm.
Come visit Santa at this 1940’s era event at Holz Farm. Also enjoy hayrides, a bonfire, carols, live reindeer and treats. All activities are FREE. 12/8/2019, 12-3:30pm.
7) Neighborhood Holiday Open House | American Swedish Institute, Minneapolis
Free admission to come get a peek at Handmade Holidays, ASI’s seasonal celebration, and the brand new Tom’s Christmas Fish exhibit in the Family Gallery. 12/12/18, 5-8pm.
8) Holidazzle weekend activities
Beyond Santa Claus, all the ingredients for a perfect family holiday outing are right here in Loring Park: the ice rink is stocked with free loaner skates, outdoor movies (many of them holiday classics) and fireworks are on display select evenings, and you can get your shopping list tackled among the many vendors. There’s also an obstacle course for kids and interactive art. Holidazzle runs Fri-Sun through Dec 23. All activities are free of charge.
9) Visit a live nativity
A twist on live theater during the month of December. You need not be a member of the congregation or attend a church service in order to attend one of these live nativities; performances are free and open to the public.
- 12/14/18-12/15/18: Live Nativity | Knollwood Christian Church, St Louis Park
- 12/15/18 & 12/22/18: Living Nativity | St Stephen’s Lutheran Church, White Bear Lake
- 12/16/18: Living Nativity | Messiah United Methodist Church, Plymouth
10) Noon Years Eve Party | Como Zoo & Conservatory Visitor Center, St Paul
Ring in the new year while they can still keep their eyes open with games, dancing and music from the DJs of the Kidsdance. There will be noise-maker making, special animal enrichment, zoo keeper talks, giveaways, and a countdown to noon when hundreds of beach balls will be dropped from the ceiling. 10am – 1pm. Also takes place on 1/1/19.