Free Twin Cities December Family Events & Activities

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Who doesn’t love an extra helping of FREE events around the holiday season? Our Free Twin Cities December Family Events & Activities list is filled with Santa sightings, community Christmas and holiday events, and a hundred ways to save money while spending time with your family.


Thanks to ASI for being FFTC’s Seasonal Patron.

American Swedish InstituteJul love it! American Swedish Institute is the place for affordable family fun with Handmade Holidays,  decorated Mansion rooms and new Family Gallery. Don’t miss the monthly Kids and (new) Babies at the Castle gatherings.  Join in a musical story during the Julglädje “Christmas Joy” shows November 24-25. ASI’s Making Traditions weekends offer hands-on activities, Find-the-Tomte games and performances, while FIKA Café serves up tyke-sized bites. For more details, click here, call (612) 871-4907, or visit 2600 Park Ave.  Free parking!


TWIN CITIES DECEMBER SPECIAL EVENTS – FREE

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.

12/1/18: First Free Saturday | Walker Art Center, Minneapolis | 10am-3pm | Activities are geared towards kids ages 6-12, but don’t let that stop you from bringing your littler ones! Free gallery admission for the whole family.

12/1/18: Home Depot Kids Workshop: Gingerbread House | TC Home Depot locations | 9am-noon | The first Saturday of each month kids get a kit to build, apron and pin while supplies last; adults must accompany children.

12/1/18: Drop-in Discoveries: Reps & Phibs | Tamarack Nature Center, White Bear Lake | 10am-12

12/4/18: Free Tuesday @ Washington County Parks | SE Metro | Find a listing of parks here | Explore Washington County Parks with no vehicle permit required the first Tuesday of the month (non-holiday).

12/7/18: Forever Wild Family Friday | Lebanon Hills Regional Park Visitor Center, Eagan | 7-8:30pm | Drop in for smores and evening activities.

12/9/18: Family Day | Minneapolis Institute of Art | 11am-5pm | A full day of live musical performances and global dance traditions from Central and East Africa, the Americas, and beyond!

12/9/18: Family Art Sunday: Scandanavian Winter | Banfill-Locke Center, Fridley | 1-3pm

12/11/18: Ballet Tuesdays | Landmark Center, St. Paul | 12-1pm | Excerpts from the classics, perfect for budding ballerinas.

12/15/18: Creative Saturdays: Printmaking | Minneapolis Institute of Art | 10am-3pm | Create custom prints or a set of cards for the holidays.

12/16/18: Target Free 3rd Sunday | Minnesota Children’s Museum, St Paul | 9am-5pm | Explore the newly renovated and expanded museum free! Keep in mind that this program is very popular and you may wait in line to be admitted.

12/16/18: Family Fun Day: Sleep, Flee, Freeze | Carl Kroening Interpretive, Minneapolis | 1-3pm | Drop in for naturalist-led activities and self-guided exploration of the visitor center’s interactive exhibits.

Not yet announced for 2018:

Winter Fun Day | Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, Bloomington | 10am-4pm | Dress for outdoor winter activities, then warm up inside by the fireplace with books, puzzles, a scavenger hunt and nature films.

The following Twin Cities museums are FREE to visit:


TWIN CITIES HOLIDAY EVENTS – FREE ADMISSION

For all the details on these holiday events, jump over to our Twin Cities Holiday Festival Calendar.

Free Twin Cities December Family Events

11/18/17-12/17/17: Bachman’s: Santa & Albert Holiday Play & Sing Along
11/16/18-12/31/18: Hometown for the Holidays | Stillwater
11/23/18-12/23/18: Holidazzle | Minneapolis
11/23/18-11/25/18: Christmas in Excelsior
11/30/18-12/1/18: Afton Village Holiday

11/30/18-12/10/18: European Christmas Market | St Paul
11/30/18: CSE Winter Light Show Premiere | University of Minnesota, Minneapolis campus
11/30/18: Holiday Fest | Shakopee
12/1/18-12/2/18: Seward Winter Frolic | Minneapolis
12/1/18-12/2/18: Holiday Open Haus | Germanic-American Institute, St. Paul
12/1/18: Delano Old Fashioned Christmas
12/1/18: Anoka Hometown Holiday
12/1/18: Holiday Harbor Lights & Tree Lighting
| Downtown Blaine

12/1/18: Twinkle Party | Stillwater
12/1/18: North St Paul Holiday Hop
12/1/18: Grand Meander | St. Paul
12/1/18: Holiday on Main | Lakeville
12/1/18: Shop Excelsior Tree Lighting
12/1/18: Reindeer Day at Linden Hills | Minneapolis
12/2/18: Old Fashioned Holiday
| Holz Farm, Eagan
12/7/18: Winter in the Village | St Anthony Village
12/9/18-12/11/18: Canadian Pacific Holiday Train The brightly lit train will roll into the following Twin Cities-area stations accompanied by live music.

  • 12/9 – Hastings, arrives 8:30pm
  • 12/10 – Cottage Grove, 5:15pm
  • 12/10 — Union Depot, St Paul, 6:45pm
  • 12/11 — Golden Valley, 4:50pm
  • 12/11 — St Louis Park, 6pm
  • 12/11 – Minneapolis, 7:55pm
St. paul union depot

Courtesy Canadian Pacific

12/8/18: Plymouth Old Fashioned Christmas | Plymouth Creek Park
12/9/18: Santa’s Workshop | Landmark Center, St. Paul
12/12/18: Neighborhood Holiday Open House | American Swedish Institute, Minneapolis
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

Not yet announced for 2018:

1850’s Holiday Party | Ard Godfrey House, Minneapolis
Jerry’s Very Merry Santa Day | Jerry’s Foods, Woodbury

TWIN CITIES CHRISTMAS & HOLIDAY GUIDE

Our Christmas & Holiday Guide is decked out with all the trimmings of a fabulous family holiday season. Browse it for more FREE inspiration.

Free Twin Cities December Family Events

TWIN CITIES SANTA EVENTS – FREE

Searching for Santa? Browse our Here Comes Santa Claus post for FREE Santa meet-and-greet opportunities!

Free Twin Cities December Family Events

Here Comes Santa Claus

How about ogling some holiday light and music displays? Nearly all the venues in our Light It Up: Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota Christmas & Holiday Light Displays roundup cost just the gas it takes to get to them:

Free Twin Cities December Family Events


TWIN CITIES NEW YEARS EVE EVENTS – FREE

Free Twin Cities December Family Events

TBA: New Year’s Eve: Moonlight Circus | Mall of America | 7 & 9pm | Live Entertainment by Xelias Aerial Arts Studio including contortion, juggling, unicycle and more. A Family Countdown to the new year will take place at the south entrance to Nickelodeon Universe at 10pm.

12/31/18: Noon Year’s Party | Como Zoo & Conservatory Visitor Center, St Paul | 10am – 1pm | Come for 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. Also takes place on 1/1/19.


ONGOING DECEMBER WEEKENDS – FREE

Minneapolis Institute of Arts | Minneapolis | Daily, 11am-5pm

Como Park Zoo & Conservatory | St Paul | Daily, 10am-6pm | Suggested donation of $2/child & $3/adult, but all welcome whether or not you choose to donate. | Seasonal events include the Holiday Flower Show in the Conservatory’s sunken garden, storytime at noon, and animal programs throughout the day.

Saturday Live! | George Latimer Central Library, St Paul | 11:15am | Fresh entertainment every Saturday in December including live music, puppetry, magicians and more.

Lakeshore Learning Free Crafts for Kids | TC locations | Ongoing Saturdays, 11am-3pm

Nature Rocks! Open House | Eden Prairie Outdoor Center, Eden Prairie | 9am-noon | The first Saturday of each month enjoy free family-friendly activities such as hiking, hands-on interaction with live animals, craft projects and more.

Open House at Pond Dakota Mission Park | Bloomington | Ongoing Sundays in Dec, 1:30-4pm, please check the website first | FREE, donations appreciated | Come by the historic Gideon Pond house in the park for tours, living history lessons and other interactive activities.

December Free Family Fun Days | Three Rivers Parks
Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park (Brooklyn Park side of the river) Sundays, 1-3pm
Richardson Nature Center, Sundays, 3-4pm


ONGOING DECEMBER WEEKDAYS – FREE

Parent/Tot Time & Preschool Open Gym | Apple Valley Community Center | Ongoing Mon/Wed/ Fri, 9:30-11am | Ages 5 & under w/ caregiver | Burn off some energy with other kids, develop motor skills and coordination. A special tot time for tykes ages 2 & under is held from 9-9:30am followed by open play for 5 & under until 11.

MOA Toddler Tuesdays | Mall of America Rotunda | Ongoing Tuesdays, 10am – noon | Live entertainment and activities guaranteed to excite the stroller set. Upcoming event schedule here.

Free Tuesday Nights | Minnesota History Center, St Paul | Ongoing Tuesdays, 3-8pm

Wee Wednesdays | Midtown Global Market, Minneapolis | Ongoing Wednesdays, 10:30am – 1pm. In the past, MGM has offered dance troupes, cooking lessons, and live animals to entertain kids. Stay for lunch — there are many tasty ethnic vendors to choose from, and several offer specials on Wednesdays. Park in the adjacent Midtown Exchange Ramp up to 1.5 hrs. free with validation.

Games Galore | Union Depot, St Paul | Ongoing Wednesdays, 10am-8pm | Play giant-sized versions of classic games including chess, checkers, Connect Four, Dominoes and more.

Lil Explorer Thursdays | Como Park Zoo & Conservatory, St Paul | Ongoing Thursdays through April 2019, 10am-noon | 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.

Free Children’s Entertainment | Edinborough Park Amphitheater, Edina | Thursdays, noon


FREE WEEKLY TWIN CITIES ACTIVITIES

Free abounds in the Twin Cities. Many local bookstores, libraries and other businesses offer free storytimes during the week. Local coffee shops & cafes serve parents with free dedicated play spaces. Nature centers are wonderful places that  offer free admission and hands-on exhibits and outdoor play opportunities most days of the week. And dozens of St Paul & Minneapolis recreation centers offer free open gyms and tot times to run your littles ragged during the cooler months. Explore from our links below.

Top Kids Storytimes in the Twin CitiesKid-friendly Twin Cities Coffee Shops
Twin Cities Nature CentersSt Paul & Minneapolis Free Tot Times


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