Hometown Christmas in the Twin Cities

Interior of Glensheen Mansion in Duluth Minnesota decorated for Christmas, with a Christmas tree and wreath.

Is it even possible to have a hometown Christmas in the middle of Twin Cities?  You better believe it. And if you are looking for a small midwestern town, we have a couple road trips for you to consider, too.

Many of these places have their local Christmas celebrations early in the season–late November or early December.  If you end up missing the festivals, you will still get that Hallmark-Christmas-movie, hometown vibe  by choosing to shop in these quaint communities.

Hometown Christmas in the Twin Cities


The annual Hometown Holiday Celebration in City Square Park includes a Santa visit, a Christmas llama, music, and old-fashioned horse-drawn carriage rides. There will be a tree lighting ceremony at 5pm. December 3, 2022.

Family Fun Ideas:

  • Chaska is a perfect choice to cozy up in your car for a Christmas lights drive. Cruise by the Snook Family Lights (1188 Wildwood Way) and Christmas on Savanna (4441 Savanna Trail). Both homes synchronize their lights to music on FM91.9.
  • For a special holiday treat, visit the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Winter Lights. ($25/adults; children are free). Make sure to buy your passes online in advance and be aware that this attraction is known for sold-out tours at peak times. We think this is one of the best outdoor holiday lights displays in the Minneapolis-St Paul area.
  • Learn more about all of these sites in our Holiday Lights Guide.


Not only does this sweet village host their annual weekend Christkindlsmarkt, but the town is cram-packed with lots of fun shopping and decorations throughout the season to add to the joy of Christmas. 


This community holiday event kicks off with a parade on Friday at 10 am. Meet Father Christmas and some MN Vikings.  Ride the North Pole Trolley, enjoy festive music, meet some princesses, experience the tree lighting, and do some Christmas shopping.  The Children’s Lantern Parade is on Saturday at 4 pm. Friday, November 25-Sunday, November 27, 2022, 10 am-5 pm.

Family Fun Ideas:

  • Visit Excelsior Bay Books to count the Christmas Mice in the amazing holiday display window. Then go inside and tell the clerk how many you’ve counted to win a prize. Don’t forget that getting a book is equivalent to a warm hug. So buy some for close friends and family members.
  • A new attraction, Northern Express Christmas Village will operate in Camp Tanadoona on weekends in December. Experience the magic of Christmas with Santa visits, entertainment, live llamas and reindeers, winter activities and so much more. Tickets are $15-$22/pp.
Christmas Mouse in the window of Excelsior Bay Books in Excelsior, Minnesota


Lindstrom is full of shops to enjoy as well as beautifully decorated for the holidays. I grew up in a very happy-to-be-Swedish family (and some Norwegian, too), so the Scandinavian Christmas decorations are especially nostalgic for me.

Lindstrom hosts its Holiday Craft Fair and Tree Lighting Ceremony this year on Saturday, December 3, 2022.  You can make it a day of it by visiting 3 local craft fairs around the communities including Center City Fire Department Holiday Boutique and Bake Sale as well as Chisago Lake Lutheran Church’s Christmas Bazaar.  If you can’t make it to the craft fair, you won’t be disappointed in the local shopping later in the month.

Water tower in Lindstrom, Minnesota with shadow of Santa and sleigh behind it. "Velkommen to Lindstrom"
It’s kind of hazy, but I think Anne caught Santa in the background of this picture.


Stillwater is a favorite city to visit any time of the year, but this beloved tradition holds a special place in my heart around Christmas because that’s when my kids and I chased Santa Claus around town.  Stillwater’s Hometown for the Holidays gathering lasts the entire month of December. It includes carolers strolling the sidewalks and singing Christmas songs, elves hiding around corners, and all of Stillwater’s cute shops decorated up for the Holiday. Downtown Stillwater is the perfect place to shop for antiques and Christmas shop. So, you will find something happening every time you step out of a local shop.

Hometown for the Holidays: Weekends of November 19-December 31, 2022

Family Fun Ideas:

If you want to cruise for Christmas lights, options include:

    • The Twinkle Party & Tree Lighting December 2 and 3
    • Snowflake décor throughout Main Street that will stay up through mid-March
    • The Lowell Park Christmas Tree
    • The Historic Lift Bridge, lit up with Hollywood-style lights.
Santa walking away down the road in Stillwater, Minnesota
Santa in Stillwater. Catch him before it’s too late!

St Paul Union Depot 

The most authentic European Christmas Market in Minnesota is located at Union Depot each year featuring family-friendly entertainment & intercultural activities. Families can have a slow-paced, small-town shopping experience in the middle of the big city. Opening Day: Black Friday, November 25, 2022 and runs Friday-Sunday until Sunday, December 18, 2022. Friday Hours: 4 PM – 9 PM, Saturday Hours: 10 AM – 8 PM, Sunday Hours: 11 AM – 6 PM.

Some Saturdays they host other events at the same time like a bake sale or a community movie.

Family Fun Ideas:

Tree Lighting Ceremony at Union Depot in Saint Paul Minnesota 2014
Image courtesy of Union Depot. Credit: Art in the Sky Photography

White Bear Lake

Last year, I did all most extended family shopping right here.
I spent time in the following shops.  And there are plenty more.

  • GoodKids
  • Bamboo Switch
  • Sheepy Yarn
  • Sweetlane Life
  • Koselig Candle Company
  • Lake Country Booksellers.
  • And a coffee break in Anchor Coffee

I had the best time Christmas shopping for our family get-togethers.  And not only is it a fun place to shop, throughout December they have special Christmas activities. To learn more about Downtown White Bear Lake’s holiday events, click here.

Downtown White Bear Lake Holiday Open House: Thursday, November 10, 2022, 5 pm-8 pm.

Family Fun Ideas:

  • Every Hometown Christmas movie includes a visit to the town’s live Nativity. Stop by the Living Nativity at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church with music and live animals. It is FREE for the whole family.
  • The White Bear Lake Historical Society decorates the pine tree in front of the historic Fillebrown House each year. Drive or stroll by after dusk during your visit.
  • Another Hallmark moment must is ice skating. If weather permits, White Bear Lake maintains outdoor ice rinks at three parks:
    • Podvin Park, 1700 9th Street, White Bear Lake, MN 55110
    • Ramaley Park, 1883 Park Street, White Bear Lake, MN 55110
    • Spruce Park, 3653 McKnight Road, White Bear Lake, MN 55110
Members of the White Bear Lake Historical Society decorating the tree in front of the Fillebrown House in White Bear Lake Minnesota
Image courtesy of the White Bear Lake Historical Society.

Hometown Christmas Roadtrips


There is so much to do and see in Duluth during the winter, especially during the holidays.  You won’t be disappointed by the festive holiday lights including but not limited to Bentleyville.  Glensheen is the new home of Spirit of the Lights – a holiday lights display that decorated a private residence on Duluth’s Park Point for many years.

Find out more about what Duluth offers during the Christmas holidays by clicking here.

Family Fun Ideas:

fitgers in duluth
Fitgers in Duluth


Head down to Rochester early in the season and get some fun shopping done because Rochester is a really fun place to explore. During the holidays, there are markets popping up around town you don’t want to miss. Click here to get more information about Rochester’s holiday season.

Family Fun Ideas:

  • Peace Plaza is lit up for Christmas beginning Thanksgiving weekend, when Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus arrive each year. You can view the beautiful plaza anytime in December.
  • Saturday, November 26, 2022, 2pm-5pm — Here Comes Santa Claus, Downtown Rochester,  100 1st Avenue SW, Rochester, MN 55904. Free and All Ages. A multi-generational holiday tradition in Rochester, Here Comes Santa Claus includes saving Santa Claus from the roof of Residences of Old City Hall after he gets stuck, a tree lighting ceremony, and more holiday activities.
Mrs. Santa admiring art at the Here Comes Santa Claus event in downtown Rochester Minnesota
Image courtesy of Rochester Downtown Alliance 

Have a fun family day outside the mall, and enjoy the Holiday spirit on the hamlet streets, whether you have big plans for a jam-packed festival or just want some feelings of nostalgia for your childhood home as you shop, you can pack a lifetime of fun things and great memories into an afternoon in these fun Christmas towns.

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