The Landmark Center is a historical building right in the heart of downtown St. Paul. It was once the federal building for the city which included courtrooms and the post office. Today it is a landmark (ha!) and houses not only the historical information of the building but also many different museums. Each fall through spring, the Landmark hosts Sunday family events, aptly named “Sundays at Landmark”. The 2022-2023 season begins September 18, 2022 with the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. The series also includes the Landmark Center’s popular Urban Expeditions starting mid-January, which take you to a different country to experience the culture firsthand for FREE without the need to leave the Twin Cities.
Ongoing Landmark Events and Exhibits
While the Sundays at the Landmark events are a good reason by themselves to schedule a visit for a Sunday, families will find plenty more to explore and do on a Sunday afternoon, including building tours (held at 12:30pm every Sunday), gallery visits to permanent and rotating exhibits – including the popular Schubert Club Music Museum, the Gallery of Wood Art and more.
2023-24 Sundays at Landmark Schedule
The 2022/2023 season will be all in-person events. Most programs begin at 1 pm and are free and open to the public, unless otherwise noted.
- September 17: Mid-Autumn Moon Festival; 1pm-3pm; Free.
- September 24: Top of the Tower Tour
- October 15: Japanese Taiko Drumming, TaikoArts Midwest; 1pm-2pm; Free.
- October 22: Saint Paul Civic Symphony Concert
- October 29: Great Pumpkin Halloween Festival
- December 10: Santa’s Workshop
- December 17: Minnesota Mandolin Orchestra
- January 7: Minnesota Boychoir Winter Concert
- January 21: Urban Expedition – Argentina
- January 28:: Saint Paul Civic Symphony Concert: “Hot & ‘Cool’ Classics!”
- February 11: Urban Expedition – Australia and New Zealand
- February 18: Mosaic Festival: Dance and Music of World Cultures $4/$6
- February 25: Urban Expedition – France
- March 10: Urban Expedition – Brazil
- March 16: St. Patrick’s Day Irish Celebration* $7/$9
- March 17: An Irish Day of Dance $7/$9
- April 7: Urban Expedition – Ivory Coast
- April 14: Skylark Opera Theatre
- April 21: Light in the Well (Reservations Required)
- April 28: BandWidth Community Band Festival
- May 12: Saint Paul Civic Symphony Annual Mother’s Day Concert
Sundays at Landmark: Urban Expeditions
Urban Expedition is one of the more popular Sundays at Landmark events! Held on scheduled Sundays from 1:00 – 3:00 pm, the Landmark Center transforms into a center of cultural whirlwind. This year’s expeditions have yet to be announced, but we will add that information here when its released. Each Urban Expedition will be unique to the country visited, but they each have certain elements in common, food, traditional customs, crafts and active participation are a part of each expedition. To give a better idea, I’ve outlined a visit of our own.
My daughters and I gave Urban Expedition a try in 2013, when we visited the land of Argentina. However, our first adventure — once we made it to St. Paul — was finding parking. Street Parking is free on Sundays, but it’s not easy to find. I recommend finding a parking ramp along Wabasha Street instead of by the Xcel Energy Center. They will be much more inexpensive along Wabasha Street, and it’s just a couple of blocks away.
When we first entered the building, we were greeted with animals native to Argentina: llamas, alpacas, goats, a giant Flemish rabbit, and a big rodent of unpronounceable name. I wasn’t super thrilled with the rodent, but the other animals were adorable. I kept referring to The Emperor’s New Groove for a point of reference for my children.
From the animals, we walked into the Musser Cortile room where the programming was started. Culture presentations and tango demonstrations as well as a folk dance workshop took place here inviting you to have a whole body experience. We sat down to enjoy the dancing only to be asked to stand and participate in the Chacarera (a traditional Argentinian dance).
We learned the baseball move–to go around the diamond, we learned how to run a home run–to turn in a circle, and half of us learned to shine the floor and the other half perfected the baseball move. All the while with our hands in the air. It was hilarious!
When we tired of the dancing activity, we checked out the other activities. They were spread around the entire room. We picked up our passport and got our passport photos taken. The girls made tissue paper flowers to wear in their hair.
I tried an empanada. The girls didn’t think they would like them because they were told they were hot: which ultimately they interpreted as spicy….but they weren’t spicy. They were really good.
And we colored postcards and sent them to our family! REALLY! The Landmark Center mailed them for us. The only problem was that we needed to know the addresses…so Grandma K will be receiving 2 postcards and Grandma F hopefully 1 ( I cannot remember their zip code to save my life).
This whole event was co-presented by the Tango Society of Minnesota (TSOM). For the last hour of the event, dancers from the TSOM performed different tango dances. I’m glad their were other things to do. This part wasn’t as exciting as I was hoping.
Ultimately, the girls loved the tango (and that’s the most important thing), but I don’t think I understand dance enough to be impressed. What I saw was a bunch of couples standing too close to each other to move.
However, I did learn that Argentinian men don’t ask women to dance with their mouths. They ask them to dance with their eyes (oooooh), and if the women don’t want to dance, they avoid eye contact at all cost!
- It wasn’t very busy. There was plenty of room to move around and wasn’t overly crowded.
- The staff/volunteers were very welcoming and kind (minus one who was a little grumpy).
- There was a wide variety of activity and something for everyone to enjoy.
- It was interactive. Learning to dance the Chacarera was especially fun with the engaging gaucho (Argentinian cowboy)
- The other museums are open to enjoy.
- There isn’t a lot of parking right next to the Landmark Center. Since parking was free, every spot on the street was full (not that I’m good at parallel parking anyway, but you may be)
- If you come in the wrong door, you may go through everything backwards. So if you do, just know that if you walk straight, you will run into the correct area to enjoy the festivities.
- We missed the free tour at noon–this would not be a disadvantage for you, but it was for us.
- They hold Urban Expedition in cold winter months in Minnesota. It’s hard to get out the door when it’s that cold. But don’t wait until April because it’s totally worth going, even in the cold!
Make a Day of It:
If you want to combine the outing with nearby St. Paul activities, try these ideas:
- Explore Rice Park and all its bronze Peanuts sculptures. Rice Park is just across 5th Street from the Landmark Center.
- The cross 4th Street to George Latimer Central Library, with its great children’s section. It is open from 1-5pm on Sundays.
- Keep going across Kellogg Boulevard to the Science Museum of Minnesota. Even if you don’t want to do a full Science Museum visit, the lobby and the Mississippi National River & Recreation Area Visitor Center, which are free to visit.
We encourage you to take advantage of these free cultural events. They are a fun way to explore the world right here in the Twin Cities.