Family Fun Twin Cities is counting down to the holiday season and the new year with the best hand-picked events for families in the month of December. For more ideas for family fun in December check out our:
- TWIN CITIES ULTIMATE CHRISTMAS & HOLIDAY GUIDE
- TWIN CITIES DECEMBER FAMILY EVENTS & ACTIVITIES GUIDE
- 50 FREE THINGS TO DO IN DECEMBER IN THE TWIN CITIES
Light up a holiday tree
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 all of our favorites in December on our TWIN CITIES HOLIDAY TREE LIGHTINGS page. Think it would be fun to start a holiday tradition of cutting your own Christmas tree? That’s exactly what our FFTC team member Joy and her family did this year. Get their tips for making memories on our list of the best places in the Twin Cities area to cut your own real tree at a Christmas tree farm.
Get out and enjoy a holiday festival in December
All the ingredients for a perfect family holiday outing are present in our break-down of the best in the Twin Cities. We tell you where Santa’s going to make an appearance, where you can catch a holiday tree lighting, tackle your holiday shopping list, find the fireworks, bonfires, sleighrides and sparkling light displays. We break down the holiday festivals by region of the Twin Cities Metro area so it’s convenient to find one close by. Our top picks by region include:
MINNEAPOLIS-ST PAUL CENTRAL METRO
1382 Willow St., Minneapolis, MN 55403
The festival continues into December weekends through December 18, 2022. Holidazzle offers free admission to all, vendors, activities, food, visits with Santa, carnival rides and fireworks. Back again in 2022, visit Peavey Plaza in Downtown Minneapolis to see the Interactive Illuminated Yeti made from upcycled materials between.
TWIN CITIES NORTHWEST METRO
The tree will be lit, the carols will be sung, and Santa will be taking visitors. Plus horse-drawn trolley rides and bonfires to keep warm. December 3, 2022.
TWIN CITIES NORTHEAST METRO
Downtown Stillwater, 100 Main Street, Stillwater, MN 55082
Main Street lights up with Christmas decorations and traditional events for a month-long celebration from Nov. 19, 2022 to New Year’s Eve.
TWIN CITIES SOUTHEAST METRO
Holz Farm, 4669 Manor Drive, Eagan, Minnesota 55123
Come visit Santa’s reindeer at this 1940s-era event. Also enjoy hayrides, a bonfire, carols, and treats. Dec. 4, 2022; 12-3pm.
TWIN CITIES SOUTHWEST METRO
Tanadoona, 3300 Tanadoona Dr, Excelsior, MN 55331
An immersive North Pole experience. Explore Santa’s workshop, kitchen and more, meet reindeer, Christmas llamas, or Clydesdales, take pictures with Santa himself, and get lost in the Christmas Tree forest. Vendors and makers selling their wares. Dec. 3-Dec. 18, 2022; Admission: $15-$20/pp.
For our complete listing of Minneapolis-St Paul area holiday festivals, jump over to our HOLIDAY FESTIVAL & TREE LIGHTINGS page and get all the details.
Holiday trains in the station
Trains captivate year-round (just check out all the places to interact with them in the Twin Cities) but they’re especially magical around the holiday season. We always include a special segment of holiday activities devoted to trains for this reason. Our very favorite holiday train event is SANTA’S TRAIN SHOP at the MINNESOTA TRANSPORTATION MUSEUM in St Paul. Santa’s Train Shop is one of the more unique holiday events in the Twin Cities. What better place for a little (or big) trainiac to hand over their Christmas list? The museum is located in the historic Jackson Street Roundhouse and gives kids a chance to explore real train cars, tinker with hands-on exhibits and take a ride on a train car decorated for Christmas. Weekends only, Dec 3-18, 2022. Tickets: $9-$18/pp or $50/family.
Other Twin Cities holiday events with trains include:
- HOLIDAY NIGHT TRAINS at Twin City Model Railroad Museum
- CANADIAN PACIFIC HOLIDAY TRAIN
- NORTH POLE EXPRESS at Union Depot
Wintry fun: sledding hills & skating rinks open for the season
Mid to late December is when the ice skating rinks are flooded and open for your own personal Ice Capades. Or for your little future Gretzkys, whatever the case may be. Colder temps and snowfall also bring optimal conditions for sledding and snow tubing. We’ve compiled a local outdoor ICE SKATING RINK FINDER, a best SLEDDING HILLS GUIDE and an exciting round up of the best SNOW TUBING HILLS so you can scout new places to enjoy these classic winter pastimes.
A Twin Cities holiday onstage
A Christmas Carol is the classic tale of Ebeneezer Scrooge’s change of heart during the holiday season. When my 12-year-old son, who is reading the Dickens classic in school, asked if we’d take him to the show this year, I knew I needed to add this to the list. This story is something special if he’s making that kind of request. The Guthrie recommends the show for kids ages 8 & up; this could be a great date with your tween. For more family theater options for all ages, check our guide to Christmas on the Stage.
Have yourself a historical little Christmas
Celebrate the season by discovering traditions that Minnesotans were enjoying around the turn of the twentieth century.
Christmas in the Village | Dakota City Heritage Village, Farmington
The village will be lit and decorated for the holiday. Make your way through the buildings to get a taste of holiday cooking, watch selections of A Christmas Carol, visit St Nick, take a horse-drawn trolley ride, and join in caroling. Dec 3-4 & 10-11, 2022, 1-8pm. $4-$7/pp.
Holidays On the Hill | James J Hill House, St Paul
The grand mansion of the railroad magnate and his family is open and decorated for families to explore and make a special Christmas craft. Select dates November 25-27 & December 1-31, 2022. $18/pp.
Santa’s comin’ to town!
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 our HUGE list of HERE COMES SANTA IN THE TWIN CITIES.
- Holidazzle | Loring Park, Minneapolis
Santa makes appearances Thurs-Sun starting Nov 25, 2022, see website for times. Lots more free to love at Holidazzle, see details below.
- Santa’s Workshop | Landmark Center, St Paul
Snap pics with Santa, meet a pair of his reindeer, play games and made some handmade holiday gifts at the craft tables. Dec 11, 2022, 1pm.
Enjoy the best holiday lights displays
For our master list of holiday light shows and displays in the Twin Cities, click here. We have been working hard to ensure that all the entries are verified and as up-to-date as possible; we don’t want anyone left in the dark.
One of our free favorites: More than 250,000 lights decorate the courtyard of the Civil Engineering Building during this holiday time tradition. Students have designed a 15-minute show that has the lights dancing for onlookers.
Ring in the New Year in the Twin Cities
Ring in 2023 with one of these family-friendly Twin Cities New Years Eve events.