2020 Twin Cities Early Holiday Events & Christmas Tree Lightings

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These Twin Cities early holiday events can get you started on your 2020 holiday family fun without the full-on pressure of late December.

Please note that gatherings have been restricted through mid-December. Live events have been cancelled; keep scrolling for virtual fun!

-Updated 11/11/2020

We want to help you plan for a festive holiday season even in the midst of this global pandemic we are living in. We will continue to update this as event details become available. Please keep coming back to check it out.

For our complete guide to holiday happenings in the Twin Cities, jump over HERE.


ST PAUL: Union Depot Tree Lighting VIRTUAL EVENT
Catch the giant tree light up through Union Depot’s Facebook page, then plan a drive-by later on. It will be lit through December on the North Plaza. Dec 4, 7pm.

ST PAUL: Rice Park Tree Lighting Ceremony | St Paul – VIRTUAL EVENT
Rice Park will dazzle with thousands of twinkling lights throughout the winter. Catch the virtual tree lighting or drive by in your car. The holiday lights will be up through February 2021. Nov 20.


OSSEO: Osseo MiniDazzle Tree Lighting | Boerboom Veterans Park
Light Parade and tree lighting at 6pm. Pictures with Santa, a bonfire and other entertainment follows. Dec 4, 6-8pm.


TAYLORS FALLS: Taylors Falls Lighting Festival
The annual tree lighting takes place at 6pm downtown. Festival highlights include the Santa Parade, Christmas at the Folsom House, storytime with Mrs. Claus and wagon rides. Nov 27-29, 2020.


APPLE VALLEY: Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony
Complete with caroling, cookies and cider. Nov 24, 6:15-7pm.

BURNSVILLE: Winter Lighting Ceremony | Nicollet Commons Park – VIRTUAL EVENT
The annual event is streaming live this year from the park. Nov 25, 6-6:45pm. 

EAGANEagan Community Tree Lighting | Eagan Community Center – DRIVE BY
The community tree lighting has been cancelled, but the lights will be on beginning Dec 8th, so add it to your drive-by list.

INVER GROVE HEIGHTS: Holidays in the Heights Tree LightingEVENT CANCELLED
Tree lighting at 6pm, entire event runs 5:30-8:30pm with free swimming with Santa, holiday storytime, games and treats. Dec 4.


CHANHASSEN: Tree Lighting Ceremony – VIRTUAL EVENT
The tree lights up at 5pm – follow along virtually on their social media page. Dec 5.

WAYZATA: Light Up the Lake Celebration | Plaza Park, Wayzata – EVENT CANCELLED
Holiday music, an enhanced holiday lights display, warm fire pits, and Santa visits Wayzata in the annual Parade of Lights, 5:15pm. Nov 27, 5-7pm.

2020 Twin Cities Early Holiday Events


Night Trains | Twin City Model Railroad Museum, St Paul
A special holiday tradition at the Twin City Model Railroad Museum, the Night Trains season magically transforms the museum layouts. Buildings and street lights glow, and throughout the museum the layouts are adorned with Christmas lights. Ongoing Saturdays, Oct 31, 2020-Feb 27 2021, 3-7pm. $15/pp, Under 5 Free MUSEUM IS CURRENTLY CLOSED

Christmas lights at the American Swedish Museum
image courtesy of American Swedish Museum

An extra/ordinary Holiday in Extraordinary Times| American Swedish Institute, Minneapolis
This year’s event includes ASI’s annual Julmarknad Holiday Market running November 14 – December 20: featuring a virtual market, a selection of in-person artisan vendors at outdoor market stalls and a Virtual Day with chances to shop and connect further with artists. The Julglädje (Christmas Joy) join-in family performance will be offered online, in addition to a virtual Lucia Celebration concert.  Exhibition runs  Thursdays-Sundays, Nov 14-Jan 10, 2021, 10 am-4 pm, $6-$12 or FREE for ASI members or children under 5. Reservations required. MUSEUM IS CURRENTLY CLOSED, SEE ASI’s VIRTUAL EVENTS!

Holiday Open House | Northern Clay Center, Minneapolis
Shop for handmade gifts and pick up out hands-on activities to do at home. Nov 15, 12-4pm, FREE.

Christmas at the Courthouse | Stillwater – CANCELLED EVENT
Kick off the holiday season with Christmas at the Courthouse at the Washington County Historic Courthouse. In 2020, the event has been extended into a week-long festivity beginning on November 16 with the Story Stroll, activities throughout the week, and ending Friday, November 20-Sunday, November 22 with the Holiday Bazaar. Reservations for the Bazaar are required for everyone (including children). Nov 16-22, $3/person

Christmas at the Courthouse

GLOW Holiday Festival | Minnesota State Fairgrounds, St. Paul
The Great Minnesota Holiday Get-Together is a one-mile drive-thru with a dozen seasonal scenes featuring over a million holiday lights, a 100-foot illuminated tree, icicle and art installations, a festive gingerbread house, and other attractions. After the drive-thru experience, guests will have the chance to purchase a selection of Minnesota State Fair food favorites.  Nov 19-Jan 3, 2021, 4:30 pm-9/10 pm, Tickets $46, One car/ticket

Holiday Walk in the Woods Open House | The Woods Gifts, Woodbury
Socially Distance Event: Visit with Santa and his reindeer at this annual Holiday shopping event. Activities include, a visit from Santa and his reindeer, stories, face painting, and food demos. Saturday, Nov 21, 10am-4pm, FREE. Covid Safety Precautions are listed here.

Santa & Albert’s (Virtual) Annual Holiday Play
See the duo perform in “Christmas Magic Mischief”, this year’s edition of Bachman’s annual holiday play. Tune into Bachman’s Facebook page at 10 a.m. on Saturdays, Nov 21-Dec 19. Have fun interacting with Santa and Albert! Nov 28, 10am. FREE.

Virtual Sundays at Landmark: Holiday Story Series
Tune in to Landmark Center’s Sundays at Landmark webpage and social media pages for “Christmas Stories with J.B. Eckert.” Local storyteller Eckert has written three original Christmas stories that are engaging for all ages. Nov 29, 1-2pm. FREE.

The tradition has gone virtual this year with The Holidazzle Show offered Nov 27, Dec 3, 10 & 17. The show features a visit from Santa, holiday project ideas, entertainment, and gift ideas. Nov 27-Dec 17, 2020.

Map out your holiday lights tour: Light It Up: Twin Cities Christmas & Holiday Light Displays


That jolly old guy sure can get around! Santa starts accepting visitors as early as the beginning of November. You can find many early Holiday events featuring Santa appearances over on our Santa Claus is Coming to Town page, including visits at community holiday festivals and at area malls and shopping districts.

Go to Pg. 2 to see last year’s lighting events. Even if there is no public ceremony in 2020, these locations will be lit in December.

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