Our Holiday Festival Guide is full of hometown festivals all dressed up in their holiday best and pumping out the Christmas cheer. Whether it’s a holiday tree lighting, a jolly ice skating event or a full-on festival with fireworks and light spectacles, we think attending one is quite simply the perfect way to kick off the holiday season in 2023. We’ve organized our holiday festival calendar into regions of the Twin Cities Metro to make it easier to find one close to home (or explore a new destination!) All holiday events are FREE unless noted.
Note: If you are looking for a list of Christmas decorated houses, with addresses categorized by the cities in which they are located, see this article:
Light It Up: Twin Cities’ Greater Minnesota Christmas & Holiday Light Displays
Jump to a Twin Cities Community
Minneapolis & St Paul Holiday Festivals & Christmas Tree Lightings
214 4th Street East, St. Paul, MN 55101
Catch the giant tree light up at 6:30pm followed by a screening of Elf at 7:30pm. December 2, 2023; 5-9pm.
The Nordic, 729 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401
Elves, live music and a tree lighting against a Downtown Minneapolis setting. December 6, 2023; 5:30-7:30pm.
109 W 4th St, St Paul, MN 55102
Once again to signal the start of the holiday season in St Paul, Rice Park will dazzle with thousands of twinkling lights and a 40-foot tree throughout the winter. Families can enjoy live music, holiday photo ops, hot cocoa, appearances by Santa and Mrs. Claus, Mayor Melvin Carter, and Vikings Legend Cris Carter. The holiday lights are traditionally up late through February. Friday, November 10, 2023 @ 5:30pm.
221 5th St E, St Paul, MN 55101
Mears Park in the Lowertown area of downtown St Paul lights up tonight. Dress for the weather and hit the link for details on a possible ornament hanging or exchange. November 18, 2023, 4:30pm.
Grand Avenue, St Paul, MN 55105
20 blocks of samples, specials, Vulcan fire truck rides, carolers and multiple venues to visit with Santa. Events run starting 8:30am through the afternoon. December 2, 2023.
Linden Hills, Minneapolis
The festive activities take place at local shops and businesses in the area of Upton & 43rd. You can get a list of all the offerings at the link but here’s a preview: stop in for free cookies, crafts, photos with Santa & Mrs Claus, cocoa and storytime. December 2, 2023, 10am-2pm.
Fulton Taproom has collected up many of the displaced Holidazzle artists, entertainers and vendors to offer a family-friendly, all ages festival inside and outside the Taproom. December 14-17, 2023. Thursday and Friday 5-9pm; Saturday 2-7pm; Sunday 1-5pm.
On hiatus in 2023.
Twin Cities Northwest Metro Holiday Festivals & Christmas Tree Lightings
Covering the best holiday festivals and tree lighting events in the communities of Albertville, Anoka, Buffalo, Champlin, Coon Rapids, Crystal, Dayton, Delano, Elk River, Hanover, Oak Grove, Osseo, Otsego, Plymouth, Ramsey, Robbinsdale, Rogers & St Michael, Minnesota.
Central Park, 5801 Lander Ave. NE, Albertville MN
So much fun in the park to kick off the holiday season: a Christmas tree lighting with Santa & Mrs Claus, horse-drawn wagon rides, caroling, smores over the fire and warm beverages. December 3, 2023, 2-4pm.
The Christmas 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 2, 2023; 3-7pm.
Sturges Park, 505 2nd Ave S Buffalo, MN 55313
Santa arrives at 3pm to kick off the family fun that ends with a tree lighting at 5pm. December 2, 2023; 3-5pm.
Mississippi Crossings, 307 East River Parkway, Champlin, MN 55316
The city will be lighting an animated 30-foot LED panel tree, a walk-through ornament and gift box, and snowflake light pole fixtures. Santa will be in attendance. December 1, 2023, 4-7pm.
Boulevard Plaza, 11000 Crooked Lake Blvd NW, Coon Rapids, MN 55433
Bundle up to celebrate the lighting of Coon Rapids’ community tree. Enjoy signing and bonfires. Both food shelf and toy donations will be accepted. Holiday tree lighting countdown and fireworks at 5:30pm. December 9, 2023, 3:30-6pm.
12709 Riverdale Blvd NW, Coon Rapids, Minnesota 55448
A free family event – meet Santa and take free photos, plus holiday music, crafts and a petting zoo. December 9, 2023, 12-4pm.
4800 Douglas Dr N, Crystal, MN 55429
Both indoor and outdoor activities to get you in the holiday frame of mind: music, refreshments and hot cocoa plus visits with Santa. December 2, 2023, 10am-12pm.
12260 Diamond Lake Road, Dayton MN 55327
Join in for the holiday tree lighting along with other festivities – Santa photos, smores and hot cocoa, hayrides and a light parade. November 30, 6-8pm.
Holiday events all over town – an old fashioned market, Girl Scouts Christmas Tree Walk, a storybook character hunt, smores, holiday tunes, storytime with Santa and the Deladazzle Parade. December 2, 2023; 10am-8pm, FREE admission, some activities have fees. Light the Night Tree Lighting takes place November 25, 7pm.
Rivers Edge Commons Park, 679 Main St NW, Elk River, MN 55330
Family fun includes Santa visit, goodie bags for kids, petting zoo and kids craft station capped off with the holiday tree lighting. December 2, 2023, 2-5pm.
Millpond Trail, Hanover, MN 55341
Sing-along Christmas carols, llamas in their seasonal best, hot cider and cookies and photo opportunities with St Nick are all part of this Victorian-inspired holiday festival. Located at the historic Hanover Bridge. December 1, 2023, 6-8pm.
19900 Nightingale St NW, Oak Grove, MN 55011
The Oak Grove Fire Department is in charge of lighting up the community holiday tree. Warm waffles and beverages while you enjoy the display. And Santa visits! December 1, 2023, 5-8pm.
Boerboom Veterans Park, 416 Central Avenue Osseo, MN 55369
Start off with the Light Parade down Main Street. Then, pictures with Santa, warm up at the bonfire and watch the Christmas tree lighting. December 1, 2023; 6-8pm.
Prairie Center, 8899 Nashua Ave NE, Otsego MN
Local talent and VIPs will be on hand to light the holiday tree, plus cocoa and cookies. Kids can bring their letters to Santa to Bring your Santa Letter to drop off at the North Pole Mailbox. November 27, 2023, 6:30pm.
13400 90th St NE, Otsego, MN 55330
Take a trip to the “North Pole” – right here in Otesgo, Minnesota. Complete with Santa & Mrs Claus, reindeer and carolers. Bring your letters & wish list. December 2, time slots between 10am-1pm. Free, but registration is required.
Hilde Performance Center, 3500 Plymouth Blvd. Plymouth, Minnesota 55447
Visit with Santa and live reindeer, enjoy a holiday lights display, music and family activities. Free, but must register ahead of time as space is limited. December 2, 2023, 4-7pm.
7550 Sunwood Dr NW, Ramsey, MN 55303
Free cocoa, cookies and pictures with Santa at the holiday tree lighting event. Rumriver Art Center will offer a create-your-own holiday ornament class ($10 fee, pre-registration required.) December 5, 2023, 6-8pm.
The event will take place at City Hall and includes a sing along, Santa visit and refreshments. December 5, 2023, 6-6:30pm.
Hot cocoa, cookies, caroling and a special activities beginning at 6:00 p.m. with the tree lighting at 7:00 p.m. December 1, 2023; 6pm-8pm.
Town Center Park, 11800 Town Center Drive NE
So good they brought the festival back for a second year! Santa, Mrs. Claus & reindeer will be there and the holiday tree will shine. Lots of activities: caroling, bingo, story time, smores over the fire and hot beverages. December 2, 2023, 3-6pm.
Twin Cities Northeast Metro Holiday Festivals & Christmas Tree Lightings
Featuring all the fun of holiday festivals and tree lightings in the communities of Blaine, Forest Lake, Ham Lake, Hudson WI, Lake Elmo, North St Paul, Oakdale, Scandia, Shoreview, Stillwater, Taylors Falls & White Bear Lake, Minnesota.
Tom Ryan Park, 10802 Town Square Drive NE, Blaine, MN 55449
Lighting ceremony, holiday music, s’mores & hot chocolate by a bonfire and Santa and his reindeer (maybe Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? maybe just the regular variety?). November 26, 2023, 4-6:30pm.
6970 LaMotte Drive, Centerville, MN 55038
The Lions are sponsoring a holiday festival in the park with Santa photos, horse-drawn trolley rides, a bonfire, a free lunch and a Santa parade to follow. December 9, 2023, 3-6pm.
Lakeside Memorial Park, 95 East Broadway Avenue, Forest Lake, MN 55025
In addition to the holiday tree lighting ceremony are smores and hot cocoa, holiday musical favorites and a petting zoo. Free with non-perishables or new toys accepted for donation. December 1, 2023, 4:30-7pm.
17565 Central Ave NE, Suite 200, Ham Lake, MN
The city’s second annual – a free event all are welcome to attend with a Santa greet, alpacas and mini-horses, treats, ornament-making, holiday movies and the lighting of the Ham Lake Holiday Lights. December 9, 2023, 3-6pm.
Lakefront Park Hudson WI 54016
Santa magically illuminates Lakefront Park with thousands of lights along the St Croix River. November 24, 7-8:30pm.
Downtown, Lake Elmo MN 55042
Celebration leading up to tree lighting ceremony. The holiday tree will remain lit evenings after the event. December 2, 2023. Event runs 4-6pm, tree lighting at 5pm.
NORTH ST PAUL
City-wide holiday activities. 910am-3pm, most activities are FREE. December 2, 2023.
Oakdale Discovery Center, 4444 Hadley Ave N, Oakdale, MN 55128
All the classic holiday fun going on here: horse-drawn hayrides, petting farm, bonfire with smores, crafts, visits with Santa, candy cane hunt and more. December 16, 2023, 9am-1pm. FREE.
14727 209th St N, Scandia, MN 55073
The highlight may be the holiday tree lighting, but there’s also an indoor craft market, music, free Dala horse cookies, hot cocoa and caroling around a firepit. Tree lighting is at 5:30pm, entire event runs noon-6:30pm. November 26, 2023.
Shoreview Community Center, 4580 Victoria St. N., Shoreview, Minnesota 55126
The grounds of Shoreview Commons will be lit for the holidays. Music and cookies follow at the community center. November 13, 2023, 6-7pm.
Downtown Stillwater, 100 Main Street, Stillwater, MN 55082
Main Street lights up with Christmas decorations and traditional events for a month-long celebration from Fridays through Sundays. December 2, 2023 to December 17, 2023.
Lowell Park, 201 Water St N, Stillwater, MN 55082
Free twinkle lights to pass out for kids 12 & under, music by the Teddy Bear Band, free cookies and warm drinks, trolley rides & the city’s tree lighting ceremony. December 2, 2023; 5pm.
Taylor Falls, MN 55084
Family highlights include the Grand Lighting & Santa Parade on Friday, a craft fair & medallion hunt on Saturday and Festival Theatre: “Gift of the Magi” on Sunday. November 24-26, 2023.
WHITE BEAR LAKE
Complete with horse-drawn trolley rides, carolers and ice sculptures in downtown White Bear Lake. December 9, 2023.
Part of Winterfest, drop by the Armory to warm up with hot cocoa and indoor activities, while viewing Christmas trees decorated by the community. December 9, 2023.
Railroad Park, 26755 Faxton Avenue Wyoming, MN 55092
Lighting of the holiday trees plus light displays, a Santa meet, refreshments and entertainment. December 2, 2023, 4:30-6pm.
That jolly old guy sure can get around! Santa starts accepting visitors and offering photo opportunities as early as the beginning of November at department stores and malls. 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.
Twin Cities Southeast Metro Holiday Festivals & Christmas Tree Lightings
Rounding up all the holiday happenings and tree lighting events in the communities of Afton, Apple Valley, Burnsville, Cottage Grove, Eagan, Hastings, Inver Grove Heights, Lakeville, Prior Lake, Rosemount, Savage & South St Paul, Minnesota.
Afton, MN 55001
The village Christmas tree is lit Friday eve during Candlelight Night; Saturday is Family Day; both days bring horse and wagon rides, carolers, ice skating and festive activities throughout local shops. December 1-2, 2023. Fri, 5-8pm & Sat, 11am-3pm.
Complete with caroling, cookies and cider. November 21, 2023, 6:15-7pm.
Nicollet Commons Park, 12550 Nicollet Ave, Burnsville, MN 55337
Making an appearance are local choirs, refreshments, Mr. and Mrs. Claus, 200,000+ lights, and a 30-foot-tall tree. November 22, 2023, 6pm.
Cottage Grove City Hall, 12800 Ravine Pkwy S, Cottage Grove, MN 55016
There will be a festive holiday tree for photos along with Santa and reindeer, bonfires, kids activities, live music and food trucks. November 29, 2023, 5-7pm.
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. December 3, 2023; 12-3pm.
Eagan Community Center, 1501 Central Pkwy Eagan, MN 55121
Tree lighting complete with music, kids crafts, Free play at the Blast Indoor Playground, fitness scavenger hunt & hot cocoa. December 5, 2023, 4-7pm.
Enjoy a day of shopping and tons of family activities at businesses downtown then watch the street snowflakes light up at 5:15pm followed by the City Hall Tree lighting at 5:30pm. November 25, 2023.
INVER GROVE HEIGHTS
Veterans Memorial Community Center, 8055 Barbara Ave, Inver Grove Heights, MN 55077
Friday evening holiday tree lighting outside the community center 6pm-7pm followed by skating with Santa 7pm-8:30pm (registration required). More activities follow through December 15th. December 1, 2023 @ 6pm.
20785 Holyoke Ave, Lakeville, MN 55044
Lighting at 6pm, musical performance by Lakeville South High School’s Encore Singers and warm beverages and cookies. November 28, 2023, 6pm.
The annual tree lighting plus treats, kids activities, choir performances, and a visit from Santa. November 25, 2023, 6-7pm.
City Hall, 6000 McColl Drive, Savage, Minnesota 55378
Cocoa, live music, a bonfire and ornament-making go with the lighting of the tree. November 30, 2023, 5:30pm.
SOUTH ST PAUL
Central Square Community Center, 100 – 7th Avenue North, South St Paul
Complete with cocoa, caroling and the lighting of the holiday tree. November 26, 2023, 5:30-6pm.
Twin Cities Southwest Metro Holiday Festivals & Christmas Tree Lightings
Bringing you the best holiday festivals and tree lighting events in the communities of Belle Plaine, Bloomington, Chanhassen, Chaska, Edina, Excelsior, Minnetonka, Prior Lake, Savage, Shakopee, St Louis Park, Waconia, Wayzata & Watertown, Minnesota.
The route runs from the Belle Plaine fire hall through Meridian Street. December 9, 2023, 6pm start.
Wander through a wonderland forest of specially decorated holiday trees. Located at Mall of America, North Atrium Level 3. November 15, 2023-January 3, 2024.
City Center Park, 7700 Market Blvd, Chanhassen, MN 55317
An annual holiday event with a tree lighting followed by refreshments, live reindeer, gingerbread house displays, and Santa Claus. December 2, 2023. 5pm.
Chaska Event Center and Firemen’s Park
Featuring crafts, outdoor games, hot cocoa and cookies & pictures with Santa Claus. December 3, 2023, 6-7:30pm.
Along with the holiday tree lighting with be chorale singers, horse-drawn trolley rides and Santa Claus. Held at the 50th & France shopping district. November 25, 2023; 4:30-6:30pm.
Excelsior Commons, 135 Lake St, Excelsior, MN 55331
The annual weekend Christkindlsmarkt is packed with a grand parade, children’s activities in KidsWorld, a North Pole Trolley, music, food and other traditional activities. Friday-Sunday; November 24-26 2023.
12590 Ridgedale Drive, Minnetonka, Minnesota 55305
Festive events on the lineup include hot cocoa, crafts, a bonfire and music (4:30-6 p.m.), tree lighting (5pm) and a candy cane hunt (5:30pm). December 9, 2023.
Lakefront Park, 5000 Kop Parkway SE, Prior Lake MN
Santa will snap photos with visitors in addition to the other fun winter festivities scheduled like ice-carving demonstrations and a giant bonfire with warm beverages and pizza (for sale). The evening caps off with a fireworks show. December 1, 2023, 6-8:30pm.
Savage City Hall, 6000 McColl Drive, Savage, MN 55378
Cocoa, live music, a bonfire the participate in Santa Cop Night at the Police Department. November 30, 2023, 5:30pm.
Walk-thru parade floats, Santa Claus, a tree lighting ceremony at 5:30pm and fireworks in Huber Park. December 2, 2023.
ST LOUIS PARK
1625 West End Blvd, St Louis Park MN
Meet the famous Frozen sisters and their live reindeer, play games, make winter crafts and dance to the DJ. Plus a free screening of the Polar Express at ShowPlace ICON Theatre at noon. December 9, 2023, 10am-1pm. FREE.
Bayfront Park in Downtown Victoria, 1730 Stieger Lake Lane, Victoria, MN 55386
The park lights up at 6pm followed by festive winter activities such as caroling, Santa Claus meets, hot apple cider, hayrides, llamas and dance performances. December 7, 2023, 6-7pm.
City Square Park, 100 E Main Street, Waconia
A tree lighting event with hot cocoa and visits with Santa. November 24, 2023, 6pm.
309 Lewis Ave S, Watertown, MN 55388
Start the day with free Santa pictures, write a holiday letter or card, see live animals, play games and decorate cookies. The holiday tree lighting ceremony is at 4:30pm in City Center Park. December 2, 2023, 9am-5:30pm.
Depot Park, 402 Lake St E, Wayzata, MN 55391
Tree lighting ceremony Friday night, with Santa and reindeer, a candy cane hunt for the kids and a parade of lights. Come back on Saturday for Small Business Saturday. November 24, 2023; 4:30-7pm.
More Twin Cities Holiday Events We Love
668 Transfer Rd Ste. 8, St Paul, MN 55114
A special holiday tradition at the Twin City Model Railroad Museum, it is the time of year when Night Trains magically transforms the museum layouts into miniature a holiday wonderland. Buildings and street lights glow, and throughout the museum the layouts are adorned with Christmas lights. Saturdays, Oct 21, 2023- Feb 24, 2024. $15/pp.
Jackson Street Roundhouse, 193 Pennsylvania Ave E, St Paul, MN 55130
The museum, located in St Paul, is transformed into Santa’s Train Shop with live music, activities, train rides, pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and lots of museum fun. Weekends, 10am-4pm, $9-$18/pp or $50/family. Pre-purchased tickets required.
FOR MORE TRAIN-TASTIC HOLIDAY FUN SEE: PLANES, TRAINS & SLEIGHS – CHRISTMAS IN THE TWIN CITIES 2023.
2424 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55406
A hands-on workshop and holiday shopping event. Our family attended a couple years ago and the kids were able to make homemade clay gifts to give to family for Christmas. November 19, 2023; 12-4pm.
Union Depot, 240 E. Kellogg Blvd. St. Paul, MN 55101
Based on the European open air Christkindlmarkts like those in Germany and Austria, this is a free event to attend with the opportunity to shop for unique, handmade gifts and decorations as well as nosh on holiday treats. Weekends, November 24-December 17, 2023. Fri 4-9pm, Sat 10am-8pm & Sun 11am-6pm.
HOLIDAY SHOPPING SEASON: BLACK FRIDAY TO CHRISTMAS EVE
Several opportunities pop up in November for early holiday shopping with local artists and local businesses who often offer unique and high quality gifts:
- Check Out These Local Shops on Plaid Friday and Small Business Saturday
- Purchase These “Made in Minnesota” Gifts
- Find the Perfect Gift at these Family-Friendly Holiday Shopping Events
- FFTC’s Local Holiday Bookshop
- The Best Twin Cities Independent Bookstores for Kids
- Twin Cities Toy Stores for Every Family
Norway House, 913 East Franklin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55404
Tour the gingerbread houses and even make your own to display. November 24, 2023 through January 7, 2024. $15/Ages 13+; Kids 12 and under Free.
American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55407
An ASI holiday tradition, back in-person with live musical performances. Saturday, November 25, 2023 9am & 11am performances. $5-$20/pp.
Live Entertainment For the Holidays in the Twin Cities
Get in the holiday mood with live entertainment from local theaters, musicians and more.
Christmas & Holiday events Cancelled in 2023
These traditional Christmas events are on hiatus for 2023 but we hope to see them back next year.
Loring Park, 1382 Willow St. Minneapolis, MN 55403
Usually filled with holiday attractions, festive fireworks and general Christmas cheer, Holidazzle has been cancelled this year. Check back in 2024. In the meantime, fill your holiday with all these other great events.
Washington County Historic Courthouse, 101 W. Pine St., Stillwater, MN 55082
Enjoy the historic courthouse decked out for the season while you shop the Holiday Bazaar Saturday, November 18-19, 2023.