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Things to do during Christmas in Minnesota 2023

December in Minnesota magically transforms into a winter wonderland perfect for celebrating the holiday season. And we sure know how to deck those snowy halls!

As a lifelong resident of the Land of 10,000 Lakes, I’ve discovered countless merry and bright ways for reveling in the Christmas spirit across this winter playground.

Twinkling lights, bustling markets, and festive events help make Minnesota a true winter wonderland destination each December.

In this post, I’m excited to share some of my favorite holiday happenings for fully embracing the magic of Christmas in Minnesota.

From sparkling tree lightings to Europe-inspired markets, these are the festive and fun activities you won’t want to miss this season.

So bundle up and get ready to immerse yourself in these top Minnesota Christmas celebrations!

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American Swedish Institute

Step into a winter wonderland at the American Swedish Institute. This place is absolutely amazing. Inside you’ll find yourself in a castle decked out with Scandinavian holiday traditions. 

They have a beautifully decorated Christmas trees and explore the museum’s festive exhibitions. They also have a winter solstice celebration you don’t want to miss.

Don’t miss the chance to grab a warm cup of glögg (mulled wine) and indulge in traditional Swedish treats.

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Holiday Lights

Experience the magic of the holiday season at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Winter Lights display. While Minnesota has a bunch of great Christmas Light displays around town, this one is one of my favorites.

Because of the backdrop with the gardens, you’ll get to stroll through the mesmerizing light installations. 

Bundle up because most of the displays are outdoors, but this winter wonderland is totally worth it.

Holiday Lights

A Norwegian Christmas at Eidem Farm

Travel back in time and celebrate Christmas the Norwegian way at Eidem Farm in Brooklyn Park. 

Costumed tour guides, will guide you through a historic Norwegian farm during the holiday season.

There are Norwegian treats and actives for everyone. Including a visit from St Nicolas. 

Christmas in Minneapolis at the Holidazzle Village

Get ready for a dose of holiday magic at the Holidazzle Village in Minneapolis.

This annual event brings the festive season to life with a dazzling display of lights, holiday activities, and live performances.

From ice-skating in the city lights, to a giant yeti, to fireworks. This is a tradition you’ll want to start. 

*Closed due to lack of funding in 2023*

Christmas Theater in Minnesota

Indulge in some holiday cheer with a visit to one of Minnesota’s many Christmas theaters.

From classic Christmas carols to heartwarming performances, these shows are sure to get you in the holiday spirit.

Gather your loved ones and make memories that will last a lifetime.

Como Park Zoo & Conservancy

Visit Como Park Zoo & Conservatory during the holiday season and be greeted by a spectacle of lights and festive decorations. Enjoy the sight of beautifully lit trees while exploring the zoo’s diverse animal exhibits.

Don’t forget to catch a glimpse of Santa Claus and his reindeer!

Ride the Holiday Trains

Minnesota has a bunch of great trains still running around the state but the best part about this time of year is that they turn into holiday trains!

These holiday trains are beautifully decorated and often offer special seasonal activities and entertainment for both kids and adults.

Some of my favorites are the North Pole Express at Union Depot and the Polar Express Train run by the North Shore Scenic Railroad in Duluth.

Christmas Light Displays

Minnesota has some great Christmas light displays around town. I’ve even mentioned a few on this list.

There is nothing better to get you into the holiday spirit than walking under lights or even getting a sleigh ride.

Find out more about locations around town, like the free Kiwanis Holiday Lights in Mankato and others.  

Gelensheen Mansion

Gelensheen Mansion at Christmas time is magical. With every room in the house decked out in holiday cheer and Christmas Trees. You’ll also find elves hiding around for you to find.

Take a self-guided tour of the property and find all the magic. The historic home sits on Lake Superior, making it a great backdrop for family pictures. It’s straight out of charismas cards.

Glensheen Mansion decorated for christmas

Christmas Bar Crawl

Looking to add some jingle to your step this holiday season? Try out the Christmas Bar Crawl in downtown Minneapolis! It’s the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit with a festive twist.

Grab your Santa hat and prepare for a night of merry mayhem because it’s the most wonderful time of the year to bar hop like a pro. 

Union Depot Market

Get ready to party with the 2023 European Christmas Market at Union Depot!

Experience the one and only in-person market holiday market, as they transform Union Depot into a whimsical Christmas Village for four incredible holiday weekends.

This is perfect if you are looking for the perfect gift for someone that have everything. With local shops to explore, you’ll find something great.

Don’t miss out on Minnesota’s most authentic Christmas Market, running all throughout the magical advent season.

Glow Holiday Light Festival

The Glow Holiday Light Festival in St Paul is a magical place to see a holiday festival in Minnesota. With millions of lights all synchronized to holiday music, you’ll be amazed. 

Held at CHS Field, it’s easy to get to. You can walk through a winter wonderland of extraordinary trees, visit with Santa, find unique gifts, enjoy carolers and pet live reindeer.

This walk through the sparkling lights is an annual holiday tradition in my family in the Twin Cities.

Holiday Lights

Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting

Have you ever tried a tree lighting ceremony before? These are held in almost every town in Minnesota.

They always celebrate the lighting of the tree with music, food, activities and more. But when the lights are turned on the festival trees the fun just begins!

My favorite celebrations to take the kids to are when they have holiday-themed parades. Timed at night, they are colorful and lit, and sometimes end with fireworks show! Check out what the town of Shakopee did.

Holiday Fest in Downtown Shakopee

Christmas Tree Farm

Do you love the smell of fresh pine? Have you Evern wanted the Griswald charismas experience? Ok, maybe not the full experience, but how about cutting down your own tree this year?

There are some great farms around the state to explore!

Norway House Gingerbread Competition

There are many Minneapolis destinations on the list but the one that’s a lot of fun is the Gingerbread House competition.

With fully decked out charismas displays, local inspiration and so much more. This is on Christmas tradition you don’t want to miss.

Gingerbread House Display

James J. Hill House Holidays

Step inside the historic James J. Hill House and experience the magic of the holidays. Admire the elaborately decorated rooms and learn about the traditions of the Hill family during the festive season.

Discover the beauty and history of this iconic mansion in all its holiday glory. With decorated trees inside, this historic home is a great place to visit in Minneapolis during the holidays.

Great Wolf Lodge Minnesota

Looking for a winter getaway that combines holiday fun with water park thrills? Look no further than Great Wolf Lodge Minnesota.

This family-friendly resort offers a magical holiday experience with festive decorations, fun activities, and a chance to meet Santa Claus himself.

Mall of America

Shop till you drop at the Mall of America, which transforms into a winter wonderland during the holiday season. Marvel at the gigantic Christmas tree.

With a wide range of stores and attractions, the Mall of America is the perfect place to find that special holiday gift.

Mall of America at Christmas


What is the most Christmassy town in Minnesota?

Duluth takes the crown as the most Christmassy town in Minnesota. With its stunning light displays, festive events, and charming downtown area, Duluth is a must-visit during the holiday season.

Don’t miss the annual Bentleyville Tour of Lights, where you can marvel at over a million lights!

What is Christmas like in Minnesota?

Christmas in Minnesota is a magical time filled with holiday activities and festive cheer. From exploring beautifully decorated neighborhoods to attending seasonal events and markets, there are countless ways to celebrate the holiday spirit.

Whether you prefer indoor concerts or outdoor light displays, Minnesota has something for everyone.

What is open Christmas Day in Minneapolis?

Although many businesses and attractions may be closed on Christmas Day, you can still enjoy a festive meal at some of Minneapolis’ restaurants.

From upscale dining establishments to cozy cafes, there are options to satisfy every palate. It’s always a good idea to make reservations in advance to ensure a stress-free Christmas dining experience.

Where can I see Santa in Minneapolis?

If you’re looking to meet Santa Claus in Minneapolis, head to popular attractions like the Holidazzle Village or Mall of America.

These places often host Santa Claus and give children and adults alike the chance to share their Christmas wishes. Don’t forget to bring your camera for a memorable holiday photo!

Does Minneapolis have a white Christmas?

Ah, the age-old question of whether Minneapolis will have a white Christmas. While it’s hard to predict exactly what Mother Nature has in store, there’s a good chance of snow blanketing the city during the holiday season.

So keep your fingers crossed and let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

How will you spend Christmas In Minnesota?

Christmas in Minnesota is such a magical time. Whether you are looking for festive food, horse-drawn wagon rides, or a walk-through Christmas display, you’ll find something excited. Soe 

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