More and more holiday events happen in Minnesota each year.  Jake Juliot from Explore Minnesota highlights some events to see this month.


Bentleyville Tour of Lights

In Minnesota, you know the holiday season has begun when Bentleyville Tour of Lights opens. Lighted tunnels and pathways lead visitors past themed displays depicting Split Rock Lighthouse, an ore ship, the Aerial Lift Bridge and everything from the Nativity to the Island of Misfit Toys lit up by more than 4 million lights in a carnival of color.

Christmas City Express

A vintage train wrapped in holiday lights rumbles and chugs into view in front of Fitger’s in Duluth from late November through December. The seasonal ride on the North Shore Scenic Railroad’s Christmas City Express travels to Duluth’s 1892 Depot, which houses the Lake Superior Railroad Museum. Kids gather for a reading of the book, “The Christmas City Express,” watch Lionel model train sets whir around their tracks, explore full-sized trains and hear a full-sized steam engine chug to life, as it spews smoke and blows its whistle.

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Twin Cities

GLOW Holiday Lights Festival is back at CHS field in Lowertown St. Paul! Stroll through over a million lights, sElfie Plaza, Enchanted Forest, and so much more! The festival has a snowy slide and zip line for extra cost and food and beverages are available to purchase.

Also in St. Paul is the very popular Union Depot European Christmas Market. The European Christmas Market is back with 70 vendors, live entertainment and a wonderful Santa’s Village. Santa’s Village features more gift shopping and European style food but also invites you to make some crafts, to visit Santa’s post office and to enjoy a ride!

In Minneapolis, Get a cozy northern Minnesota cabin experience right in the middle of downtown Minneapolis at the Four Seasons' Nordic Village. Dine in private cabins under the glow of string lights and the skyline. These cabins aren’t your average winter huts: they’re heated and decked with holiday décor, skylights and TVs to watch favorite sporting events or a classic holiday movie. The Nordic Village is open for reservations Wednesdays through Sundays November 1, 2023 through March 31, 2024.

Check off holiday shopping from your list at their Nordic Village Market, which will host a rotating selection of toys, clothing, spices, home décor, jewelry, blankets and more. Sip on hot cider while you shop, as this market is on their rooftop and weaves in and out of the Nordic cabins. The market is open weekends in November and December (except on December 24 and 31).

Making its Twin Cities debut at Viking Lakes this Holiday season, Magic of Lights features over 2 million dazzling holiday lights. Enjoy Magic of Lights’™ classic holiday favorites including Winter Wonderland, the 12 days of Christmas, Toyland, festive Elves, and Reindeer Road from the comfort of their vehicles. In addition to the 200-foot-long Enchanting Tunnel of Lights, illuminated displays include the 32-foot-tall, animated Mattel’s Waving Christmas Barbie™, and the legendary BIGFOOT® Monster Truck. Magic of Lights is a nostalgic and festive event everyone will enjoy. Magic of Lights™ shines Monday through Thursday from 5:30PM – 9:00PM and Friday through Sunday from 5:30PM – 10:00PM. Tickets for this colorful seasonal event are on sale now and tickets are priced per vehicle.

The Holiday Train  

The Holiday Train is a great way to get into the festive spirit. It's about 1,000 feet in length with 14 brightly decorated rail cars. Each one is lit with hundreds of thousands of LEDs and holiday designs celebrating the spirit of the giving season. Depending on the day, visitors can enjoy free musical performances by Tenille Townes and Breland or Dallas Smith and MacKenzie Porter. Any food or cash donations will also benefit the local community. Please note: You don't actually get to ride the Holiday Train. It's more of a pop-up concert experience. The Train’s first stop is in Rochester on December 6th and runs through December 15th where it makes it’s final stop in Elbow Lake.


Head north to the First City of Lights festivities in Bemidji to see more than half a million lights, complete with a 50-foot-tall, animated Paul Bunyan Christmas tree, live music, a parade, fireworks and more. Visitors can also tour illuminated homes and storefronts through the New Year during the Tour of Homes display contest.


Take in a holiday classic, including It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play accompanied by lunch or dinner at The Saint Paul Hotel (Dec. 8 - 23), A Christmas Carol (Nov. 11 - Dec. 30) at the Guthrie Theater, or Loyce Houlton’s Nutcracker Fantasy, (Dec. 16 - 23) at the State Theatre. The Minnesota Ballet adds a local twist (and a lumberjack) to the classic story with its performance of The Nutcracker: A Duluth Tale (Dec. 8 - 10) at the DECC in Duluth.



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