Twin Cities Guide to Family Activities This Weekend: December 11-12, 2021

2December 2021

Weekend Holiday Festivals & Events

All Weekend: December 11-12, 2021

Christmas at Dakota City Heritage Village 

Make holiday crafts, take a ride on a horse-drawn trolley, listen to festive music at the church, enjoy hot cocoa at the Drug Store, and spy Santa. Buildings will be illuminated inside and out throughout the village. Tickets: $5/pp.

Dakota City General Store decorated for Christmas with wreaths and lights.

European Christmas Market at Union Depot

A free event to attend with the opportunity to shop for unique, handmade gifts and decorations as well as nosh on holiday treats. Located at St Paul’s historic Union Depot. Open weekends, Fri 4-9pm, Sat 10am-8pm & Sun 11am-6pm.

Gingerbread Wonderland at Norway House

A signature holiday tradition, Gingerbread Wonderland returns for its 5th Anniversary. Located in Minneapolis. $5/pp kids FREE.

Holidays on the Hill at James J Hill House

Take a self-guided Christmas tour of the historic mansion and hear about the family’s holiday traditions. Located in St Paul, $8-$12/pp.

The Northern Express – A Complete Christmas Wonderland

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.  Thru December 19, 2021. Fri 12pm-10pm, Sat 10am-1pm, Sun 10am-8pm; Admission: Adults $18; Children $13; 2 and under – free.

White Bear Lake Winterfest

Horse drawn trolley rides, photos with Santa, carolers and shopping. 


Twin Cities Holiday Lights Displays

University of Minnesota’s Winter Light Show

THIS WEEKEND ONLY! Students have arranged their annual display of 250,000+ LED lights that dance in sync with tunes. Dec 9-11, 2021. 15-min shows at 5:30, 6 & 6:30pm. 

The Christmas Story in Lights at Wayzata Community Church 

Drive through and pause at 8 stations telling the Christmas story in bright lights, music, and narration. Thurs-Sun, Dec. 3-27th; 6pm-9pm.

Wintertime in Stillwater

Downtown Stillwater, Stillwater MN 55082
There’s extra twinkle in the city’s historic downtown district this year. Chestnut Street has a pedestrian winter wonderland area where you can enjoy a free LED light show set to music and the mile drive of Main Street is covered with snowflake decorations and rooftop lights. Drive it, walk it, shop it – all beautiful choices. Begins the Friday after Thanksgiving. 5-10pm nightly. FREE!

Downtown Stillwater Minnesota lit up for the Holidays 2020

Winter Lights at the Arboretum

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, 3675 Arboretum Dr, Chaska, MN 55318
Winter will be in bloom with lighted greenery and displays throughout the pathways of the arb’s gardens! Online ticket reservation required.
This weekend – Tickets: $10-$25/pp.

GLOW Holiday Festival

Minnesota State Fairgrounds, 1265 Snelling Ave N, St Paul, MN 55108
Enjoy a parade of dozens of  seasonal scenes featuring over a million holiday lights, a 100-foot illuminated tree and other attractions. The festival has added a “sElfie Plaza”, a 3-story ice palace and a food court. Thru Jan 2, 2022, 4:30 pm-9/10 pm; Tickets $12.75 to $75/pp.

For the whole sparkling scoop on the best holiday light displays in the Twin Cities, visit our 2021 Twin Cities Drive Thru Christmas Events and Walking Tours page. OR – create your own drive-thru holiday lights event! We have an enormous list of homes around the Twin Cities that deck their halls up for the holiday: Jump over to Light It Up: Twin Cities & Greater Minnesota Christmas & Holiday Light Displays for our map!

december weekend

Find Santa Claus in the Twin Cities This weekend

Where will Jolly Old St Nick be visiting this weekend? Somehow he manages to be all over the Twin Cities! Take your pick from shopping malls, community festivals and even a streetcar decked out for Christmas. For further planning, check our Twin Cities Santa-finder page or check out the details below on our holiday festival calendar.

WEEKEND SANTA HIGHLIGHT! Santa’s Train Shop at Minnesota Transportation Museum

The museum transforms into Santa’s Train Shop with live music, activities, train rides, pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Located in St Paul, Dec 11 & 12, 2021, $7-$13/pp.

Santa at Holiday Night Trains – Twin City Model Railroad Museum

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. Santa will join in the fun Dec 11! Located in St Paul. $15/pp.

Skate with Santa at Maple Grove Central Park

Maple Grove Central Park, 12000 Central Parkway, Maple Grove, MN 55369
Grab your ice skates (or rent them at the pavilion, $7) and join Santa at the ice skating loop with holiday music, a light show and more. Dec 11, 5-8pm, FREE admission.

Santa’s Workshop at Landmark Center

Snap a free pic with Santa and then enjoy games, story time and gift-making. December 12, 2021; 1-3pm, FREE.

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