Holidazzle, downtown Minneapolis’ annual winter festival, is returning to Loring Park this year Thursdays through Sundays from November 24th to December 23rd.  Colorful lights will brighten the night air for this celebration of community, a place to go to rub elbows with your family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors while enjoying shopping, entertainment, and fine food and drink.

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Holidazzle is all about telling stories, and its stories feature the local people, places, and products that make the holidays special in Minneapolis.  These include local vendors offering clothing, jewelry, bath and body products, and other wonderful things all made right here at home.  There is something for everyone here, which makes Holidazzle a one-stop shopping destination throughout its five weeks.  Some shops will be there the full run, while others will pop up during specific weekends.  Each time you visit Holidazzle will be a different experience.

Fulton Brewing will attend to serve their popular favorites along with their special Holidazzle Proper Porter which they make exclusively for the festival.  Sociable Cider Werks will mull their Fat Bike hard cider, too.  (Holidazzle is especially festive because you may drink outside there, provided you stay within the confines of the festival.)  Beloved holiday standbys like pretzels and roasted nuts will combat the cold air as well as annual favorites like Kramarczuk’s special cranberry and wild rice sausages.

Holidazzle also dazzles with its brilliant lights.  Strings of bulbs will glow in technicolor throughout the park, an electric rainbow.  Every Saturday after the opening weekend will feature a winter fireworks show (the fireworks on the opening weekend will take place on Friday, November 24).  If you prefer your lights to tell a story, join the crowd for movie nights featuring holiday and winter classics on the outdoor movie screen.

The athletic types can take to the skating rink at Holidazzle, guaranteed to stay frozen no matter the weather thanks to the miracle of refrigeration.  If you don’t have skates or just don’t want to lug your own around, take advantage of the complimentary skate rental.  If skating chills you out too literally, or if just walking around has numbed your fingers, head into the warming hut to put some color back in your cheeks.

You can’t have a festival without music.  Holidazzle will host a variety of performances ranging from rock to country and more, a tribute to how many styles of music that Minneapolis gives rise to.  The live acts will play one after the other, each performing for about a half hour, and even when the music isn’t live it won’t stop thanks to the speakers set up around the festival grounds.

Santa Claus himself will be there and in position to take photos with children of all ages.  True to his character, Santa will do it all for free.  After they’ve met the big man, take your kids over to the obstacle course to tire them out in anticipation of the ride home.

More surprises will be part of the Holidazzle festivities.  Visit holidazzle.com over the coming weeks for updates to the schedule.  Whether you’re going with your family, a date, or to make new friends, Holidazzle is the best way to get the most from downtown this special time of year.  Go shop, go eat, go drink, and, above all, go be merry.


By David Scheller