Holidazzle, downtown Minneapolis’ annual free holiday festival, is returning to Loring Park this year Thursdays through Sundays from November 23rd until December 23rd. The wholesome family event will kick off with a brilliant display of fireworks on opening night, which will repeat every Saturday night after opening weekend. The lights won’t just be in the sky, of course — nearly every tree in the park will be festooned with festive Christmas twinklers, and illuminated art installations will be part of the celebration again this year as well.

Holidazzle features local people, places, and products to help local businesses throughout the area thrive and gain exposure during the holiday season. The food vendors are all great businesses from around the Twin Cities area. One of their staples is the Holidazzle sausage by Kramarczuk’s which features cranberries and wild rice. Misfit Coffee will be there to keep celebrants warm and perky, and Fulton is returning to lighten moods with their locally brewed beers. Holidazzle also features Fulton’s aptly named Holidazzle Proper Porter — to miss out on the rare and rich quaff ought to be a crime.

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Holidazzle is a regular shopping destination as well! Stop by to shop for everything including winter wear, clothing, jewelry, handcrafted toys, artwork, and more. Love Your Melon, the philanthropic hatmaker who donates 50 percent of their net profits toward fighting pediatric cancer, is returning this year as well.

Returning this year to Loring Park is downtown’s only outdoor skating rink, which is open during all Holidazzle hours. (The rink remains in Loring Park through early March.) Skating is free, and the rink is guaranteed to stay frozen thanks to the miracle of refrigeration. Even if you don’t have your own skates, you’ll be in fine form thanks to the complimentary skate rental. Should skating or just taking in the festival’s sights numb your delicate toes, you need only go into the rink’s warming hut to restore yourself.

Every moment of Holidazzle is brightened by live music. The festival’s criterion for its entertainers is fairly simple: Be from here. That means you may be treated to holiday tunes, upbeat German polka, peppy jazz singers, or the euphonious teamwork of a high school band. The entertainment doesn’t end with music — Holidazzle’s Thursday and Sunday night movies are returning this year as well, so you may sit on a hay bale with a hot chocolate to review a cherished classic like Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Story, or Elf.

Kids will find a wealth of things to love about Holidazzle. The Kid Zone, which is updated annually to keep tots guessing, is full of obstacles, games, and other things to assure they will fall asleep on the ride home. The “thwing,” an indescribable swinging contraption with multiple seats, is making its debut this year. Best of all, Santa Claus himself will always be at Holidazzle. Have your kids ready their wish lists in anticipation of their free photo shoot with the jolly old elf.

Getting to Holidazzle is a snap — no more than five dollars gets you nearby parking all day. You can also go there by bus or light rail every Saturday from 10:00am until 11:00pm with the free pass available on their website. To learn more about everything that is coming to Holidazzle and plan your festive evening out in our fair city, visit holidazzle.com.


By David Scheller