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A Victorian Christmas

Do you want to celebrate Christmas like they did back in the Gilded Age, but don’t want to deal hassles such as chopping down a tree, baking on a wood stove, or Bright’s disease? Then you are more than welcome to visit the Alexander Ramsey House, where A Victorian Christmas will be held on select days November 29th through December 29th. There you’ll be greeted by guides in full Victorian dress, who will show you how the first governor of the Minnesota Territory got merry during Yuletide. See the family’s original Christmas ornaments hung on a fresh tree, listen to holiday music played on an 1875 Steinway piano, and sample cookies from Mrs. Ramsey’s own cookbook. Afterward pretend you’re going to get your horse from the carriage house, where you will actually browse Victorian Christmas ornaments, including the enigmatic pickle ornament. This is one of the Minnesota Historical Society’s most popular programs, so it is best if you book your tour in advance at mnhs.org/event/7280.

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Night Trains

Picture a perfect scene of a little boy and his new toy on Christmas morning. He’s not playing a video game, or setting up a smartphone. He is arched over a model railroad. The good people at the Twin City Model Railroad Museum appreciate that their specialty is ingrained as a symbol of Christmas, so they host Night Trains on Saturday evenings November through February. For it they turn their gargantuan O scale exhibit into a winter wonderland, where blue moonlight sparkles off of snow covered buildings as lighted trains dart around tracks. It’s quite the thing to behold, a wonderful little world whirring away. You can get the full scoop at tcmrm.org.

Winter Lights

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska is a real treasure this time of year. To make up for the fact that their flowers are all sleeping or passed on, they festoon their grounds with endless strings of twinkling Christmas lights. (The arborists are finicky about which of the Arboretum’s trees get the light treatment, so special pines and free-standing forms are brought in for the purpose.) Go inside the visitor’s center to warm up with cookies and hot cocoa and you will see brilliant decorations including a tree made of pointsettias, as well as the place you can buy s’more components to assemble at the bonfire. Santa Claus will be there on some nights, so be certain you know which model train to ask him for. Winter Lights will be held Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights November 21st through January 5th. You can learn more at arboretum.umn.edu.

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Gotham City Minneapolis

Union Rooftop is the only place to be on December 31st. Go to their Gotham City Minneapolis party and you’ll get to usher in the new year dressed as your favorite Batman character! There’s a Batman character for everyone — Bane for guys who go to the gym, Penguin for guys who don’t, and Condiment King (an actual Batman villain) for guys who prefer not to be bothered by other people while they dance. And ladies, gather up a few leftover Christmas poinsettias and your Poison Ivy costume is good to go! The New Year’s Eve party spreads across the heroic themed rooftop to the villainous basement level, and will be played to by three different DJs. Pique your convivial spirit with fruity Batman-themed drinks, go nuts until 2:00am, and then take to the streets to administer vigilante-styled justice to any ruffians you meet. Just don’t drive.

By David Scheller