Holiday Arts Guide: Find some festivity and cheer for the whole family at these events

With the cold weather sticking around for so long, Twin Citians have become pretty good at finding ways to enjoy it.

King Boreas and Vulcanus Rex will do battle for the seasons once again during the St. Paul Winter Carnival, from Jan. 25 to Feb. 3, and the Great Northern Festival takes place around the same time to highlight even more ways to have fun in the cold.

And luckily, the fun can start right away. Throughout the holiday season, there are plenty of festivals and events for all ages in St. Paul and throughout the Metro. Here are some dates to add to your calendar:

Garrett Quinnell from Northfield and Sarah Koury from Inver Grove Heights make s’mores at one of the firepits at the GLOW Winter Festival at CHS Field in St. Paul on Thursday, Nov., 16, 2023. (John Autey / Pioneer Press)

Now through Dec. 31: GLOW Holiday Festival

The holiday lights festival returns to CHS Field this year with a new 300-foot zipline over the outfield, a 120-foot “snowy slide” and one million LED lights. There are fire pits around the festival, and organizers estimate about 4,900 s’mores are eaten there each year. Timed-entry tickets — between 5 and 9 p.m. — are required and must be purchased in advance; $20.75 per adult and $12.75 for kids. (Those 2 and under are free.)

GLOW Holiday Festival at CHS Field: 360 N Broadway St;

Dec. 1–3: “Charlie Brown Christmas,” jazz-ified and danceable

Local performing arts group Rhythmically Speaking is presenting “CHILL: The Entire Charlie Brown Christmas Soundtrack, Played Live and Danced!” featuring a live jazz band and dancers. This is the first time they’ve done the show since before the pandemic. Dance your good grief away at 7 p.m. Dec. 1; 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Dec. 2; and 2 p.m. Dec. 3 at the Amsterdam Bar & Hall downtown. The show runs about an hour. Tickets purchased online are $20 for adults (i.e. over 12 years old), $10 for kids, free for lap-sitters; prices are higher at the door.

“CHILL” at the Amsterdam: 6 W. 6th Street; buy tickets at

People stand in front of Union Depot on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2022, as the holiday tree is lit. The day’s festivities were also in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Lowertown icon’s restoration. (Ellie Roth / Pioneer Press)

Dec. 2: Union Depot tree lighting and movie night

On Saturday, Dec. 2, the massive holiday tree will be lit at Union Depot, and the 2024 Winter Carnival buttons will be unveiled. Be there at 5 p.m. for the buttons, followed by a concert from the Mistletones at 5:30 p.m. The 20,000-light tree will shine at 7 p.m., and a screening of the movie “Elf” starts at 7:30 p.m. The first 800 kids under 12 who show up will get a free light-up wand.

Union Depot: 240 E. Kellogg Blvd;

Dec. 7–10: Disney on Ice’s “Find Your Hero”

This figure skating show at the Xcel Energy Center takes you into the worlds of many Disney characters including those from “Moana,” “Encanto” and “Frozen.” The cast includes Nila Cooper, a 2022 graduate of Stillwater Area High School and an accomplished skater. Tickets start at $20.

“Find Your Hero” at the X: 199 W Kellogg Blvd; tickets and more info at

Circus Juventas’ 2021/2022 show, “Blizzard.” (Photo by Dan Norman)

Dec. 8–17: “A Hygge Holiday” at Circus Juventas

For this year’s holiday show, the renowned St. Paul youth circus school is revisiting its 2020/2021 season’s “A Hygge Holiday” — its first-ever winter production. It’s a wintry story of a group of young people who wander into the woods behind their grandma’s cabin and discover festive flora and fauna. The show runs for nine performances; 70 minutes without an intermission. Tickets are $35 for adults and $25 for kids/students/seniors/military.

Circus Juventas: 1270 Montreal Ave; buy tickets online at

Dec. 10 and 11: VocalEssence Welcome Christmas concerts

More than 200 singers and brass and percussion musicians will take the stage at Northrop for local choral organization VocalEssence’s annual holiday show, backed by the University of Minnesota auditorium’s 7000-pipe organ. Two shows — 4 p.m. on both Dec. 9 and 10 — and certain tickets are available on a choose-your-price model from $5 to $55.

VocalEssence at Northrop: 84 Church St SE, Minneapolis; tickets at

Dec. 17: Brunch with Santa at The Lexington

Fancy destination The Lex is bringing Santa to town for an all-you-can-eat meal. Expect classic brunch foods like scrambled eggs and bacon, French toast, biscuits and gravy, and “a few other tasty surprises,” the restaurant teases. A non-alcoholic beverage is included; wine, beer and cocktails are extra. $55 for adults and $25 for kids, before tax/tip. Reservations are strongly encouraged.

The Lexington: 1096 Grand Ave.; 651-289-4990;

Dec. 21: St. Croix Valley Opera presents “Home for the Holidays”

The Stillwater opera’s annual show returns this year with a focus on young performers who are also St. Croix river valley natives, including renowned tenor Jack Swanson. The show begins at 7 p.m. Dec. 31 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Stillwater. Tickets are $25 per person.

“Home for the Holidays” opera: At Trinity Lutheran Church, 115 4th St N, Stillwater; tickets at

Starting Jan. 5: Minnesota Ice Festival

The fun doesn’t have to end once we’re all back at work and school in the new year. At the Minnesota Vikings’ HQ in Eagan, the Minnesota Ice Festival is set to build the world’s largest ice maze, a puzzle more than twice the size of last year’s maze. Tickets to the festival are $19.99 for adults, $9.99 for kids aged 5–14, and free for those under 4 (but the festival still requires you to reserve a free ticket for them). The festival is open Thursdays through Sundays until Feb. 11.

Minnesota Ice Festival: Viking Lakes: 2645 Vikings Circle, Eagan;

A large ice castle being constructed in New Brighton’s Long Lake Regional Park, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020.(Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press)

All Season, Weather-Permitting: Ice Castles

Ice Castles, the massive traveling attraction that has sprung up in New Brighton for the past several winters, is moving way across the Metro to Maple Grove. Assuming the weather cooperates, organizers are once again planning a huge structure with ice slides and sculptures, plus an ice bar. Tickets are $23 for those 12 and older and $16 for kids over 4. After the new year, the pricing structure changes; those prices remain for weekends, but general admission becomes $16 and kids are $11 on Mondays and Thursdays until the end of the season. Tickets go on sale Wednesday, Nov. 29.

Ice Castles: 12500 82nd Ave N, Maple Grove;

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