Christmas in Minnesota – Customs and Traditions

Snowy lake in Minnesota

Minnesota, renowned for its breathtaking landscapes like the boundary to the wilderness of the Cardinals and the Great Lakes, is a perfect Christmas getaway. Explore secluded trails leading to water channels and rivers, offering a chance to embrace the region’s diverse culture, heritage, and local cuisine during the festive season.

For those preferring indoor activities, indulge in spa retreats or golf resorts scattered across the region. Minnesota hosts world-class entertainment venues and revered art collections. In the bustling Minneapolis metropolis, immerse yourself in vibrant art scenes and theater performances, interacting with both local artists and global visitors. Join the lively Christmas celebrations at art centers and theaters throughout the state.

Christmas traditions and customs in Minnesota

The state of Minnesota boasts a rich tapestry of cultures, traditions, and heritage, especially evident during the Christmas season. Here are some of the prevalent traditions you’ll encounter in the region:

Christmas lights in Duluth

Duluth, during the holiday period, transforms into a mesmerizing spectacle. The Bentleyville Tour of Lights, adorned with over 4 million lights, illuminates the city. Running from November 29th to December 26th, early December offers a quieter experience amid the twinkling lights. Enjoy moments with loved ones, savoring popcorn, cocoa, or roasted marshmallows. It’s a perfect occasion to bond with family and immerse yourself in the warmth of Minnesota’s Christmas spirit.

Christmas trains in Minnesota

The holiday trains epitomize the festive charm of Minnesota, and their presence varies across regions. The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train is a notable visitor, welcoming passengers at local stations. Embark on a journey traversing parts of Minnesota and even the Canadian province. Timing is crucial; the train schedule usually operates from December 11th to the 17th, allowing passengers to relish this enchanting ride.

European Christmas markets in Minnesota

Visiting the European Christmas markets in Minnesota is a cherished tradition during the holiday season. These markets offer a unique chance to engage with people of European descent, immersing oneself in the rich traditions and cultures from Europe, embraced and retained in the United States.

Brimming with items from Europe and worldwide, these markets offer unique souvenirs or decorations for the festive season. You’ll discover treasures representing varied cultures, from Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and beyond, fostering a deeper understanding of diverse Christmas customs.

Explore local popup holiday bars

In Minnesota, the holiday spirit thrives, evident in the festive popup bars scattered throughout Minneapolis. Engaging with people from diverse backgrounds, these bars provide a delightful exploration of the state’s vibrant holiday scene.

Minneapolis, the capital city, serves as an ideal hub to connect with different cultures, offering an array of drinks, from cocktails to mocktails. Exploring these holiday-themed bars presents a perfect opportunity to experience the distinctive essence of Minnesota during the Christmas period.

Christmas shopping in Minnesota

During the festive Christmas period, it’s a common practice in various parts of Minnesota to explore charming downtown areas, immersing oneself in the region’s rich history and diverse culture. Gift shops and malls abound, offering unique products and gifts specific to the state and its various regions.

On Christmas Eve, these shops come alive with vibrant decorations, often accompanied by the cheerful melodies of carolers strolling alongside horse-drawn carriages. One standout celebration is the North Winter Walk on December 8th, where luminaries light up the streets, shops adorn themselves with Christmas themes, and special festive offerings abound, making it a delightful experience with numerous activities to enjoy.

Visitors can also participate in raffle tickets for a chance to win tree decorations adorning the charming streets.

Holidazzle Interactive art moose installation

An integral part of Minnesota’s Christmas traditions is the Holidazzle, hosted in the heart of Minneapolis. This lively event offers an array of engaging activities, including a giant slide and the Skyline carousel, along with complimentary visits with Santa during the holiday season.

The festivities also boast a delightful selection of global cuisine, reflecting Minnesota’s diverse population from Europe and various corners of the world. The gastronomic offerings during this time encapsulate the cultural tapestry of the state, making it a culinary journey worth exploring during the festive season.

Pick your own Christmas tree

One of Minnesota’s oldest and most cherished traditions involves visiting various farms across the region to hand-pick a Christmas tree for decoration during the festive season. These farms offer a range of experiences, from serene and peaceful settings to bustling locations brimming with activities like family crafts and delightful sleigh rides.

It’s an opportunity not just to find the perfect tree but also to engage in holiday-themed activities, making it an ideal outing for families, including meeting Santa.

Holiday shows in Minnesota

A prevalent tradition across Minnesota is the staging of captivating holiday shows in theaters throughout the state. These shows, including renowned performances like ‘The Grinch,’ elevate the Christmas experience.

Acquiring tickets in advance allows you to immerse yourself in the festive spirit from early December through the entire holiday season. Joining locals in singing Christmas carols and enjoying classics such as ‘The Nutcracker’ adds an extra charm to the holiday festivities.

Christkindlmarkt in Minnesota

Minnesota boasts rich cultural diversity, heavily influenced by European traditions that thrive in the region. One standout manifestation of this influence is the Christkindlmarkt, a bustling market brimming with items perfect for the Christmas season.

Beyond a variety of local delicacies, the market offers an array of seasonal goods, European-inspired items, and beverages. It’s an ideal gathering place where families and friends can delight in both shopping for souvenirs and savoring delightful dishes.

Winter village in Minnesota

Exploring the northern part of Minnesota during Christmas unveils unique experiences, particularly in the Duluth Winter Village. This seasonal market, open on weekends, offers an authentic Christmas atmosphere.

Supporting local vendors, the market showcases a range of products, from locally made items to custom-built cabins.

It’s an opportunity not only to immerse yourself in the festive spirit but also to engage in activities that promote local production and community support.

Historic home tours

Exploring historic homes in Minnesota during Christmas offers a unique glimpse into the state’s rich past. Embark on tours through the halls of renowned sites like the Hubbard House in Mankato or the Mayowood Mansion in Rochester.

These visits unravel the region’s history, providing insight into how Christmas was celebrated over a century ago. It’s a fascinating window into Victorian-era holiday traditions.

The Northern Express

The Northern Express isn’t just a market; it’s a spectacular Christmas extravaganza that’s a must-visit in the region. Taking place over weekends from Friday to Sunday, it’s a hub of festive celebration where locals and visitors alike immerse themselves in unique state traditions.

From Christmas characters to llamas, reindeer, and vibrant Christmas trees, this event ignites the holiday spirit. Plan a visit in early December to seize the countless opportunities this magical place offers for your Christmas explorations.

Julmarknad Handcraft Market and Festival

For an authentic European Christmas experience, the American Swedish Institute’s Julmarknad is a must-visit. Held on December 3rd and 4th, this event offers an immersive interaction with both local and American Swedish communities.

Explore a variety of Nordic wearables and unique goods like kiln-crafted items available for purchase. The festival boasts musical performances, art displays, and captivating shows, creating a vibrant atmosphere of celebration and culture.


Learn more about the Christmas customs and traditions in other US states:

Aurimas Bio

Hi there! I’m Aurimas, a man behind Go Look Explore. I’m passionate about hiking, exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations, and everything outdoors related. Let’s connect.