Photo courtesy of Dusty Hoskovec
Holidazzle in Loring Park
Holidazzle returns to Loring Park for the season this Friday, with a little more dazzle in the way of food, shopping, and entertainment. Now in its second year at Loring Park, the annual outdoor celebration put on by the Minneapolis Downtown Council and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is on its way to becoming a family tradition.
The process of making Holidazzle into a stationary outdoor festival has been halting—to be expected when you slam the breaks on a 21-year-old light parade. When the Holidazzle Parade became the Holidazzle Village in Peavey Plaza two years ago, guests paid an admission fee, and it didn’t quite live up to the cherished Nicollet Mall tradition. The move to Loring Park last year—with its free admission, ice skating, and fireworks—was generally well received, and this year’s festival will build on that.
Here’s what you need to know:
Holidazzle runs Thursday-Sunday, Nov. 25-Dec. 23. Each weekend, Holidazzle will feature food vendors and merchants, live entertainment in the form of bands, choirs, and dance groups; movies in the park, free ice skating, and Kris Kringle himself.
Each day at Holidazzle is bit different. This Friday, Nov. 25, opens with fireworks and the official lighting of the Holidazzle Village. (You’ll have additional chances to catch fireworks on Dec. 3, 10, 17, and 23. Free carriage rides will be available on Dec. 2, 9, and 16. Check the website for a complete daily line up.
Parking on the streets around Loring Park is extremely limited, so be prepared. Parking is available for $5 or less at IDS Center, Minneapolis Community & Technical College, Parade Park, and the Walker Art Center. If you want to avoid parking downtown completely, this year Metro Transit is offering free all-day bus passes each Saturday of Holidazzle. Pro Tip: Make reservations at one of the surrounding restaurants (see below), and utilize valet parking.
Plan to drink and snack at Holidazzle...and then warm up over dinner a a nearby restaurant. Nuts will be roasting, Kramarczuk’s sausages will be served, and there will be mini donuts, tiny pancakes, cheese curds, Spyhouse coffee, and more items that make it feel like a veritable winter State Fair. Pick up a limited edition Holidazzle Proper Porter from Fulton’s beer garden. If you’re looking for a toastier drink, Sociable Cider Werks is bringing their Fat Bike Hot Mulled Cider to melt the frost off fingers.
Dara’s Tip: “I stand by my advice from last year—the smart Holidazzler gets a dinner reservation well in advance. Esker Grove (the new Doug Flicker restaurant at the Walker Art Center) is supposed to be open Dec.1, and of course the Walker has the good underground heated parking. Lurcat is an obvious good choice, as is 4 Bells, Eggy’s Diner, and Lakes & Legends—be sure to check their food-truck schedule.”
Shopping at Holidazzle ranges from crafty and festive to heritage and investment pieces. As is a Holidazzle tradition, Kathe Wohlfahrt offers traditional Christmas ornaments. Faribault Woolen Mill will sell its Minnesota-made blankets. Different brands will pop up each weekend, including Merchant Leather, selling entirely handmade bags and accessories and Hagen & Oats, selling Minnesota-themed wooden accessories.
Pro Tip: Give back this year, and buy from a vendor that keeps on giving. Love Your Melon, Fair Anita, Hippy Feet, and My Sister—three companies that donate at least a portion of proceeds to a cause—will all be there to make your gifts count a little extra this season.
Of course, it’s not all shopping and eating, even though that’s how the holiday season can feel sometimes. Enjoy free ice skating throughout Holidazzle, and this year, they’re offering complimentary skates. (The skates are first-come/first-served, though, so you might want to bring your own if you have them). Also new this year: a Kids’ Zone chock-full of hay bales and games. And for the truly dedicated, put on a few extra layers and catch an outdoor movie on the weekends. But beware, It’s a Wonderful Life is conspicuously missing.
For the full schedule, visit holidazzle.com