Santa likes to beat the Black Friday rush. Though we (well, I) have yet to finalize the Thanksgiving menu or fully transition to wool tights, Santa is arriving at the mall(s) this week. He’s already posing for pictures at Burnsville Center and Maplewood Mall. Here are a few places where you can catch his grand entrance this week.
Mall of America: Santa arrives tonight at 6 p.m. with typical MOA fanfare—a ceremony in the Rotunda including performances by the Choo Choo Bob Show and Minnesota Dance Collaborative. Treats will be provided by Grandma’s Cookies, and Toys for Tots will be collecting holiday donations for kids in need. Afterwards, Santa takes up seasonal residency in SantaLand, over in the Southeast Court, where the Shop Local holiday market will also be located.
Great Lakes Clothing Co. opens a holiday pop-up store this week at Ridgedale Center, and will be part of Shop Local at MOA.
Ridgedale Center: Santa will make himself at home in his “cabin” in the north woods of Ridgedale’s center court on Thursday, Nov. 12. His regular hours are Monday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sundays in November, Noon to 6 p.m. If he’s late, it’s probably because this is his first chance to check out the new Nordstrom. New this year: make a reservation with Santa by pre-purchasing a photo package at mysantaexperience.com. Ridgedale’s holiday pop-up stores and kiosks are ready for Santa to shop. They include Uptown MN, featuring an array of local artisans and brands, longtime local retailers Pappagallo, American Girl, Bijouxx Jewels, Brookstone and Whole Foods. The one to watch: Great Lakes Collection, returning for its second year, this up and coming brand makes shirts, hats, and more inspired by Minnesota life. (Great Lakes is also part of Mall of America’s Shop Local pop-up.)
Rosedale Center: Santa arrives Thursday, Nov. 12 in Herberger’s Court. That’s in advance of the Merry Market, which opens Nov. 23 in the former Border’s space featuring local vendors, crafts, holiday gifts and more.
Eden Prairie Center: Help welcome Santa on Friday, Nov. 13, 6 to 8 p.m. in Sears Court. The Twin Cities Road Crew will be on hand with music, dancing, games, crafts and giveaways. Skip the line and make a reservation with Santa at edenprairiecenter.com.
Southdale Center: Santa glides in on Saturday, Nov. 14—same day the mall’s first-ever outdoor skating rink opens (it’s chilled, so warm temps won’t cause delay). As previously reported, the rink is free and open to the public during mall hours through Jan. 3—but bring your own skates, rentals will not be available. To celebrate the opening, Southdale will be giving away pairs of Minnesota Wild and Minnesota Timberwolves tickets. Free refreshments will be provided on weekends by mall tenants including Caribou Coffee, Macy’s and Dave and Buster’s. Santa’s photo station is on the bridge over Center Court (be glad this is not one of the Simon Centers where Santa’s festive home was replaced by a weird glacier. Seriously).
Macy’s Downtown Minneapolis: Santa heads downtown on Nov. 21. That’s opening day for Santaland, Macy’s annual animated story of Santa’s elves preparing for Christmas at the North Pole. The exhibit is free and open to the public during store hours. After meeting Santa, guests will want to make a stop at Mrs. Claus' Holiday Bakery and Santa's Toy Shop. New this year: Build-A-Bear Workshop brings its interactive retail experience to Macy's shoppers, who will have the opportunity to customize Build-A-Bear stuffed animals as well as licensed products including Minions and Marvel superheroes.
So which mall has the best Santa? Check out our 2014 Santa tracker, and let us know how they stack up this season!