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Twin Cities During the Holiday Season—10 Things You Can’t Miss

Holidazzle

Holidazzle parade. Photo by Todd Buchanan

1. Holidazzle

For 22 years, Nicollet Mall’s annual parade of lights has looked largely the same: a procession of fairy tale and holiday characters with costumes aglow in twinkling lights. The organizers are planning to reformulate the seasonal festivity for 2014, so this will be your last chance for traditional Holidazzle nostalgia. Bundle up! • holidazzle.com
 

2. Hill House Holidays

During the first three weekends in December, the grand Summit Avenue home of railroad baron James J. Hill hosts readings of classic Christmas Stories—O. Henry’s Gift of the Magi, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol—and performances of holiday music from the period. Petticoats optional. • mnhs.org
 

3. Wells Fargo Winterskate

Downtown St. Paul looks especially charming when its tree-lined streets are bedecked in holiday lights and ice skaters glide through the heart of the city. The seasonal rink in Landmark Plaza is free to the public from November 30 to February 2, with skate rental available for a modest fee. • wellsfargowinterskate.com
 

4. Holiday Lights Tour

Let somebody else map out the metro’s most dramatic residential and commercial displays of lights—and chauffeur you in a deluxe motor coach for a 2.5-hour tour of seasonal décor. • awardwinningcitytours.com
 

5. Holiday Flower Show

When the mercury drops below zero, there are few local spots more appealing than the lush, humid grounds of the Como Conservatory. During the conservatory’s holiday flower show, the place is packed with more poinsettias than you thought would ever fit under one glass dome. • comozooconservatory.org
 

6. Lutefisk Feed

Scandinavian-style whitefish—it’s dried and then rehydrated in a lye bath—has an admittedly awful reputation. In fact, Garrison Keillor once described it as “reminiscent of the afterbirth of a dog or the world's largest chunk of phlegm.” But the local feeds that celebrate this gelatinous fish have always been less about flavor (or texture) than convivial camaraderie. See the Lutefisk Lovers Lifeline’s 27-page spreadsheet listing all the restaurants, churches, and social clubs hosting lutefisk events. • lutfiskloverslifeline.com
 

7. Countryside Lefse

So you bravely sampled a bite or two of lutefisk, and now you’re just pushing it around on your plate. Fortunately, you can always fill up on lefse. Wisconsin’s hand-rolled Countryside lefse is available at grocers around the metro—and it’s best eaten spread with butter and sprinkled with sugar. • lefse.com
 

8. Wuollet Bakery Cookie Platter

This Twin Cities baking institution does all the classics right: gingerbread folk, Russian teacakes, spritz. Buy ‘em by the platter for holiday parties. • wuollet.com
 

9. Kalona Super Natural Eggnog

This Iowa-based dairy takes a less-is-more approach to its eggnog: It’s made with a short list of easily pronounceable, organic ingredients, and neither homogenized nor thickened with additives. But the right blend of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg makes the creamy drink taste just as festive as always. • kalonasupernaturtal.com
 

10. Salty Tart Bûche de Noël

Salty Tart’s French-style yule logs, crafted from sponge cake and chocolate buttercream, are worthless in the fireplace, but they sure do taste delicious and look impressive on a tabletop. • saltytart.com