2006 Holiday Happenings

Minnesota offers such a festive selection of special holiday events and holiday getaways, it’s hard to keep track of them all. We highlighted a few of our favorites.

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Afton Holiday Weekend

Afton, MN

It’s hard not to feel jolly this time of the year, especially when towns like Afton—a quaint town on the St. Croix River—host entire weekends devoted to the festive season.

The Afton Holiday Weekend will be held Dec. 8-10 and includes activities and discounted specials at local restaurants and shops. Carolers will be singing, shop owners will be offering complimentary cider, cookies and treats, and Santa has rearranged his busy schedule to make an early appearance.

On Saturday Dec. 9, families can enjoy Breakfast with Santa at the Catfish Saloon and Café from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., and holiday picture decorating from 9 a.m. to noon. After breakfast, get some holiday shopping done at the unique galleries and boutiques in Historic Afton Village.

Have brunch at the Afton House Inn on Sunday, Dec. 10, from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. before heading over to Historical Museum and Afton Art Gallery for kids’ art projects. Santa will be visiting local shops from noon to 4 p.m. Dec. 10.

The Afton House Inn is the perfect romantic getaway close to home, says Dan Jarvis, co-owner of the inn. On the National Register of Historic Places, the inn was built in 1867 and still retains much of its original charm.

The Afton House Inn is also a great location for holiday parties, he says. An original gift idea is a gift certificate for dining at the casual Catfish Saloon and Café (in the Afton House Inn), dining at the elegant Afton House Inn, lodging at the Afton House Inn, or a cruise on the Afton-Hudson Cruise Lines. The cruise lines run from April through October. For more information, visit www.aftonhouseinn.com.

Bluefin Bay on Lake Superior

Tofte, MN

Escape the city sidewalks, busy sidewalks during the slushy holiday season and consider a trip north to Bluefin Bay on Lake Superior. Bluefin Bay is known as a perfect family retreat with first-class amenities and stunningly gorgeous scenery (on the shores of crystal clear Lake Superior). Guests can choose from rustic studios with lofts to three bedroom elite townhomes, many featuring panoramic views of the lake.

For those who prefer an active holiday getaway, some of the best cross-country and snowshoeing ski terrain can be found right outside your door. Wind through Superior National Forest on groomed and tracked trails, admiring the pristine beauty of the Northwoods. If you’re craving black diamond action, Bluefin Bay is only a short drive from Lutsen Mountains, the largest ski/snowboard area in seven states.

At the end of the day, relax with a glass of wine or beer, fresh Lake Superior Trout, a juicy burger, or a made-from-scratch dessert at the casual Bluefin Grille, or a salad, sandwich, or pizza from the Coho Café. As the snow falls outside, snuggle up to a crackling fire from the comforts of your warm and cozy room. For more information, visit www.bluefinbay.com.

Photo courtesy of TCF Holidazzle

TCF Holidazzle

Minneapolis, MN

Spectacular, sparkling, fairy tale floats are part of the fun at the 15th annual TCF Holidazzle, held on Wednesday through Sunday from November 24 through December 23 on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. Parade-goers can enjoy nearly 250 costumed characters, marching bands (outlined in lights!), celebrity grand marshals, and parade floats decorated in storybook themes. All parades start at 6:30 p.m. and last about 30 minutes. Two TCF Hot Seats—seats in an enclosed heated grandstand—can be reserved with $250 in retail purchases from downtown Minneapolis merchants. Come downtown early and stay late, or make a night of it. Create a memorable family night or turn the parade into a romantic winter date. Many stores have extended hours for holiday shopping. For more information, visit www.tcfholidazzle.com.

Welch Village Ski and Snowboard Area

Welch, MN

Whoosh down a hill with the wind in your face at Welch Village Ski and Snowboard area, located south of Hastings. The exercise is good for you, the cold air can be refreshing, and your options are endless when the world is your winter wonderland.

Photo courtesy of Welch Village

Welch Village Resort is a first-class Midwestern ski and snowboard area, having the latest in terrain features, uphill transportation and snowmaking technology. With 50 runs on the bluffs in the scenic Cannon River Valley, the resort offers breath-taking beauty and an outstanding alpine experience. A large day lodge accommodates groups and families, and adults are served at the Madd Jaxx bistro. Professional instruction and rental equipment are available for first-timers to experts in the sport. For more information go to www.welchvillage.com.

Bayfield, Wisconsin

The holiday madness comes but once a year—but for some, once is more than enough. Why not plan a trip to Bayfield, Wisconsin for a change of pace and unassuming atmosphere? Not only is Bayfield a charming small town on the northern shores of Lake Superior, it’s also the gateway to the Apostle Islands. Head out to the islands for a snowshoeing or windsledding adventure, or visit the frozen waterfalls of the ice caves.

No holiday season is complete without shopping. Enjoy Bayfield’s Hometown Holiday Shopping Season from November 24 through December 31.

Don’t miss the festive “kick off to the holidays” Tree Lighting Ceremony at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 25. Following the ceremony, warm up in the Lakeside Pavilion and enjoy holiday treats while listening to Christmas carols performed by the Rittenhouse Inn Singers.

Santa and Mrs. Claus will catch a ride to Bayfield on the Madeline Island Ferry at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, December 2. Upon their arrival, kids will get an opportunity to meet Santa and have a picture taken in the Lakeside Pavilion. Each child will also receive a goody bag from Mrs. Clause and lunch, compliments of the Bayfield Chamber.

The Holiday Spirit Arts and Crafts Sale will be held December 9 at the Bayfield Inn, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This event coincides with the Keepers of the Magic Christmas Tea (also at the Bayfield Inn). December 9 is a busy day in Bayfield, as The Holiday Spirit Gallery Tour will also take place that day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit www.bayfield.org or call 1-800-447-4094.

Arrowwood Resort and Conference Center

Alexandria, MN

Arrowwood Resort and Conference Center has it all: iconic wintertime standards like ice skating, nightly bonfires, snowmobile rentals, horse-drawn sleigh rides and luxury resort amenities including the new Darling Reflections Spa—a full-service massage and treatment spa. Arrowwood’s 38,000-square-foot indoor water park features three four-story slides, the “Lazy River” inner tube ride, a tropical whirlpool spa, the lily pad waterwalk, basketball shoot out, a children’s play fort with water blasters, and a 500-gallon splash bucket. Many suites feature fireplaces, double whirlpool spas, lofts, and kitchenettes. For more information, visit www.arrowwoodresort.com.

Katie McMahon’s Celtic Christmas

The O’Shaughnessy Auditorium
College of St. Catherine, St. Paul

Get into the spirit of Christmas on Saturday, Dec. 9 as Katie McMahon and Celtic musicians, singers, and dancers take you on a delightful musical journey to Ireland, with beautiful traditional Irish carols interspersed with lively Irish dancing and stories.

McMahon (the original voice of Riverdance) is one of many women involved in The O’Shaughnessy “Women of Substance” series. The series, founded in 1996, hosts local and national artists and strives to remind audience members of the importance of living lives of substance.

McMahon and her talented crew will provide an unforgettable evening of Celtic entertainment—perfect for the whole family! Make this part of your annual holiday tradition.

Tickets range from $9-24. To reserve your seats, call 651-690-6700 or visit www.ticketmaster.com. For more information, visit www.theoshaughnessy.com or www.katiemcmahon.com.