photo by dusty hoskovec photography via holidazzle
British Arrow Awards | Through 12/30
Back in the ’80s, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis started screening the U.K.’s weirdest, highest-quality commercials, and it has since become a popular annual tradition. These play more like mini-films, so you won’t feel bad binge watching Britain’s best for 73 minutes.
Holidazzle | Through 12/23
In downtown Minneapolis, Loring Park’s annual holiday village pops up, selling pierogis, sausages, pretzels, beer, artisanal gifts, and more in a huddle of steam and lights. Check out fireworks, movie nights, and illuminated art installations, including the Wolf and Moose exhibit by local artist Christopher Lutter-Gardella.
Union Depot Holiday Events | Through 12/9
The North Pole Express steam engine rumbled into St. Paul’s Union Station November 29, Santa onboard. With a huge holiday tree lit up, fireworks crackling above, and Elf playing in the lobby, the scene was complete. Outside, the European Christmas Market runs the first two weekends of December, and there’s a bake sale December 8. Plus: mulled wine, European snacks, live music—all with a stunning downtown view.
photo by jackie scherer
Holiday Flower Show | 12/1-1/6
The Como Park Conservatory fills its warm St. Paul greenhouse with hundreds of poinsettias. In 2018, they get Victorian styling: bright red, accented with purple salvia, lavender, and scented geraniums.
The Wickhams: Christmas At Pemberley | 12/1-30
Inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, non-canonical holiday sequel Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley proved such a hit at Minneapolis’ Jungle Theater last year that there’s a new commission. This time, it’s about the servants. How would Christmas have fared in the estate’s downstairs quarters with the Bennets coming to visit? Co-written by Lauren Gunderson, the most-produced living playwright, this co-premiere (with theaters in Chicago and California) honors her adage: “You know what people love? Jane Austen. You know what people really love? Christmas and Jane Austen,” she told The New Yorker.
Haley | 12/8
On her latest album, Pleasureland, local singer-songwriter Haley (formerly Bonar) forwent words to express how she felt. She communicates via piano, synths, guitar, and the sonic teamwork of many collaborators. Catch the release show at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis. (Listen to “Syrup” above.)
photo by jillian bell
Chill | 12/12-16
Inspired by the scene in A Charlie Brown Christmas of all the kids dancing weirdly to Vince Guaraldi’s bouncy piano music, Erinn Liebhard, artistic director of St. Paul’s Rhythmically Speaking, last year debuted dance concert Chill, where she modeled her own moves after the girl in purple whipping her hair side to side. Now, the nine-person number returns to its casual, beer-friendly setting at St. Paul’s Amsterdam Bar & Hall—this time with the original soundtrack performed in full by Minneapolis jazz quartet GST.
The Longest Night | 12/12-23
Since 2013, this annual cabaret show by Twin Cities actor Bradley Greenwald has comedically reflected on the dim side of the season (read: Seasonal Affective Disorder, holiday blues) while also describing its quiet beauty, accompanied by pianist Sonja Thompson at Open Eye Figure Theatre in south Minneapolis. Greenwald sings tunes from Rodgers and Hart, Bach, Leonard Cohen, Baroque composer Henry Purcell, pop-folk singer-songwriter Dar Williams, and others between performances of poems by Margaret Atwood, Ogden Nash, and Joseph Campbell.
Katie McMahon’s Celtic Christmas | 12/21
Katie McMahon got her start singing with Riverdance, that ’90s cultural phenomenon of traditional Irish music. Since moving to Minneapolis, she’s become a local phenom herself: For more than 10 years, the soprano has performed a holiday show at the O’Shaughnessy in St. Paul, taking on hallowed, non-schmaltzy Christmas songs accompanied by guest musicians and Corda Mór Irish dancers. (Listen to “The Holly and the Ivy” above.)
New Year’s Eve
photo courtesy chanhassen dinner theatres
New Year’s Eve | 12/31
Among the New Year’s shindigs filling Twin Cities venues is Chanhassen Dinner Theatres’ choose-your-own-party experience. Start with one of three shows (over dinner): Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn, An Andy & Bing Christmas, or Stevie Ray’s Comedy Cabaret, a frenzied, PG-13 revue of improv and sketches. After that, retire to the piano bar, to the DJ-tended Club Theatre, or to the dance floor with music by the Chanhassen Orchestra. They dole out champagne and noisemakers before midnight and coffee and sweets at the fireplace after.