November 2017 Minnesota Event Calendar

Not just for turkey, November serves up Gingerbread Wonderland, the Fish House Parade, the Black Jacket Symphony’s take on “Purple Rain,” and more

The Top 5


The Black Jacket Symphony.
The Black Jacket Symphony

photo by rob hereth

The Black Jacket Symphony Presents: Purple Rain 11/1

Have we reached peak Prince nostalgia yet? Not quite. The Black Jacket Symphony comes to the Ames Center in Burnsville to remember how Minnesota’s androgynous purveyor of lascivious metaphor and synthetic funk changed pop music. The traveling cover band performs landmark albums in their entirety—from the Beatles to Fleetwood Mac. Pilgrimaging to Prince’s home state for a formal invocation of Purple Rain, plus the hits, will feel a bit like church: residents’ moral obligation to come, sit, and appreciate equaling the group’s austere dedication to replicating every musical syllable verbatim. Look for him through the purple-tinted lights and machine-generated fog.


U of M marching band.
The University of Minnesota Marching Band

photo by gopher photo

Marching Band Indoor Concert 11/18, 11/19

The University of Minnesota Marching Band has claimed to have been the first, more than 50 years ago, to hold an indoor concert. Colleges across the country followed suit. In the Pride of Minnesota’s case, Minneapolis’ Northrop Auditorium fills with their brassy sonic storm, ordinarily buffeted by wind while, in a recent example, their ranks form a giant boat that goes scudding across home field (not to belabor new football coach P.J. Fleck’s trademarked mantra—and soon-to-be accented identifier of his adopted homestead—“Row the boat”). Alumni get a discount on the show of halftime favorites, including “Proud Mary” and “I Get Around.”


Gingerbread Wonderland.
Gingerbread Wonderland

photo courtesy of norway house

Gingerbread Wonderland 11/21–1/7

It’s a holiday catch-22: The more impressive a gingerbread house, the more you want to both eat and preserve it. That makes the Minneapolis Norway House’s Gingerbread Wonderland, in its third year, equally heart-warming and frustrating—with meticulously iced gingerbread replicas of Twin Cities edifices. Last year saw a pretzel-columned Minneapolis City Hall and a toasted Mill City Museum. Local bakers embrace the finicky materials (hard candies prone to evaporate, for example, making them unsound as, say, flying buttresses), but, fortunately, Norway House provides architecturally optimal dough and icing recipes for amateurs looking to contribute a metro structure to the snowed-in cookie village between November 7 and 17.


Fish House Parade in Aitkin.
Fish House Parade

photo by Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Fish House Parade 11/24

The small town of Aitkin, ensconced amid a smattering of lakes just north of Mille Lacs, has long observed fishing with near piety—and, alas, we’ve angered the weather gods. Last winter, Aitkin ice fishers mothballed their shanties early after a fish house on Cedar Lake sunk through the crackling surface. Small-town tradition never yields, so you can depend on those outhouse-size shelters appearing in Aitkin’s decades-old Fish House Parade. On Black Friday, fisherpeople gussy up their ice shacks in holiday cheer à la Snoopy’s doghouse and wheel them down Main Street. Among 50 or so floats—a giant toothy bass, for example—the procession doesn’t throw Swedish Fish at gawking out-of-staters, but maybe it should.

Excelsior Christkindlsmarkt 11/24–26

Holidazzle is dead; long live Holidazzle—in its relatively new form as a European-style market. Has the open-air Loring Park bazaar replaced the soul of the original Minneapolis parade (also the soul of an adult dressed as a giant holiday lightbulb tripping down Nicollet Mall)? Online reviews of the event have said: It’s expensive and muddy. More tried and tested, the 11-year-old holiday market in Excelsior also emulates Dresden’s 700-year-old fest (“Christkindlsmarkt,” German for “Christmas market”). It bears the obligatory trappings of golden-windowed comfort: roasted almonds, strudels, gluehwein—a warm, mulled red, spiced and sweetened. Delude yourself into thinking your screen-addicted kids will play with wooden toys sold in cute tents, then impulse-buy an alpaca sweater you’ll love while riding the downtown trolley—and blush at thereafter.


More This Month


Wine, Women & Musical Comedy, 11/4

Three sisters based in Northfield and Savage blend their singing and comedy talents as Sister Productions, and the title of their new show, “Blaze Orange is the New Black”—referring to that garish hunter’s hue—should cue you in to the Midwest spin they put on their rock-roll-’n’-wine-tasting revue at the Paradise Center for the Arts in Faribault.

Native American Family Day, 11/4

Artists from local Native American communities share stories of their history, also showcased in the St. Paul Minnesota History Center’s “Renewing What They Gave Us” exhibit, displaying beadwork, textile pieces made of birch bark, and other works crafted by artists-in-residence of the Upper Midwest.

Lake Superior Storm Festival, 11/10–12

As the so-called “Gales of November” toss and turn Lake Superior, this Grand Marais fest capitalizes on a frightening month we otherwise associate with the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sinking—by hosting a storm-gear fashion show, painting classes, and the wave dash, where you high-knee it through the crashers of Superior before warming up beside a beach fire.

The Music Of Queen, 11/17

The Mankato Symphony Orchestra channels glam-rock band Queen, the ’80s hit-maker that could have rivaled the Beatles had lead singer Freddie Mercury—and the band’s cheeky name—not chafed against Reagan-era America. Who would’ve thought that, today, a southern Minnesota orchestra would put bow to string for “We Will Rock You”?


A production of The Marriage of Figaro.
The Marriage Of Figaro

photo courtesy of Minnesota Opera

The Marriage Of Figaro, 11/11–19

Nineteenth-century composer Johannes Brahms called this opera perfect. For those who prefer standard-bearing librettos to the Minnesota Opera’s lineup of the strange and new (The Shining, The Handmaid’s Tale), this take on Mozart’s sequel to The Barber of Seville reveals what Brahms was talking about.


A production of Waitress.

photo by joan marcus

Waitress, 11/21–26

Musical Waitress debuted on Broadway last year, fitting pop songs to a sometimes saccharine story of a waitress who falls into baking to distract herself from an unhappy marriage. The production’s all-female creative team brings the Sara Bareilles–scored show to the Orpheum in Minneapolis.

Small Business Saturday Winter Market, 11/25

You don’t feel as wholesome leaving the mall as you do departing an open-air small-business market, such as the gathering at Sociable Cider Werks in Minneapolis, where research has shown your money contributes thrice as much to your local economy as when you shop at national chains. Food vendors join the usual gift shops this year.