The Best Events in MN, Sept.-Oct. 2019

These 21 events mark the best ways to spend fall—from the Twin Cities Film Festival and Oktoberfest to Darkness Day and the Haunted Basement
Haunted Basement

Photo by Dan Norman


The Defeat of Jesse James Days

Get a front row seat to historical reenactments of the bank raid of 1876, plus horse races, tractor pulls, carnival activities, a fine arts festival, and more in Northfield.



American Pottery Festival

The Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis hosts ceramic artists from across the nation to display and sell their work.



Red Bull Flugtag

Fifty teams launch themselves in homemade flying machines off a 30-foot platform on Harriet Island Regional Park in St. Paul to cover the most distance over the Mississippi River. Past aircraft have looked like pterodactyls and flying tacos.


9/7, 14, 21

Taste of the Trail

Idyllic Bluff Country small towns like Lanesboro, Fountain, Preston, and Houston offer up music, food, and activities along the bike-ready Root River State Trail.



Cocktails at the Castle

Inspired by exhibit The Vikings Begin, about the ancient Norse seafarers, this adults-only, after-hours museum party at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis includes pop-ups that introduce visitors to rune carving and falconry, plus live local music by Half Tramp, Monica LaPlante, and Aby Wolf.



Grape Stomp

This annual festival at Carlos Creek Winery in Alexandria is peak fall: music on four stages, over 150 vendors, wine, beer, and grape stomping.

Of Monsters and Men
Of Monsters and Men

Photo by Meredith Truax


Of Monsters and Men

Playing at Surly Festival Field in Minneapolis, the Iceland folk-rock act’s charm stems from the male-female vocal interplay between Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar Þórhallsson, sing-along choruses, and lush instrumentation—all throughout this summer’s Fever Dream release.



47th Annual Traditional Wacipi Honoring the 38 Dakota

In 1862, 38 Dakota men were hanged in Mankato, the largest mass execution in United States history. The Mahkato Mdewakanton Association hosts an annual pow wow at the Dakota Wokiksuye Makoce—also called the Land of Memories Park—to honor traditions and encourage healing through education, storytelling, and the preservation of Dakota culture.



Art Pop! Block Party

The inaugural block party will fill the intersection of 10th Street and Centennial Place of the Elliot Park Arts Quarter in Minneapolis with a local artist market, live art, and music performances (including headliner Sarah White), plus interactive activities for all ages.


Aaron Horkey, There Will Be Blood (2007) movie poster
Aaron Horkey,
There Will Be Blood (2007) movie poster

By Aaron Horkey


String Lakes Rag

Illustrator Aaron Horkey hosts a rare exhibition of his original drawings, screen-printed posters, and “various ephemeral flotsam” at the Cottonwood County Historical Society’s Remick Gallery in Windom. Horkey will showcase 100 or so pieces, including several limited-run movie posters created for the popular Mondo series of beautifully designed collectibles.



We Are Water MN

Meditate on the relationship between humans and water at this interactive, reflective exhibit hosted by Onamia’s Mille Lacs Indian Museum. This is the last stop on its Minnesota tour, with programming promoting the stewardship of water, grounded in the voices of Native American people. An Indigenous-led walk goes around Pokegama Lake in east-central Minnesota on September 13-14.



Graywolf Literary Gala

Wine, dine, and celebrate 45 years of Graywolf’s literary talent in a night featuring Eula Biss, Maggie Nelson, Claudia Rankine, and Danez Smith at Aria in Minneapolis.



Darkness Day

Camp out at Somerset Amphitheater in Somerset, Wisconsin (yes, the event has crossed the border), for a weekend of music, food, and drink hosted by Minneapolis-based Surly Brewing Co. Drink rare beers and Surly’s latest variants of its coveted Darkness Russian imperial stout.



Haunted Basement

The interactive and psychological horrors of the Haunted Basement return, but now to the Rosedale Shopping Center in Roseville, for a 13th (yikes!) year.


10/4-5, 11-12


Celebrate German culture in New Ulm’s historic downtown with parades, live music, good food, and craft beer from Schell’s Brewery.



Twin Cities Marathon

As the trees burst with color, it’s great to get out with friends and family and run a 5K, 10K, 10-mile, or full-blown marathon from Minneapolis to St. Paul this weekend.



Stillwater Harvest Fest

Go big or go home: Stillwater’s fall festival includes a pumpkin weigh-off, pumpkins dropping from cranes, and a giant-pumpkin regatta down the St. Croix River.



Twin Cities Book Festival

Gather at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St. Paul to chat with dozens of authors and peruse hundreds of exhibitors at this event for all ages.



Zombie Pub Crawl

Get your ghoulish make-up, fake blood, and best undead walk ready for a gathering of revelatory zombies and live music in downtown Minneapolis.



Twin Cities Film Festival

Head to ShowPlace Icon Theatres in St. Louis Park to see about 120 of the region’s best independent movies.



Wolves after Dark

Book a sleepover with your friends and family at the International Wolf Center in Ely to observe the wolves at night. Then, after breakfast, analyze your findings.


NOTE: The William A. Irvin Haunted Ship Tour in Duluth, previously listed in this article, has had to close for the 2019 season.

In southeast Minneapolis, the Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI) has had to cancel this year’s Indigenous Peoples Day Festival for lack of funding and to refine their approach, according to arts and culture engagement manager Alexandra Buffalohead. It is scheduled to return in 2020.