Best Events in MN, Nov.-Dec. 2019

These 30 events mark the best ways to round out 2019—from musicals and comedy shows to holiday markets and gingerbread houses
Rajane Katurah as Cinderella
Rajané Katurah as Cinderella

Photo by Kaitlin Randolph


After the Fall of Hmong Tebchaw

Laos-born, St. Paul-raised Pao Houa Her has earned a McKnight fellowship for photography often depicting local Hmong Americans. Now, in black-and-white portraits at the Catherine G. Murphy Gallery in St. Paul, she turns her lens toward loss: after immigration, and after a recent Ponzi scheme that targeted Hmong elders.




In Minneapolis, the Children’s Theatre Company’s non-Disney take on Cinderella slips in holiday carols, audience play, and pop-culture jokes only the grown-ups will get.



Jonathan Van Ness

As the grooming expert on hit Netflix show Queer Eye would put it, JVN has a cute comedy moment at State Theatre in Minneapolis during a worldwide tour. Can you believe?



World Warriors

Minneapolis artist Kristi Abbott follows up on her 2018 multi-media collage series Woman Warriors, now throwing men into her cross-continental mix of characters. At the Artistry gallery, in Bloomington, they convey strength as embodied around the world, whether dressed in traditional South American regalia or East Asian embroidery and tattoos.



The Mesoamerican Experience (MEX)

Local sculptor Aldo Moroni unveils a mountainscape in miniature, chronicling Mesoamerica from the Mayans to modern Mexico, at the new Aldo Moroni Studios in northeast Minneapolis. (Moroni celebrates the grand opening—plus Día de Los Muertos, plus his 50-year career—Nov. 1-3 with food and live music.)



Lake Superior Storm Festival

A storm-gear fashion show, a dash through Lake Superior waves at Lutsen Resort, shipwreck tales, and more mark the “Gales of November” in Grand Marais.



A Christmas Carol

The Guthrie Theater, in Minneapolis, has faithfully retold Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol for almost half a century.



Maria Bamford

The Duluth native, known for autobiographical comedy told via rapid-fire personas, sold out the Ordway, in St. Paul, last year. The Netflix star returns to talk mental health, marriage, and more. 



The Expressionist Figure: 100 Years of Modern and Contemporary Drawing

At the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis: 100-plus years of drawing in 100 works, from crayons to ink, from early-1900s Edgar Degas to local Anishinaabe artist Jim Denomie.

"The Phantom of the Opera"
“The Phantom of the Opera”

Photo by Matthew Murphy


The Phantom of the Opera

The chandelier falls again in a special-effects-festooned production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic, at MinneapolisOrpheum Theatre.



Black Nativity

In St. Paul, Penumbra Theatre founder Lou Bellamy stages Langston Hughes’ gospel-filled holiday classic, with choreography by the local TU Dance. 



Alyssa Baguss: Wish You Were Never Here

Minnesota artist Alyssa Baguss explores our constant yearning to be somewhere else and the way technology continually breaks our bond with the outdoors, constructing three new works for the Minneapolis Institute of Art.


Gingerbread Events

Frost a mini-Twin Cities building for the fifth Gingerbread Wonderland, on display at Norway House in Minneapolis (Nov. 22-Jan. 5); learn to make a gingerbread farm scene at Oliver Kelley Farm in Elk River (Dec. 7); and check out the workshop (Nov. 9) and Pepperkakebyen Gingerbread City at the Nordic Center in Duluth.



Native American Heritage Day

At the St. Louis County Historical Society in Duluth, speakers recognize this Indigenous-focused holiday, in addition to a feast and the Patriot Nations: Native Americans in Our Nation’s Armed Forces traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian.


11/30, 12/1

Minnesota Hmong New Year

The Saint Paul RiverCentre hosts local food and craft vendors, singing and dancing competitions, and thousands of attendees for the Hmong New Year.



Bentleyville Tour of Lights

The nation’s “largest free walk-through lighting display” drops 5 million sculpted lights on 20 acres of Bayfront Festival Park in Duluth.



British Arrow Awards

The U.K.’s most spectacular, out-there, heart-wrenching commercials screen for the 33rd year at MinneapolisWalker Art Center.


Holiday Markets

For shopping, European treats, mulled wine, live music, live reindeer, and live Santas, choose among German-inspired bazaars: the downtown Excelsior Christkindlsmarkt, Nov. 29-Dec. 1; the Holidazzle in downtown Minneapolis, Nov. 29-Dec. 22; and the European Christmas Market in downtown St. Paul, Nov. 29-Dec. 15—plus pop-up markets throughout the metro.



Small Business Saturday

These post-Black Friday deals center-stage small businesses: at Sociable Cider Werks in Minneapolis, an artisanal market with ciders and live music; at the shops on 50th & France in Edina, a tree-lighting ceremony; the Midway Holiday Pop-up Shop at the Celtic Junction Arts Center in St. Paul; and events at metro shops.



Katie McMahon’s Celtic Christmas

Old-timey carols and Irish dance return to the O’Shaughnessy in St. Paul courtesy of Riverdance singer and local icon Katie McMahon.



J.S. Ondara

The Kenya-born vocalist’s stunning Tales of America album made him a Rolling Stones “artist you need to know.” In his adopted city of Minneapolis, he performs at First Avenue.



Loyce Houlton’s Nutcracker Fantasy

Minnesota Dance Theatre’s annual take on Tchaikovsky and sugar plum fairies goes en pointe at State Theatre in Minneapolis.



Nick Swardson

Twin Cities-bred comic Nick Swardson has gone from early-career standup at Minneapolis’ Acme Comedy Co. to shows on Comedy Central and, now, back—to Treasure Island Resort & Casino in Welch.



New Year’s Eve

Twin Cities NYE parties in Minneapolis and St. Paul have your themes covered: Y2K (Fine Line Music Café), beer (City Works, HopCat), the 1920s (Metropolitan Ballroom), the Spice Girls (Amsterdam Bar & Hall), horror (Loring Bar & Restaurant), Batman (Union Rooftop Bar & Grill)—and many more.

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