Holiday Tradition: 20th Anniversary of Holidazzle

The Target Holidazzle Parade is one of my favorite holiday traditions. I bundle up, grab a hot chocolate, and find a spot on Nicollet Mall to watch it unfold. I love that Minneapolis found a way to celebrate winter in such a creative way. As lighted floats and rosy-cheeked costumed characters pass by, I can’t help but smile. It warms my heart and distracts from the, how shall I put this, less than pleasant temperature.


Photo by Todd Buchanan

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Holidazzle. The event formed in 1992 in an effort to attract people to downtown shops during the holiday season, and it worked—more than 300,000 people watch this local holiday tradition annually. Manned by hundreds of volunteer citizens each night, the Holidazzle is a wonderful community tradition. Some 12 fairytale floats and 250 characters, from Captain Hook to Princess and the Pea, covered in hundreds of twinkling lights, make their way down the pedestrian-friendly street each year.

The parades start this Friday and run through December 18. Catch the Holidazzle each Thursday through Sunday starting at 6:30 p.m. on Nicollet Mall between 12th and 4th streets in Minneapolis. The event is free. All you need is the appropriate outerwear for the weather and a good dose of holiday cheer. If you go early, you might snag a spot in the warmth of the skyways, but these spots fill up fast.

If you are looking to keep the holiday cheer going, stop in the Nicollet Mall Macy’s for A Day in the Life of an Elf. While the show hasn’t changed in the last few years (it used to rotate between storybook themes), this eighth-floor holiday display is a longstanding Minneapolis tradition (49 years!). If you’ve never been, it’s a family-friendly creative display and a great place to warm up after the parade (free, open store hours). Visitors can also meet Santa Claus, shop for gifts or watch Moose Crossing in Macy’s Puppet Theater ($4, showtimes vary).