Minneapolis' annual parade of lights, music and storybook characters ends Sunday, a week before Christmas, so here are other ideas for free and cheap family-oriented holiday activities.
If you have visions of sitting on Nicollet Mall and watching the Holidazzle parade on Christmas Eve with a thermos of hot cocoa, you're going to have to reschedule your plans. The annual procession of lights, music and storybook characters ends Sunday, a whole week before Christmas Day.
According to the Minneapolis Downtown Council, which puts on the spectacle, the early finish -- the Sunday before Christmas for the past four years -- is due to a shortage of volunteers. It takes more than 300 people to put on the show.
There are four more opportunities to see Holidazzle this season, Thursday through Sunday at 6:30 p.m. If you're looking for other preholiday family activities, here are a few suggestions:
Santaland and Puppet Theater: "A Day in the Life of an Elf." (Store hours through Dec. 30. Free. Macy's, 700 Nicollet Mall, Mpls. 612-375-2200.)
Holiday Flower Show: The Sunken Garden showcases varieties of poinsettia. (10 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. $1-$2. Marjorie McNeely Conservatory, 1225 Estabrook Dr., St. Paul. 651-487-8200. www.comozooconservatory.org.)
IBEW Holiday Lights in the Park: Light sculptures and animated displays. Proceeds benefit local charities. (5:30-10 p.m. daily through Jan. 1. $8-$10 per vehicle. Phalen Park, Wheelock Pkwy. and Phalen Dr., St. Paul. 651-266-6400.)
Night Trains: The lights are turned down as a giant O-scale model train layout comes alive in a snowy setting with miniature Christmas lights, decorations and the Christmas Train. (6-9 p.m. Saturdays through Feb. 25. $8. Twin City Model Railroad Museum, Bandana Square, 1021 E. Bandana Blvd., St. Paul. 651-647-9628.)
Traditions in Twenty: A tour of the Nordic Christmas Rooms. (6:30 p.m. Dec. 28. $4-$6. American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Av. S., Mpls. 612-871-4907.)
Winterlights: Celebrating the Season: The period rooms are decorated to reflect 17th- to 19th-century holiday traditions. (Museum hours. Free. Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2400 3rd Av. S., Mpls. 612-870-3131.)
Winterlights at the Purcell-Cutts House: Tours of the Prairie School house, decorated in period holiday fashion. (Sat.-Sun., call for reservations. $4-$5. 2328 Lake Place, Mpls. 612-870-3000.)