Fireworks lit up the sky for Minneapolis’ winter Holidazzle festival Friday, marking the arrival of the holiday season on a day of unusually toasty temperatures.

As the free annual festival staged by the Downtown Council and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board kicked off, Loring Park was dotted with vendor tents, sculptures and trees decked in holiday lights.

The festival will run Thursdays through Sundays until Dec. 23. A full schedule is on the Holidazzle website.

An opening ceremony featuring speeches and a performance from the Minnesota Chorale served as prologue to the fireworks. An outdoor showing of the movie “Elf” followed.

The event features sculptures, a kids’ zone, food and drinks. A line for a visit and a photo with Santa snaked through the park. All the while, holiday carols filled the air.

Not everything went smoothly. The WinterSkate ice rink was down on Friday due to mechanical issues, Holidazzle officials said.

Holidazzle was a downtown Minneapolis tradition for more than two decades when it was an evening parade down Nicollet Mall. The event, now an outdoor market featuring food and gift vendors, moved to Loring Park in 2015.

On Friday night, visitors, both local and out-of-towners, gathered around fire pits and lounged in the Fulton Beer tent. “I was born with holiday spirit,” said Steve LaTart, 36, of Rogers, “but yes, I feel the holiday spirit today.”

Metro Transit is offering free bus rides to Holidazzle on Saturdays over the course of the event, and Uber is offering $5 off for the first 100 riders going to the festival each weekend. To find the Uber code or print off the transit voucher go to Holidazzle.com. Visitors can also park nearby for $5 or less.

 

Staff writer Faiza Mahamud contributed to this report.