Holidazzle is free once again.
Minneapolis’ annual holiday event, which transitioned last year from a free parade to a ticketed marketplace, is doing away with admission fees and switching venues.
This year’s Holidazzle market will be held Thursdays through Sundays in Loring Park, starting the day after Thanksgiving (Nov. 27) and running through Dec. 20, according to the Downtown Council. The market moved because of construction on Nicollet Mall.
The marketplace aims to emulate European Christmas bazaars, featuring handmade trinkets, local food and entertainment.
The switch from a parade to a market got off to a rocky start last year. Some customers were peeved about the $6 entrance fee and crowd congestion in multilevel Peavey Plaza. In response to feedback, the Downtown Council said it nixed the fee and will also offer more fireworks.
The hours will be 5 to 9 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the weekend.
The event is hosted by the Downtown Council, but receives some city support. The city committed $395,000 in sales taxes to last year’s event. A city spokesman said Thursday that a subsequent $400,000 was committed toward the Downtown Council’s 2015 programming — which includes Holidazzle.
“I know it got some criticism, but it certainly brought a lot of people down to our part of town,” said Shane Higgins, general manager of Brit’s Pub on Nicollet Mall. “We had great business and we got good feedback from people.”
Higgins said on one Saturday the market drew in unprecedented winter — non-patio — business for the restaurant. He’s glad to see Holidazzle continue despite the Nicollet Mall construction.
“If it was going to move, perhaps Loring Park [was] the best place it could have gone,” Higgins said. “At least it’s not been postponed completely.”