A fresh blanket of snow adds a wintry touch to Holidazzle, the annual free holiday celebration of lights, entertainment and shopping, which returns Friday to Loring Park in downtown Minneapolis.
There will be fireworks on opening night and every Saturday during the festival, which is open Thursdays through Sundays until Dec. 22.
People can soak in the holiday spirit with visits from Santa Claus, movies and story times, ice skating, and a market featuring products from 17 local vendors and artisans, said Leah Wong, vice president of external relations for the Minneapolis Downtown Council.
“Holidazzle is a great place for the community to gather. There is truly something for everyone,” she said. “It’s a unique experience and you can do different things every time you come.”
To keep the celebration fresh, new offerings this year range from Fulton brewery’s “Small Talk Stout” and “Goodwill Gold” lager, appearances by rescue animals, disco ice skating and a 17-foot interactive illuminated yeti art installation by Christopher Lutter-Gardella.
Holidazzle started in the 1990s as a parade featuring floats, lights and music on Nicollet Mall. But the Downtown Council reformatted the event in 2014 and moved it to Loring Park in 2015, offering people a broader choice of activities.
“We are the ‘Bold North’ and Minnesotans like to get out,” Wong said. “We are attracting more people in the current format because people can engage and choose their own adventure. It’s not a passive activity like a parade.”
People attending Holidazzle can park for $5 at some nearby lots and garages. Metro Transit offers free rides by bus or light rail on Saturdays for people who print a pass that is available online. For more information, visit holidazzle.com.