What’s a better way to get in the holiday spirit than enjoying one of the many holiday events that the surrounding area has to offer? Whether you’re looking for a walk among hundreds of thousands of lights or a street dance, Southern Minnesota has an event tailored for just about everyone.
Canadian Pacific Holiday Train
On Nov. 25 and 26, two trains will disembark from Montreal, Quebec, heading on routes to the U.S. and Canada bringing thousands of people among 182 communities holiday cheer. The free event is also an opportunity for community members to help support local food banks by bringing nonperishable food donations to the Holiday Train.
Musical acts Terri Clark, Kelly Prescott and Dallas Smith will be aboard the holiday train performing for crowds on stops in Kasson, Owatonna, Waseca and Janesville.
You can catch them at each town on Tuesday, Dec. 5 in:
Kasson, 2:35-3:05 p.m., East Main Street between First Avenue Northeast and Second Avenue Northeast.
Owatonna, 4:15-4:45 p.m., 1145 Park Drive at the railroad crossing near Owatonna Bus Company
Waseca, 6-6:30 p.m., 308 South State Street and Highway 13
Janesville, 7:45-8:15 p.m., 236 Front Street at Veteran’s Memorial Park between Main and Craig streets
For more information visit www.cpr.ca.
Kiwanis Holiday Lights
More than 1.5 million LED lights will brighten up Sibley Park in Mankato from Nov. 24 through Dec. 31. In the sixth year of operation, the 2017 Kiwanis Holiday Light attractions include miles of lights (including animated), a skating rink and warming house, horse-drawn wagon rides, Santa Clause, live reindeer and ice sculptures.
“Winter in Minnesota is dreary, dark and cold, but I think it brightens up people’s days to see the Holiday Lights,” Kiwanis Holiday Lights Board President Scott Wojcik said.
Though there are 13 people on the Kiwanis Holiday Lights Board and five on an executive board, the group is joined by more than 85 nonprofit organizations making up 2,000 individuals in greater Mankato who volunteer their time to help with the event.
“It takes a small army to put on the Kiwanis Holiday Lights,” Wojcik said. “People donate countless hours of their time and not just down at the park; it’s spent meeting in the offseason, marketing, finding sponsorships and fundraisers, too.”
Though it takes thousands of hours and many volunteers, the effort is worth it when the lights are turned on each year, Wojcik said.
“I love seeing the faces of people going through the park and watching them smile and stare in awe at what’s here,” he said. “We take pride that there is something exciting and new each year. We don’t want to get stale; we bring in different lights, different displays and set up our moving lights to different songs each year.”
The Kiwanis Holiday Lights run 5-9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 5-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The event is free, but cash and non-perishable food donations are accepted at all entrances. Food is donated to local food banks and a portion of the money is donated back to the nonprofits who volunteer at the event, Wojcik said.
For more information visit kiwanisholidaylights.com.
Faribault Hometown Holidays and Winterfest
If you’re headed to Faribault’s Hometown Holidays and Winterfest celebration, be ready for lights, glitz, a touch of magic and a dose of nostalgia said Faribault Chamber Information Specialist Kelly Nygaard on behalf of Faribault Main Street.
“It’s a great time to be out enjoying the town and downtown area,” she said. “You get a sense of hometown pride with these events and it’s a great reminder of local shopping opportunities. It’s so fun for the whole family and it’s a tradition that gets passed on year after year.”
Winterfest begins Thursday, Nov. 30 with the annual window decorating contest throughout downtown Faribault. Participating shops have the opportunity to choose their own theme or they can use the name of Paradise Center for the Art’s holiday production, “Coconuts and Mistletoe.” The night will also include free horse-drawn wagon rides and an ice carving demonstration by Adam Scholljegerdes.
Hometown Holidays will kick off on Saturday, Dec. 2 with a family friendly movie sponsored by Faribault Parks and Recreation and the Village Family Theater. After the movie, a parade of lights will make its way around the downtown area. Local organizations and families are invited to join in on the fun before attending a street dance that will follow.
Nygaard said Hometown Holidays and Winterfest wouldn’t be a success without all of Main Street’s efforts.
“The community involvement is essential to the Main Street program and we truly appreciate the people that take the time out of their days to assist,” she said. “Hometown Holidays and Winterfest are a multifaceted benefit for the town. We’re going big this year and we’re so excited.”
For more information follow Faribault Main Street on Facebook or visit faribaultmainstreet.org.
Christmas Time’s a Comin’
Enjoy a night of music at the Starfire Event Center in Waseca as you watch the country-gospel and holiday musical performance Christmas Time’s a Comin.’
Tickets are available from Waseca Music Company and are $15 per ticket. Show times are 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 16 and 7 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 17.
Proceeds from the ninth annual holiday gospel show will benefit Mayo Clinic Health Systems Hospice and the American Red Cross.
For more information visit facebook.com/ctarocks.
Northfield Winter Walk
You’re not going to want to miss a night of horse drawn wagon rides, tree lighting and Snowflake Ornament Hunt on Dec. 7. Northfield’s 19th annual Winter Walk runs 5-9 p.m., beginning with a tree lighting ceremony in Bridge Square, followed by the inaugural community sing featuring “Welcome Christmas” from Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
The event, which is put on by the Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, along with a small group of volunteers of the Be Local – Buy Local Committee, will also include caroling, a luminary lined downtown, model train display at the library and holiday treats, discounts and prize drawings at local stores.
“It’s amazing how businesses and community members come together and make such a wonderful event each year,” Director of Member Services of Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Lindsay Reddy said. “Winter Walk not only provides a boost to downtown retailers and restaurants, but also to the overall community.”
For more information visit northfieldchamber.com/WinterWalk.
By Anna Vangsness