The holidays are expensive enough already. Here's several holiday events where you can enjoy some holiday cheer and get into the festive spirit for free.
The flagship Macy's store on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis creates a wonderland of animated holiday characters for their annual Santaland Holiday Display, A Day in the Life of an Elf. They've been doing it almost 50 years, and it's free to visit. Open every day from November 17 - December 24 2012, except Thanksgiving Day.
An annual holiday tradition in Minneapolis. The Holidazzle Parade starts on November 23, and there is a parade every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening until December 23. The parade is on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis, and starts at 6.30 p.m.
The parade is truly dazzling, with thousands upon thousands of lights on floats, vehicles, marchers, dancers and more. Brave the cold and windchill to see the show, or get there early and snag a spot in a skyway above Nicollet Mall.
Downtown St. Paul gets its own outdoor ice rink every winter. The Winterskate rink is next to the Landmark Center and Rice Park, so it's surrounded by holiday lights and the city lights of downtown St. Paul. The rink is open every day, and open until late evening at the weekend.
It's free to skate if you have your own ice skates, or you can rent skates for a couple of dollars.
This year, Winterskate presents Rock the Ice: local musicians playing a free concert for ice skaters on selected evenings. December 7, 14, 21, 22, 23, and 28.
The annual community Holidaze Festival in South St. Paul has Santa, holiday treats, a hat-and-mitten drive, carols, and the lighting of the city's Christmas tree. Thursday December 6.
Nostalgic holiday entertainment - driving with your family and a flask of hot chocolate admiring the holiday lights around your neighborhood. Or, try one of these neighborhoods and houses in the Twin Cities that are known for their holiday lights.
Several local colleges' present holiday concerts and services, usually in early December, and several are free to the public. Here's the list of Minnesota college holiday concerts.
The Minnesota Boychoir performs annual free holiday concerts. This year you can see their holiday show, Let is Shine, at Bethel University on December 17, and two performances at the Landmark Center in St. Paul on January 8. A freewill donation is requested.
Take a free tour of the Minnesota Governor's house, on Summit Avenue in St. Paul, see the Governor's holiday decorations and Christmas tree.This year is the 100th anniversary of the Governor's home, and thanks to donations from local designers, they promise that the decorations will be extra special this year.
The tours are held on four Thursdays between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., no reservations are needed, although photo ID is required.
Grand Avenue, St. Paul's largest shopping district, starts the holiday season with a day of entertainment and special events, carols, hot soup, Santa and his reindeer, free samples and specials at stores on Grand Avenue, and the Grand Avenue Christmas Tree Lighting in the evening.
The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory in Como Park offers a respite from the cold and snow with their annual Holiday Flower Show, featuring thousands of blooms. The flower show is open every day, including Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
The conservatory, and the whole of Como Park and Como Zoo, are free to visit, but your donations are welcomed.
A candy cane hunt, music, food, children's entertainment, Christmas tree lighting, evening holiday light viewing trolley rides make up Inver Grove Height's annual Holiday on Main Street celebration. All the events are free, but you'll need to get a ticket for the trolley rides in advance.