Ice skating in Rice Park is from Saturday November 24 2012- Sunday February 3 2013.
Minneapolis' Christmas lights are on Nicollet Avenue - the stationary ones in the stores that line the pedestrianized mall, and the Holidazzle parade of lights and music that marches down Nicollet Avenue. The parade is Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sundays between November 23 and December 13.
Grand Avenue, St. Paul's shopping district, is lined with restaurants, stores and boutiques, many of who have decorated storefronts, as well as the lights on Grand Avenue itself.
Grand Avenue welcomes shoppers all season long, but a fun day to go is during the annual Grand Avenue holiday event, Grand Meander, this year held on December 1. During the Grand Meander, participating stores have discounts, giveaways, and there's entertainment, music, carolers, at locations all along Grand Avenue, plus the Grand Avenue tree lighting ceremony.
The cute-as-a-button town of Taylor's Falls, about an hour north of the Twin Cities, holds a three day annual Lighting Festival on November 23, 24 and 25, with parades, reindeer, music, food and entertainment. Historic houses in the town get dressed up for the season and welcome visitors to experience the atmosphere of a Victorian Christmas, and the town's several independent stores and boutiques have events and sales.
After the Lighting Festival is over, the lights will stay up until Christmas, making Taylor's Falls a pleasant day trip from the Metro area.
Gerten's, in Inver Grove Heights, has Christmas entertainment for families during December. Visit with Santa and his reindeer on December weekends, and holiday plants, lighting and decor are for sale.
Summit Avenue is where some of the grandest Victorian homes in the Twin Cities were built, and homeowners along the avenue often decorate with classic Victorian style Christmas lights... and some go all-out tacky. The Governor's official home and Christmas Tree is at 1006 Summit Avenue, with a competing, equally large, Christmas tree directly opposite.
The Governor's Residence is open for free public tours on four Thursdays: November 27, and December 4, 11 and 18, between 11 a.m and 1 p.m., to see the Governor's home, and the holiday decorations inside the mansion.
The citizens of Inver Grove Heights seem to love the holidays a little more than average, and the suburb of Inver Grove Heights is a popular destination for driving about and looking out for lights. Either drive your own car around, or take a Holiday Light Trolley during the Holiday on Main Street event on Saturday December 15. The free trolley rides start at 6.30 p.m. after a day of festive entertainment in Inver Grove Heights. Tickets are required for the trolley rides - pick up a free ticket at Inver Grove Heights Parks and Recreation Office, Veterans Memorial Community Center or ACE Hardware.
On Thursday December 6, the city of South St. Paul holds the annual Holidaze Celebration, with music, carols, Santa, a mitten and hat drive, and the city's tree lighting ceremony at 6.45 p.m.
South St. Paul is another good place to drive around and check out holiday light displays on homes, like this one.
Not in the Twin Cities, but if you are heading north this Holiday season, stop by Bentleyville in Duluth. This free attraction recently moved from Nathan Bentley's home in Cloquet to the Bayfront Festival Park in Duluth, where there is much more room for the hundreds of thousands of lights, fire pits for roasting marshmallows, live music on the weekends, and Santa, and it's all free. Even the marshmallows. Bentleyville is open in the evenings from November 17 - December 26.