The old Holidazzle – the sparkling, glowing parade of floats and people that made its way down Nicollet Mall each December for 22 years – is gone for good, replaced by a European-style market that in its first two years earned mixed reviews.
When it originally opened on Peavey Plaza in 2014 as Holidazzle Village and Holiday Market, Star Tribune columnist Jon Tevlin wondered in print, “Has Minneapolis’ Holidazzle become a Holifizzle?” Part of the problem, but only part, was the $6 entrance fee. In 2015, with Nicollet Mall under heavy construction, the market moved west to Loring Park, dropped the fee and added an ice-skating rink. Once more, reviews were so-so. Some people thought it was too spread out, without enough holiday lighting.
Will the third time be the charm? We’re crossing our fingers, because it would really be nice to have an all-ages, family-friendly event outdoors where Minnesotans can gather for hot cider, cold beer, street food, live performances, activities and (yay!) winter fireworks. And shopping, why not?
A partnership between the Minneapolis Downtown Council and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, this year’s Holidazzle (subtitled “A Little North Country … In The Heart Of The City”) starts Friday, Nov. 25, the day after Thanksgiving, once more in Loring Park. Opening night includes a ceremonial celebration at 6:30 p.m. with the Minnesota Chorale and a fireworks display. Holidazzle continues through Sunday, then resumes Thursdays-Sundays through Dec. 23. The hours are generous: 5-9 p.m. Thursdays, 5-10 p.m. Fridays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays.
In all, 17 chances to eat, drink, shop, schmooze, people-watch, ooh and aah. Not every night will have fireworks; these are the nights that will: Nov. 25 (this Friday), Dec. 3, 10 and 17 (all Saturdays), and closing night, Friday, Dec. 23.
Each day’s schedule is full of things to see, hear and do. Ten movie nights offer 10 different holiday and winter-themed movies, from “Miracle on 34th Street” to “Frozen.” On Fridays starting Dec. 2, you can take a free carriage ride through Loring Park. The skating rink is also free; bring your own skates or borrow a pair from the warming house. Got little ones? On weekend days (and this Friday), kids can visit with Santa. Check out the activities in the Kids Zone, like the hay bale maze and the Elves Building Station with wood blocks.
Daily entertainments range from the Minnesota Chorale on opening night to the Metropolitan Boys Choir, Minnesota Dance Collaborative, the American Swedish Institute Cloudberries (women’s choral ensemble), the University of Minnesota’s Drumline and DOOM Dance Crew, the pop-rock band Sawyer’s Dream, singing guitarist Chris Miller and “American Idol” contestant Dahlia Jones.
More than 15 food and beverage vendors including Breadsmith, Kramarczuk’s, Fulton Brewery, Sociable Cider Werks, Polish Bistro and Spyhouse Coffee will keep you fortified as you shop dozens of local vendors. Pick up a Holidazzle hat from Love Your Melon, beer gear from The Beer Dabbler, handmade jewelry from Lakestone Jewelry (made from Lake Superior rocks), Minnesota-shaped soap from Gray Duck or a scarf from Faribault Woolen Mill.
Also new this year: more dazzle. Commercial-style lighting, with twinkle lights and uplighting, has been added within the park, along with “three different elements” (that’s all we know) that came out of a Request for Creativity call last summer. And the 2016 Creative City Challenge winner “Wolf and Moose” will have more lights than it did on the Convention Center plaza.
It sounds like fun. But don’t get too used to the Loring Park location. Holidazzle will return to Nicollet Mall in 2017. The new mall might be the perfect place to establish another longstanding Minneapolis holiday tradition.
Marlon James is named Macalester writer-in-residence
Macalester College English professor Marlon James made literary history in 2015, when he became the first Jamaican to win the prestigious Man Booker Prize for fiction. His winning book, “A Brief History of Seven Killings,” is a fictional account of the attempted murder of Bob Marley. At the time, a lot of us thought – good thing Macalester gave him tenure before that happened, because a Man Booker winner is something any college or university would want to brag about.
A 2016 “MN Original” segment featured James flipping through records at Cheapo, biking down tree-lined St. Paul city streets, giving a reading at Magers & Quinn, doing some writing at Espresso Royale and looking pretty happy to be here. “The thing about Minnesota, in particular St. Paul, which I realized is that a lot of its pleasures kind of sneak up on you,” he said. In October, the New York Times gave us a tour of his loft in Minneapolis, in the former Sears Tower on Lake Street, where he’s made himself at home.
And now, just yesterday, James has been named Macalester’s first-ever writer-in-residence. His appointment begins Jan. 1. His new position allows Macalester to “showcase his work and support his creative process, while giving our students the opportunity to learn from one of the great writers of our time,” provost Karine Moe said in a statement. James will continue to teach two courses per year.
We’re glad you’re sticking around, Mr. James.
Tonight (Tuesday, Nov. 22) at the Southern: Laurie Van Wieren: “Temporary Action Theory.” One night only: a new solo performance by a dancer and choreographer with 40 years of performance history, a former dance programmer at the Southern and curator of the monthly showcase 9×22 Dance/Lab at the Bryant Lake Bowl. Mining Van Weiren’s personal dance history, the performance will be improvised with her collaborators, lighting designer Heidi Eckwall and visual/music designer Katelyn Farstad. 7 and 9:30 pm. FMI and tickets ($15, free to ARTshare members).
Tonight and Wednesday at the Ordway: The Hip Hop Nutcracker. “The Nutcracker” as you’ve never seen it before – unless you saw it last year, during its sold-out inaugural tour. Tchaikovsky meets hip hop choreography in a contemporary reimagining set in 1980s Brooklyn and emceed by Kurtis Blow. Show off your best moves in the lobby before the show and during intermission. 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($24-92). Here’s a peek.
Tonight and Wednesday at Crooners: Dave King Trio. It’s a good time for fans of drummer Dave King, who performs four times this week, starting tonight. (Remember the Walker’s “King for Two Days” in in 2010? This is kind of like that, only longer.) In Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, made and meant for listening, he’ll be joined by pianist Bill Carrothers (on the new Steinway) and bassist Billy Peterson. It’s a trio we’ve seen several times, but never the same way once. 7 p.m. both nights. FMI and tickets ($20/$55 dinner show).
Friday at the Minneapolis Institute of Art: Black Friday @ Mia. You can join the crazed throngs at the mall, or you can see the blockbuster “Martin Luther: Art and the Reformation” exhibition for free. With free coffee and treats in the lobby. And a 25% discount at the museum store. The lobby and exhibition will open this day at 6 a.m. FMI.
Friday and Saturday at Icehouse: 3rd Annual Dave King Take-Over. More Dave King! On Friday, it’s the Dave King Trucking Company, with Chris Speed on saxophone and clarinet, Chris Morrissey on bass, Brandon Wozniak on saxophone and Eric Fratzke on guitar. 10 p.m. doors, 11 p.m. show. FMI and tickets ($12 advance/$12 door). On Saturday: the return of the legendary Happy Apple, formed in Minneapolis in 1996 and arguably the sum of all jazz, and the precursor of everything. With Michael Lewis (of Bon Iver et al.) on tenor sax, Fratzke on bass. FMI and tickets ($12 advance/$12 door).
Saturday and Sunday at Northrop: 55th Annual Marching Band Indoor Concert. The Pride and Pageantry of Minnesota celebrates the 125th anniversary of the U of M band program. You know this will be totally, stupendously thrilling. 7 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. FMI and tickets ($20-$30; $15 day-of rush tickets for U of M students).
Monday at Intermedia Arts: Shá Cage: #SAYHERNAME. In our experience, whatever theater artist and activist Sha Cage does is worth seeing. Along with acting in plays at Penumbra, Ten Thousand Things, the Guthrie, Park Square, Mixed Blood and Frank Theater, she has been creating a frank and indelible personal statement in what’s being called her Identity Trilogy. It started in 2013 at Intermedia Arts with “The N Word”; returned in 2015 with “U/G/L/Y” (first at Intermedia Arts, then at the Guthrie’s Dowling Studio); and concludes with #SAYHERNAME (Intermedia Arts) on the topic of violence against women. With cellist Nioka Workman, vocalist Jayanthia Kyle and a cast of cabaret characters Directed by E.G. Bailey. 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($15 advance, $18 door).
Correction: An earlier version today’s Artscape suggested that the entire Minneapolis Institute of Art would be open at 6 a.m. on Friday. Only the lobby and the “Martin Luther: Art and the Reformation” exhibit will be open from 6-10 a.m.