Holiday markets are popping up all over. Six of our favorites are on this weekend. And still no snow!
No arts-and-culture organization for miles does Christmas like the American Swedish Institute. Its holiday season starts Nov. 11 and continues through Jan. 7. The holiday rooms in the Turnblad Mansion are lavishly decorated, and the calendar overflows with events, classes, parties, performances and feasts. This Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 2 and 3, it’s primo shopping at the annual Julmarknad, ASI’s Christmas market and largest holiday weekend, with more than 40 artists showing and selling handcrafted items, plus family activities, music and dance, festive food (mmm, Swedish meatballs) and a FIKA Bake Sale (mmm, cardamom bread). Museum admission gets you in. Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday 12 noon-5 p.m. FMI.
At Union Depot, a European Christmas Market is one of several events that will light up tonight, Friday, Dec. 1. From 4-9 p.m., some 20 vendors will offer their wares on the East Plaza; Santa will be there from 6-8 p.m. A Holiday Tree Lighting celebration begins in the Head House at 5:30 p.m. with a drum and dance performance by American Indian Youth Enrichment Drum Exhibition and holiday music by American Idol contestant Eric Gordon, followed by the actual tree lighting on the North Plaza at 7 p.m. and fireworks after. A free showing of “Elf” starts at 7:30 p.m. in the Waiting Room. The Christmas Market continues through this weekend and next. And the North Pole Holiday Express is at the Depot, which is a train station, after all.
The Midtown Global Market hosts the 13th annual Holiday No Coast Craft-O-Rama, a hip and lively, modern, urban show with more than 100 indie makers. Look for DC Ice and her emotionally layered animal paintings, drawn with razor blades; handmade knits from Nokomis Knitting Company (some made with needles, some with antique sock knitting machines from the early 1900s); functional ceramics by Adam Gruetzmacher, who has mastered the art of the gray glaze; Minnesota-themed steel bottle openers from 14 Gauge; and in-your-face cross-stitch from Third Daughter Restless Daughter. One-of-a-kind gifts with an edge. Here’s the list of this year’s vendors; everything is a hotlink. 3-8 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. Free. FMI on Facebook and Instagram.
The American Craft Council, the national, nonprofit champion of craft that relocated to Minneapolis from New York City in 2010, has partnered with the Minnesota Jewelry Arts Guild and A Conspiracy of Strange Girls to co-curate a market of more than 60 Minnesota artists and vendors at the Grain Belt Brew House. They call it the Holiday Craft Hop, and you can expect fine work and top quality from artists including shoemaker Amara Hark-Weber. Here’s the list of vendors. 12 noon-5 p.m. Saturday, 224 Marshall St. NE. Free.
This show has a humble name – Holiday Show in Northeast Minneapolis – and it’s tucked away in the Mid-City Industrial part of Minneapolis, in a room at Smith-Sharpe Fire Brick Supply on northeast Broadway. But if you’re looking for good work by good artists in a relaxed, casual environment, this is it. Debbie Cooter is a hand weaver; Dick Cooter, Jason Trebs and Cindy Browne are functional potters; Richard Stephens is a printer. Guests are Anita Gopalaswamy, with textiles from India, and Michael Kimball, with paintings. Wine and snacks. 4-9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. Free.
Now in its 23rd year, the Art at Ramsey Holiday Art Fair is always worth a visit. About 80 artists spread out through the gymnasiums and cafeteria of Ramsey Middle School in St. Paul with a variety of gifts to choose from: jewelry, clay, photographs, paintings, baskets, hats, drawings, turned wood, stained glass, Hmong handwork and more. One caveat: it can be hard to leave there without a little something for yourself. Be sure to check out Bob Carls’s turned wood; smooth-glazed pots with dogs, chickens and cats by Northfield artists Chris and Sue Holmquist; silver jewelry by Duke Klassen and LaDes Glanzer – and their very talented daughter, Brenna Klassen-Glanzer; and the tiny, perfectly made fabric animals by northern Minnesota’s Alice Strand. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Free.
Saturday at the Flanders Gallery: Opening reception for “Snow Show.” A reminder of winters past and a hint of what’s to come, no matter how weirdly balmy the weather has been. (Today really is Dec. 1.) This invitational group exhibition features work by Scott Lloyd Anderson, Mary Lingen, Todd Clercz and others who rose to the challenge of capturing the light of snowy landscapes and the mood – and magic – of snow. 6-9 p.m. Closes Jan. 6.
Sunday and Monday at the Dakota: Brad Mehldau Trio. One of the top jazz – make that top music – events of the season is the mini-residency (two nights, four shows) of pianist Mehldau and his trio of 12 years. Mehldau is a truly great improviser; he’ll start with a familiar tune – for example, Lennon-McCartney’s “And I Love Her,” a song on the trio’s latest album, “Blues and Ballads” – and instead of improvising on the melody, he’ll take it somewhere else entirely. You never know where he’s going, but every song tells a story. We’ve read that on the current tour, he’s playing all originals. 7 and 9 p.m. FMI and tickets ($25-40); 612-332-5299.
Monday at the U’s Elmer L. Andersen Library: “James Wright: A Life in Poetry.” Wright, who won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry, would have turned 90 on Dec. 13. This event celebrates his birthday and the publication of Jonathan Blunk’s new biography. Blunk will give a reading; Michael Dennis Browne will head a discussion with Charles Baxter and Patricia Hampl, and birthday cake will be served. 7 p.m. Free and open to the public. Reservations requested. Can’t come Monday? On Tuesday, Dec. 5, Blunk will present his book at Common Good at 7 p.m.
Monday at the Lundstrum Performing Arts Building: The American History of Race: “Slave Songs” Excerpt and Discussion. The complex relationships today between white and black Americans originated in slavery. Threads Dance Project’s SAGE Award-nominated work “The Secrets of Slave Songs” examines slavery, its abolition and consequences in the U.S. Watch excerpts, then take part in a discussion and Q&A with Threads dancers and artistic director Karen L. Charles. 6:30 p.m. Free and open to the public. RSVP online or by phone; 651-282-3115.
Tonight through Sunday at the O’Shaughnessy: St. Paul Ballet: “Clara’s Dream from The Nutcracker.” St. Paul Ballet is a professional dance company and arts school that recently drew attention for collaborating with a boxing gym. Starting with an original story by ETA Hoffman, “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” choreographer Zoé Emilie Henrot got rid of the nutcracker, made Clara the star, and set the action — waltzing flowers, a battle between toy soldiers and mice, the Sugar Plum Fairy — within Clara’s dream. And it’s all just 90 minutes long, a good length for kids and adults who would rather watch boxing. 7:30 p.m. Friday, 1 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. FMI and tickets ($20-35); 651-690-6700.
Starts tonight at the Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater: The Unscripted Minnesota Holiday. There’s a small town, there’s a festival, there’s a hero who saves it. The specifics are up to the audience. Watch a holiday story take shape before your eyes as the crack improvisers of Danger Boat Productions take your suggestions and create more than a play – an actual musical, with songs. Doors at 6 p.m., show at 7 p.m. FMI and tickets ($15/12). Also Saturday, Dec. 2, Monday, Dec. 4, and Friday, Dec. 8.
Sunday at St. Olaf Catholic Church: Minnesota Chorale: Messiah Sing Along. There’s nothing like raising your voice in a string of “Hallelujahs!” to put you in the holiday spirit. And even if you’re not the world’s greatest singer, the members of the Minnesota Chorale will make you sound good. Show up, join in or just listen to Handel’s masterpiece. 6:30 p.m. Music will be provided. No tickets or reservations needed. A free will offering will be taken.