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​Holiday events you’ll love: celebrating the season your way

Culture | November 20th, 2019

Cover design by Raul Gomez

The holiday season flies by, so start planning now, or it’ll be December 25 before you know it. The perfect holiday celebration is different for all of us, so here’s a look at some of the fun (and wildly varied) events we think you’d like this season.

Want to celebrate at a high-energy festival glowing with lights, a warm drink and heaps of holiday cheer? You’ll find plenty of ideas here. If you prefer something quieter – say, petting an alpaca, chilling with your pup or chatting with artists at an intimate holiday market – that’ll work too. What about taking to the streets in a Santa suit for a pub crawl, running a brisk 5K or trading the holiday madness for the serenity of a classic holiday ballet or Christmas concert? Check, check and check.

Just look for the kind of experience you want to have to find options that would be a good fit. Then put those dates on your calendar and get set to celebrate the season in style.

Kick off the holidays with a parade

HollyDazzle Festival of Lights

November 24

3 p.m.

Downtown Grand Forks

Grand Forks blasts into the season with s’mores, live music, sleigh rides, and a festive fireworks display right after the lighted parade.

Xcel Energy Holiday Lights Parade

November 26

6:30 p.m.

Downtown Fargo and downtown Moorhead

Kick-off the holidays with spectacularly lighted floats, musicians and prancing horses. Thousands line the parade route for the event.

Holiday Lights Parade

November 29

4 p.m.

Chahinkapa Park in Wahpeton

Enjoy free carousel rides at 4:00 p.m., the parade at 6:00 p.m., and Santa, hot drinks, music and holiday treats and fireworks after.

Christkindlmarkt Fargo 2018

Celebrate the season with a festival

Folkways Christkindlmarkt

November 21-24

5 p.m. weekdays, Noon weekends

Drekker Brewing Company in Fargo

This free event offers handmade gifts, holiday craft projects, live music, food, an outdoor winter wonderland and a cozy beer hall atmosphere.

Holiday Winterfest

November 26

4 p.m.

2nd Avenue North in Fargo

This free outdoor bash offers s’mores, cocoa, barrel train rides, live reindeer, mulled wine and food for purchase. The first 200 get a free

Santa Village

November 30-December 23


4 p.m. Thursday and Friday

1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Rheault Farm in Fargo

Meet Santa, Mrs. Claus and the reindeer, do holiday crafts and decorate cookies. No admission, but canned food, cash and toy donations are suggested.

Traditional Norsk Christmas

December 7

6 p.m.

Kringen Lodge 25 Sons of Norway in Fargo

Enjoy Norwegian food, dancing and music from The Front Fenders, Charlie Johnson and the Moving Parts. Tickets are $30 or $10 for the dance.

Christmas on the Prairie

December 7

10 a.m.

Bonanzaville in West Fargo

The historic pioneer village welcomes the season with horse drawn wagon rides, carolers, cookies and a visit from Santa. Tickets $6-$10.

Christmas bulbs

Shop ‘til you drop:

Pride of Dakota Fargo Holiday Showcase

November 22-24

4 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. Sunday

Scheels Arena

More than 120 vendors sell North Dakota-made products, including food, handmade gifts, home décor and fine art. Admission is free.

It’s a Wonderful Night

November 24

6 p.m.

West Acres in Fargo

Festive shopping features wine, beer, door prizes, Santa, entertainment, and exclusive deals. Tickets $5 for 6+. Proceeds benefit local charities.

Winter Market

December 6-7

4 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. Saturday

Red River Valley Fairgrounds

Shop for unique and handmade goods in a charming holiday environment curated by Eco Chic Home. $20 for both days, $5 Saturday only.

Holiday in Horace

December 14


Horace Senior Center

Stop by for beer, wine, holiday entertainment and a bonfire, then shop for décor, accessories, paper products, pottery and food.

Support local artists:

Holiday Art Markets at Aptitude

November 25-December 22

(Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays)

5 p.m. Thursday

1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

West Acres in Fargo

Shop for unique ceramics, décor, prints and books from more than 20 artists and writers in the new community art space next to Best Buy.

Art Crawl World Tour

December 12

4 p.m.

Columbia Mall in Grand Forks

Chat and shop with local artists as you sample a new wine at each art stop. Each monthly event focuses on a different region of the world.

Very Merry Holiday Craft Market

December 15


Drekker Brewing Company in Fargo

Christmas shopping with beer is a big holiday win. Unusual handmade treasures from dozens of local makers will impress everyone on your list.

Hear Christmas music:

Noon Holiday Concerts

December 2-19


Plains Art Museum


Stroll the art galleries and enjoy intimate, hour-long holiday concerts (for free!), while savoring a quick and flavorful lunch.

Lindsey Stirling Warmer in the Winter Christmas Tour

November 30

8 p.m.

Chester Fritz Auditorium at UND in Grand Forks

Award-winning electronic violinist Lindsey Stirling presents her poppy riff on holiday cheer with soaring melodies, dancing and driving energy.

Concordia Christmas Concerts

December 6-8

2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Memorial Auditorium at Concordia College in Moorhead

This Emmy® Award-winning choir combines 350 singers in four choral ensembles and a symphony orchestra. Tickets sell out, so book early.

Holiday Organ Concerts

December 10-12, 18-20


Fargo Theatre

The Red River Theatre Organ Society celebrates the season with free, all ages organ concerts. A non-perishable food donation is suggested.

See a classic live on stage:

A Charlie Brown Christmas

November 29

1:30 and 5 p.m.

Fargo Theatre

This live version of the Charles M. Schulz classic features all your favorite characters and the dreamy Vince Guaraldi score from the television special.

Elf the Musical

November 29-30, December 4-7 and 11-14

2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Empire Arts Center in Grand Forks

A musical version of Buddy the Elf’s attempt to win over his family and save Christmas comes to the stage in Grand Forks.

FM Ballet’s Classic Nutcracker

December 20-22

2 and 7 p.m.

NDSU Festival Concert Hall in Fargo

The FM Ballet dancers, Wonderland Orchestra and FM Youth Choir bring the holiday classic alive with guest artists from Florida and Minneapolis.

Norwegian Christmas Smorgesbord at Sons of Norway

Celebrate on a holiday pub crawl:

Santa Con For Charity

December 7

1 p.m.

Downtown Fargo

Give back by donning a zany holiday outfit, winning door prizes and supporting Gladys Ray Shelter and Veterans Drop In Center.

The 12 Bars of Christmas

December 7


Downtown Fargo

Wear your Santa suits, score a Santa stadium cup for your drinks, your first beer free and special deals with your ($12-$20) ticket. 21+

Ugly Christmas Sweater Pub Crawl

December 7

2 p.m.

Downtown Grand Forks

Pick up a pub crawl card at participating locations and turn them in for prizes. The ugliest sweater wins a special prize! Must be 21.

Chill with cute animals:

Unglued and Hotdog! Pet Salon Doggie Date Night

December 1

5 p.m.

Drekker Brewing Company in Fargo

Bring your leashed pup for a pet photo booth, purchase doggie gifts and do a holiday bandana craft project. Free will donations benefit 4 Luv of Dog Rescue.

400 Block Petting Zoo

December 6

4 p.m.

Outdoors near Zandbroz in Fargo

Stop by the shops for treats and holiday deals, then pet the goats, sheep, alpacas, mini donkey, mini horse and baby cow from Rusty K Ranch.

Jaws, Paws and Lunch with Santa Claus

December 7 and 14

10:30 a.m.

Red River Zoo in Fargo

Meet Santa, ride the carousel for free, see the animals up close, and create cool Christmas crafts. Zoo members save $2 per ticket.

Take a holiday run:

Burn the Bird 5K and 10K

November 28

8:30 a.m

Fercho Family YMCA in Fargo

Celebrate Thanksgiving Day with a pre-meal 5K or 10K! All ages welcome, pre-registration is required, same-day registration is not available.

Jingle Bell Run

December 7

8:30 a.m.

Courts Plus in Fargo

Don holiday attire (ugly Christmas sweaters and jingle bells are encouraged) and rock a 5K or 1-mile run to benefit The Arthritis Foundation.

Downtown Santa Dash

December 20

6:15 p.m.

Downtown Fargo

The inaugural Christmas-themed 5K race is open to all ages. Registration includes a beanie and free beer or non-alcoholic drink.

[Editor’s note: Alicia Underlee Nelson is a freelance writer and photographer. She co-hosts a podcast called “Travel Tomorrow,” available at and wherever you find your podcasts. Her first book, titled “North Dakota Beer: A Heady History,” was published in 2017. Follow her adventures at]

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