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Tuesday, December 23, 2014


Minneapolis made the decision that last year would be the final year for the annual Holidazzle Parade, which was started in 1992, the year that the Mall of America opened, as a way to keep holiday shoppers downtown.  The parade ran between two and four evenings a week in December, and was viewed annually by more than 300,000 people.

The city felt it was time to re-imagine the event, and to offer something new and fresh that would take in more of the downtown area.  That fresh event took the form of the new Holidazzle Village and Market.  Cities throughout the country offer Holiday Markets, and now Minneapolis has joined their ranks.  I had the opportunity to stop by the Holidazzle Village and Market over the weekend and have mixed opinions.  

The Market stage waiting for  the next performer.

First, where the Parade ran the length of Nicollet Mall, the Village is confined to a two-block area, which doesn’t seem to encompass a broader stretch of the downtown.  It is also split into two components – the Village, which is free, and the Market, which is not.  I’m not sure this split was very well advertized.

There seemed very little to do in the free area, which only came to life in the evening.  It contained a couple of repositioned Parade floats (one used as a photo opportunity and the other whose appearance was a mystery), a storyteller stage, a small ice rink that seemed to be new this week, and a pen of reindeer.

This beautiful star was used throughout the Market area.

There was an admittance fee to get into the market area where food and beverages were sold, along with a few vendor booths.  The admittance fee seemed odd.  Granted it was a one-time fee, and you were given a card that was good for free re-admittance for the duration of the Market, but you were still spending money in order to be able to spend more money.

The Market was designed to resemble Little German shops, and the food was very good.  The other vendors in the Market offered a variety of products, that seemed a bit hodge-podge and expensive, but still nice to see.

This maple syrup was amazing and came in several flavors.

On the whole, the event wasn’t great and not very family friendly.  Things seemed to be very spendy in the Market, and a family of 4 or 5 would easily drop over $100 on just sandwiches and beverages.  There also didn’t seem to be much for kids to do there.  Much of the entertainment, like the storyteller, was only offered in the evening – not real convenient for smaller children.  There was a carrousel in the market, but that didn’t appear to be very busy when I was there.

I found it humorous that the reindeer pen . . .

. . . Was located in front of Caribou Coffee.

On a positive note, I must keep in mind that this is its first year, and it will take a couple years for the Village to find its stride.  I think there is some excellent groundwork that has been laid here, and that can be built on and improved upon as it goes forward.  The Holidazzle Village and Market has the potential to be something pretty awesome, we’ll just need to sit back and see what city learns from this inaugural year.  The Event runs through tomorrow so you still have time to visit.

(Cynthia Markey contributed some photos to this post.)

***Does your city offer some form of a Holiday Market?

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