20 things to do in the Twin Cities this December to close out the semester and celebrate winter break

Whether you need a break from cramming for finals or are looking for some holiday fun, keep these events in mind.

by Macy Harder

It’s hard to believe that the fall semester is already coming to a close. With the weight of finals on our shoulders, it can be hard to carve out the time to do something fun — but everyone deserves a break during this final stretch, and luckily, the Twin Cities have plenty of activities to go around.

Whether you need to step away from the books or you’re looking to fill free time during winter break, here are 20 events happening nearby to check out this December.

1. Caroline Polachek: The singer-songwriter best known for her debut album “Pang” is hitting the road for her “Heart is Unbreaking Tour.” She’ll be performing at First Avenue on Dec. 7 with special guest Oklou.

2. Falling Into Winter Fashion Show: Black Motivated Women will hold their annual fashion show on Dec. 5 in Coffman Memorial Union’s Great Hall. Come celebrate the work of talented designers and artists for a great cause — donations taken at the show will benefit Black Women Speak, an organization that creates space for Black women to “heal, find joy and move toward liberation” on their own terms.

3. “Vision Portraits” Screening: The Weisman Art Museum and Student Unions & Activities will hold a screening of “Vision Portraits,” a documentary about art and disability, on Dec. 8 in Coffman Theater. The 2020 film provides a glimpse into the worlds of three artists who lost their vision, focusing on the ways in which their creative processes have changed. The screening is free to all, and registration is encouraged.

4. Gigs: The Whole Music Club will host the Gigs event on Saturday, Dec. 11 to highlight student artists and bands. Keep an eye on their event page for more information and the lineup, and come out to see some of your fellow Gophers take the stage.

5. “Anastasia” at the Orpheum: The Broadway musical “Anastasia” will run at Minneapolis’ historic Orpheum Theatre for a limited time this month. From Dec. 7 to 19, the show will transport audiences to 1920s Paris, following a young woman’s pursuit to discover her past. Tickets for the show are available for purchase on the Orpheum’s website.

6. “The Art of Change” Exhibition at MIA: The Minneapolis Institute of Art’s newest exhibition, “The Art of Change,” will open Dec. 11. It will feature nearly 50 works from one of Japan’s most notable potters, Kamoda Shōji, highlighting how his process revolutionized the creation of ceramic pottery for other Japanese artists. The exhibition is free, and will be on display until April 17.

7. Jason Mraz and Toca Rivera: The Grammy-award winning singer and guitarist, Jason Mraz, is touring with his longtime collaborator, Toca Rivera. They will be performing at Northrop Auditorium on Dec. 11 alongside folk musician Gregory Page.

8. Yam Haus: The Minneapolis-based pop band has gathered a lot of attention since dropping their album “Stargazer” in 2018, and they’ve been accompanying Blue October on a tour across the U.S. for the last few months. But Yam Haus is returning home for their own headline show at the Palace Theatre on Dec. 17. Joined by special guests DNM and Keep for Cheap, this concert is a great way to get out and support local talent.

9. Holidazzle: One of Minneapolis’ most infamous holiday traditions is back. The Holidazzle will return in-person to Loring Park Dec. 17 to 19. The weekend’s festivities include fireworks, amusement rides, visits from Santa and a handful of food, drinks and other goods from local makers.

10. GLOW Holiday Festival: A new wintertime attraction opened this year at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. The GLOW Holiday Festival is a walk-through experience that features over one million lights, a three-story ice palace, Sky Glider rides, a State Fair food court and more. The festival is open now through Jan. 2, and tickets are available online.

11. Miracle at Lawless Distilling: Named Minneapolis’ original Christmas pop-up bar, Miracle at Lawless Distilling is back. This holiday-themed cocktail tasting experience will offer seasonal drinks and lots of festive decor to make for a great December night out. The pop-up will be open through Dec. 30, and reservations can be made here.

12. University Art Galleries: There’s lots of art on campus to check out this month. “Dreaming of Mythos” is a painting exhibition on display in the Coffman Art Gallery through Jan. 30. This collection combines classical, renaissance, baroque and modern imagery to express themes of identity, folklore, love and more. “Blue Psyche,” a series of paintings by Lelia Byron, is an artistic representation of her own dreams. This exhibit is on display through Dec. 10 at the St. Paul Student Center’s Larson Gallery.

13. Nutcracker Fantasy: This production by the Minnesota Dance Theatre is a classic Twin Cities holiday tradition, and it runs at the State Theatre Dec. 17 to 22. Whimsical choreography combines with an iconic orchestral score in this show, creating a fantastic dance production for all ages to enjoy.

14. Joyful Echoes: The Minnesota Orchestra will be holding their annual Joyful Echoes event Dec. 16 to 19. The Orchestra Hall will be filled with musical medleys and stories revolving around Minnesota’s holiday traditions, led by local artists PaviElle French and Kevin Kling.

15. Emo Night: If you’re a fan of My Chemical Romance, Avril Lavigne, Paramore and the like, this one’s for you. Amsterdam Bar & Hall is hosting Emo Night on Dec. 18, where you can grab a drink, watch drag performances and dance to the sounds of 2000s emo icons.

16. Cathedral Festival of Lights: The Cathedral of St. Paul’s exterior will come to life this month during their annual Festival of Lights. The extravagant outdoor light show will be joined this year by an immersive indoor show and holiday market, and the festival will take place Dec. 15 to 19.

17. Christmas Film Screenings: The Parkway Theater in Minneapolis will be screening old Christmas movies all month long. The lineup offers classics like “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Dec. 11 and “Christmas Vacation” on Dec. 23 Tickets are available for purchase online.

18. The Last 2021 Rave: The 7th St Entry will be buzzing with some of the Twin Cities’ most electric artists and DJs on Dec. 29. “The Last 2021 Rave” will feature performances from killusonline, Juniper Douglas, Riotgrrrldarko, 6RIPS, 101115hotel and University of Minnesota student Joely Kelzer, aka DJ Mojo Jojo. If you like to mosh, you definitely don’t want to miss this show.

19. New Year’s Eve Danceteria: If a full night of dancing sounds like the ideal way to ring in the new year, check out the Danceteria event happening at First Avenue. The iconic venue will celebrate over 50 years of music on the night of Dec. 31, with the help of their lineup of DJs. Grab your tickets now and kick off 2022 with a bang.

20. 90s VS 00s New Year’s Eve Party: Maybe Y2K pop is more your style for a night on the dance floor. In that case, check out the 90s VS 00s New Year’s Eve Party at Fine Line on Dec. 31. The 90s dance party band, You Oughta Know, and local 2000s hits extraordinaire, DJ FooLProoF, will take the stage for one nostalgic night. Come celebrate New Year’s Eve by reminiscing about some iconic past eras in music.