Here are four fun vacation events you can plan right now


October 31 — The treats are ready and the Jack-O-Lanterns are sculpted.

It must be time to start thinking about Christmas.

After a pandemic year of driving events and cancellations, some of the big Twin Cities holiday events have announced their return for 2021. Here’s a look at what lies ahead.

Festival of Lights of the Cathedral

The Cathedral Festival of Lights, which enveloped St. Paul’s Cathedral in a sound and light show in mid-December 2020, will be back and expanded. Presented by the Cathedral Heritage Foundation, the event from December 15 to 19 will feature an indoor light show as well as an outdoor show. Music and visuals will again come from Luxmuralis, an English company known for its light shows that made its first trip to the United States last year in St. Paul. There is a fee for the immersive indoor show, “Starry Night”. The free outdoor presentation was a drive-by last year, but will be a walk-in event this year, viewed from Cathedral Hill Park. (There will be an evening drive on December 19.) An outdoor Christmas market is scheduled for December 16-18. For more information:

North Pole Express

Families can board a vacation train for a quick trip to the North Pole aboard the North Pole Express, which departs from St. Paul’s Union Depot the first two weekends in December. Passengers travel in vintage wagons and there are carols, treats, and a glimpse of the shops of Santa Claus and elves getting ready for Christmas. The North Pole Express is operated by fully volunteer Friends of Rail Group 261. Cars will be pulled by a Milwaukee Road # 261 steam locomotive on the first weekend and by a restored Milwaukee Road # 32A aero locomotive on the second weekend. end. For information and tickets (which usually sell out quickly):

Nature illuminated at the Minnesota Zoo

Nature Illuminated, which features dozens of larger-than-alive animals illuminating the night, is back for a second year at the Minnesota Zoo, starting December 2. Nature Illuminated is all about conservation. According to the zoo: “From breathtaking swimming skills to displays of Herculean strength, the narrated tour will highlight an incredible variety of finely tuned animal survival skills.” It’s a driving event, like in 2020, from December 2 to January 2. 2. Then, January 6-16, it becomes a walking experience, so visitors can get a closer look at the personalized animal artwork. Tickets are on sale now and all tickets must be purchased online and in advance at

GLOW at the fairgrounds

The GLOW Holiday Light Experience will return to the Minnesota State Fairgrounds this winter. But last year’s driving event is slated for 2021. GLOW premiered in 2020 with seasonal lights, stages and displays, and a 100-foot illuminated tree. GLOW promoters promise more sparkling lights and things to do, including Sky Glider rides and an Ice Palace. There will be a food court with State Fair favorites. GLOW will run from November 18 to January 2. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit Tickets will be sold for specific dates and times of entry.

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