Top 10 holiday shows to see this weekend in the Twin Cities metro

An actor holds a cigarette and mask
Janelle Ranek in “Letters to Santa…UNMASKED"
Photo by Brenda Lucy

Once again, we offer a sampling of the multitude of Minnesota events available for the holiday thrill-seeker. Fans of performance, film and comedy are likely to find something here to suit their tastes.

Dec. 15: The Trylon Hallmark Holiday Special

The bijou Trylon Cinema’s ever-eccentric programming this year includes an evening dedicated to Hallmark, the American greeting card company that has also become a reliable producer of kitschy holiday films.

Although the film to be shown is currently a secret, it was lensed in Minnesota, and the evening will also include 16mm shorts, commercials and a Hallmark-themed bingo game. For tickets and showtimes at the Minneapolis theater visit

Dec. 17: Celtic Holiday Hooley at Celtic Junction

Two of the three dates for Celtic Junction’s holiday event in St. Paul are sold out, but tickets remain for their Saturday evening show.

Grow the Future of Public Media

MPR News is supported by Members. Gifts from individuals power everything you find here. Make a gift of any amount today to become a Member!

The Hooley — an Irish expression for a party — is essentially a variety show of comedy, music and dance featuring a who’s who of Celtic talent in the Twin Cities. Tickets and showtimes can be found at

Now through Dec. 17: Yule Scream at Nowhere Haunted House

Except for the annual retellings of “A Christmas Carol,” we’ve lost a tradition that the Victorians adored: telling ghost stories on Christmas Eve.

The Nowhere Haunted House in Inver Grove Heights has revived this tradition, after a fashion: They offer a Christmas-themed, 45-minute guided tour through the venue, revealing a series of disturbing holiday vignettes. Visit ​​ for details.

Two performers swing from the ceiling.
"Solstice" at Circus Juventus
Photo by Dan Norman

Now through Dec. 18: Solstice at Circus Juventas

St. Paul circus school Circus Juventas presents a holiday show that pairs the school’s dazzling physical feats with a fairy-tale sensibility. “Solstice” tells of Jack Frost, a kidnapping and the threat of eternal summer. For showtimes and tickets, visit

A group of eight performers in matching navy suits
Musical ensemble Cantus
Courtesy of Cantus

Now through Dec. 20: Christmas with Cantus: Into the Lights

For their annual holiday show, vocal ensemble Cantus takes inspiration from the English tradition of The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, an annual Christmas event at King's College, Cambridge.

The British version is based around Christmas carols, hymns and choir anthems, but Cantus has expanded their programming to include music with universal themes and broader seasonal appeal. Cantus will appear at the Meetinghouse Church in Edina on Thursday and the Ordway Center in St. Paul on Friday, but the show has a new venue each night, so visit for more details.

Now through Dec. 23: Letters to Santa…UNMASKED

For more than 15 years, performer Janelle Ranek, along with show cocreator Brenda Lucy, have brought to the stage the sort of show that has long been a signature of Minneapolis’ Bryant-Lake Bowl: A minimalist performance in which one person plays a variety of oddball characters.

In this instance, Ranek takes on somewhere in the vicinity of 10 holiday personas, including a neighborhood gossip, an overbearing gym teacher and an aging boozehound who doles out live advice to audience members. Visit for more information.

Now through Dec. 23: Georgiana & Kitty: Christmas at Pemberley

Playwrights Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon have made a seasonal tradition of exploring characters from Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.”

This third holiday play inspired by Austin tells of a troubled Christmas with Georgiana Darcy and Kitty Bennet, young sisters from the novels and now close friends. It plays at the Jungle Theater in Minneapolis through Dec. 23. Visit for showtimes and reservations.

Now through Dec. 24: Black Nativity

Poet Langston Hughes’ adaptation of the Nativity story, retold as what Hughes called a “Gospel Song-Play,” was first staged at Penumbra Theatre in 1990. It’s played annually since.

This adaptation is directed by Penumbra founder Lou Bellamy. Music for the show is provided by Sanford Moore with the Kingdom Life Church Choir and friends. Marciano Silva dos Santos choreographed the production. It’s playing at the Penumbra Theatre in St. Paul through Dec. 24. For information visit

Now through Dec. 30: The Happy Holiday Fun Time Variety Show Extravaganza

Revisit the holiday television specials of the 1960s and 1970s at Huge Theater with a cast of improv artists.

In an act of theatrical daring that Dean Martin would never have attempted, the entire special will be created on the spot, including holiday songs and commercials. It plays through Dec. 30 at Huge Theater in Minneapolis. For tickets and showtimes visit

Now through Dec. 30: Christmas is a Drag bus tour

Host and drag artist Luna Muse offers a memorable way to experience Twin Cities’ holiday customs: seated on a motor coach, enjoying a menu of seasonal cocktails. The tour starts from the Wabasha Street Caves in St. Paul, Fridays and some Saturdays through Dec. 30. For more information visit

This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment‘s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.