The holiday season is in full swing and it seems like there are always new events and attractions to explore, new food to try and new traditions to discover. So this year, instead of generating my own list of favorites, I asked readers like you.
Here are some holiday favorites in North Dakota and Minnesota that come straight from the monthly #PrairiePlaces Twitter Chat. If you have anything you’d like to add, feel free to chime in through a comment below!
What are your favorite holiday events and attractions?
Tracie Bettenhausen, who writes for Basinelectric.wordpress.com and is on Twitter @TracieLee, is a big fan of holiday lights. And she has a specific neighborhood in mind. “Lights on Northview Lane in Bismarck! Super magical when you drive down the hill.”
A neighborhood view in north Fargo
Sarah Feist (a.k.a @feistyeats) a blogger who writes about food, fitness and life at feistyeats.wordpress.com, totally upped the holiday lights game with this suggestion: “Last year we chartered a small airplane in Bismarck to see lights from above,” she says. “Awesome experience.”
Mind. Blown. I have seriously never even considered this. If you want to book your own super snazzy VIP tour of Bismarck/Mandan, Executive Air offers night and daytime tours.
The Holiday Lights Parade moves through Moorhead.
The Fargo-Moorhead participants agreed that Fargo’s Holiday Lights Parade is best bet. You can catch it the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. And there was a lot of curiosity about the Holiday Lights in Lindenwood Park.
It’s a fundraiser for FM Sertoma Club, so there’s a fee of $5 per vehicle and $10 for buses and limos. The display is open from 5:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. now through the end of the year.
“For food, crafts, experience and more it’s tough to beat the Dickens Village Festival in Garrison,” says @FeistyEats. I’ve always wanted to go to check out this event.
The citizens of Garrison create a whole Charles Dickens-themed world, complete with period costumes. Sadly, the event is over for 2015, but next year you can wander the streets eating giant turkey legs, take high tea or tour the city from a double decker bus. There’s shopping, an annual play based on a Dickens story and even a fruitcake throwing contest. (That last one actually made a recent Budget Travel list.)
One day my friends — one day.
A display inside Kittsona in Fargo
Where do you shop for local gifts?
Gift cards to local businesses are a popular option. Lots of Bismarck-based businesses got a little of holiday love, including Laughing Sun Brewing Co., Fireflour Pizza and women’s clothing and accessories boutique Lot 2029. (There’s also a location in Fargo.)
And @Katey911 mentioned a great one-stop holiday shopping spot. “Pride of Dakota Showcase! It’s a tradition every year.” The holiday events are done for the 2015 season, but you can still shop for North Dakota made products through the vendors’ websites and in participating stores. If you check out the link, you’ll find everything you need to know.
If you want more local gifts ideas (shameless plug alert!) check out The Local Christmas List. You’ll find cool local, handmade items from businesses, artists and craftspeople from all over North Dakota and Minnesota.
Where do you go to get in the holiday mood?
Chelsea Fetch, who’s on Twitter as @DoYouEvenPaleo and online at doyouevenpaleo.net, says, “I love coffee shops when Christmas music is playing and it’s snowing outside.”
I love that. I think the coffee shop that does holiday atmosphere best is 20 Below Coffee Co. in downtown Fargo. It’s so cozy, everybody is friendly and the decorations and holiday music feel genuinely festive instead of forced.
What’s your favorite coffee shop this season?
“I just remembered another holiday-mood-inducer,” says @TracieLee. “The sledding hill. We go to one by Bismarck State.” This got us talking about being outside in the snow and Fargo’s upcoming North of Normal Frostival on January 29-31. It sounds pretty fantastic.
There’ll be horse drawn carriage rides, a hot cocoa contest, food, bonfires, snow murals and kids games and activities. There will also be lots of outdoor athletic activities, including an almost 3K run/walk, a winter bike ride and cardboard sled races.
“That snow kickball tournament though 😍❄️,” sighs Moorhead resident and social media queen @NaomiOrre. Maybe we should get a team together!
If you’re in or near the Twin Cities, the crew over at @VisitRoseville suggests that you get outside and skate the OVAL in Roseville, Minnesota. It looks like a lot of fun and it’s a great way to be active during the winter.
What holiday food best represents your city or state?
Ooh, this is where things really got going. It turns out that Prairie Style File readers are passionate about many things — and food is pretty much at the top of that list.
Lots of people in Minnesota and North Dakota can trace their roots back to Norwegian or German ancestors. And holiday foods from both traditions were sentimental favorites.
“LEFSE for the win!!! *hiccup* 😘”, says @NaomiOrre, echoing a popular sentiment. The Norwegian potato flatbread, typically served with butter or butter and sugar (the only way to go!) is a staple on many holiday tables, especially in western Minnesota and eastern North Dakota, which were popular destinations for Norwegian settlers a few generations ago.
Super sugary, crumbly rosette cookies got a few votes as well. I love them (I’m a good Norwegian-American girl, after all) but I seriously cannot eat them without getting sugar and cookie pieces all over myself. It’s a problem.
But it was actually foods from the German kitchen (specifically Germans from Russia) that got the most buzz in this Twitter Chat. “Maybe kuchen?,” muses @TracieLee. “We never had lefse (we’re German-Russian) but we always have kuchen.”
“I’m German-Russian too, and kuchen was always around,” says @DoYouEvenPaleo. “But not just during holidays!”
@Feistyeats had a few more to add to the list — “Swedish meatballs, sausage on a stick, smoked turkey leg, fleischkuekle and spiked hot chocolate” — and they all sound pretty fabulous. I might have to do a little “research” at her house next Christmas…
And last, but certainly not least, we talked about two Midwestern holiday classics I totally forgot about until this chat.
“It may not say ND, but my mother-in-law always makes a Jello cake for Christmas in red and green,” says @Katey911. “I never had it until her!” I read this and laughed. Yep, I’ve definitely had that at family gatherings too.
“Is chocolate pudding pie a thing everywhere?” asked @TracieLee. “That is one of my family’s FAVORITES. We’ll fight.”
I’m with you, Tracie. Forget pumpkin and apple pie. I’m team chocolate pudding, all the way.
What do you think? What’s holiday food do you think best represents your state or city? How do you stay active during the winter? Where do you shop for local gifts?
Mark your calendar for the next #PrairiePlaces Twitter Chat on Monday, December 28 at 8 p.m. CST. We’ll be discussing how to beat cabin fever and stay active in the snow. Not on Twitter? Comment below or on social media!
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The #PrairiePeople, #PrairiePlaces project is sponsored in part by a grant from North Dakota Tourism. All opinions are my own.