Here are four fun holiday events you can plan for now

·3 min read

Oct. 31—Treats are at the ready and the Jack-O-Lanterns are carved.

Must be time to start thinking about Christmas.

After a pandemic year of drive-through events and cancellations, some of the big holiday events in the Twin Cities have announced their return for 2021. Here's a look at some of what's ahead.

Cathedral Festival of Lights

The Cathedral Festival of Lights, which wrapped the Cathedral of St. Paul with a sound and light show in mid-December 2020, will be back and expanded. Presented by the Cathedral Heritage Foundation, the event Dec. 15-19 will have an indoor light show as well as an outdoor show. The music and visuals will again come from Luxmuralis, an English company that is known for its light shows and made its first trip to the U.S. last year in St. Paul. There is a fee for the indoor, immersive show, "Starry Night." The free outdoor presentation was a drive-by last year, but will be a walk-up event this year, viewed from Cathedral Hill Park. (There will be one drive-by night on Dec. 19.) An outdoor Christmas market is planned Dec. 16-18. For more info:

North Pole Express

Families can hop on a holiday train for a quick trip to the North Pole on the North Pole Express, which departs from St. Paul's Union Depot the first two weekends in December. Passengers travel in vintage railcars and there's singing, treats and a look at Santa's shops and elves preparing for Christmas. The North Pole Express is operated by an all-volunteer staff of the Friends of the 261 train group. The cars will be pulled by a Milwaukee Road #261 steam locomotive the first weekend and by a restored Milwaukee Road #32A streamlined locomotive on the second weekend. For info and tickets (which usually sell out quickly):

Nature Illuminated at the Minnesota Zoo

Nature Illuminated, which features dozens of larger-than-live animals illuminating the night, is back for a second year at the Minnesota Zoo, opening Dec. 2. Nature Illuminated focuses on conservation. According to the Zoo: "From stunning swimming skills to displays of Herculean strength, the narrated tour will shed light on an incredible variety of finely-tuned animal survival skills." It's a drive-through event, as it was in 2020, from Dec. 2-Jan. 2. Then from Jan. 6-16, it becomes a walking experience, so visitors can get a closer look at the custom pieces of animal art. Tickets are on sale now and all tickets must be purchased online and in advance at

GLOW at the Fairgrounds

The holiday light experience GLOW will be back at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds this winter. But last year's drive-through event is walk-through for 2021. GLOW premiered in 2020 with lights, seasonal scenes and displays and a 100-foot lighted tree. GLOW promoters are promising more twinkling 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 Nov. 18 to Jan. 2. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to Tickets will be sold for specific dates and entry times.

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