Christmas is right around the corner, and Excelsior’s Christkindlsmarkt is sure to put you in the holiday mood.

Inspired by traditional German open-air Christmas markets, Christkindlsmarkt features a variety of foods and beverages, crafts and products from local vendors, and plenty of entertainment opportunities including visits from Father Christmas and Mrs. Christmas.

Alaskan reindeer and Christmas alpacas are among favorites returning in 2021.

Being able to pronounce the festival’s name is not required for attendance.

“Unless you’re really German, or have ancestors from Germany, it’s tough for most people to say,” joked Christkindlsmarkt organizer Myrle Mackenzie. “It comes out of people’s mouths in many different ways.”

The festival started in 2005 with a small set-up in Lyman Park, now the Excelsior Library. Initially, organizers were looking to bring a vibrant event to the downtown area that not only brought people into town to shop and explore the business, but also bring a positive experience for the residents of the city.

“It’s a special way to welcome the holiday, Christmas season. The children love visiting with Father Christmas, interacting with the Frozen princesses. There’s great food. Lots of music and caroling,” Mackenzie said.

The event moves to the Commons next to Lake Minnetonka this year, and will feature two weekends, Nov. 26-28 and Dec. 3-5, doubling the fun, and doubling the experience while managing crowd sizes.

Christkindlsmarkt attracts upwards of 30,000 people per weekend, which led organizers to sell tickets beginning this year.

“We wanted to ensure that it’s a great family fun experience, and that means keeping crowd sizes from getting too big,” Mackenzie said.

One-day tickets are $5 per person with children under age 12 free. Season passes, which allow one to attend more than once, are available for $10.

It is recommended tickets be purchased in advance online at https://tickets.excelsiorchristmas.com/excelsiorchristmas/2021. They also can be purchased the day of the event at the Christkindlsmarkt entrance.

The move to Excelsior Commons, located on the waters of Excelsior Bay, allows for the festival to be more spread out than previous years in a parking lot downtown.

“We loved that location, but outgrew it,” Mackenzie said.

Net proceeds from the 2021 Excelsior Christkindlsmarkt will go to support two important charities, His House Foundation and ICA Food Shelf.

NEW EVENTS FOR 2021

The 2020 Christkindlsmarkt went virtual due to COVID. All of the entertainment people come to expect was broadcast out as was a breakfast with Father Christmas.

“We ran like four different times. It was great. The children that participated really had a lot of fun,” Mackenzie said.

Being back in-person, though, in 2021, brings great joy to organizers.

“People are really excited. They want something that is near normal this Christmas season,” she said.

Father Christmas will be on-hand to visit with children, though those wish lists will have to be shared from a short distance. Mrs. Christmas and her fabulous balloon animals will also return.

Mackenzie said the new million-dollar stage in the Commons park will be the scene for musical acts that will include a 35-person choir and a caroling group from Minnetonka High Schools.

The children’s lantern parade will also take place in the Commons with a culmination at the pavilion for singing and a lighting of the Christmas tree.

Also new this year is a biergarten at Excelsior Brewing and a Kannonball Rally holiday car parade.

Christkindlsmarkt kicks off the day after Thanksgiving at 10 a.m. with the Grande Parade on Water Street. A Christmas string concert at the pavilion is set for 5 p.m.

Other first-weekend highlights include the River City Singers from noon to 2 p.m. and the children’s lantern parade at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 27, and music and storytelling from 4 to 7 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 28.

A Rockabilly Roy Orbison Christmas Show is among second-weekend highlights from 5 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4. A winter wonder magic show is set for 11 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 3, as well.

Events