Photo by Pat MalcolmMaking Spirits Bright Holiday Season at the Arboretum

Poinsettia Tree, Live Music, Visits with Santa & More!

'Tis the season for celebrating the serenity of winter beauty, the gifts of family and friends ... and childlike wonder.

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum presents "Making Spirits Bright," a season of live music, visits with Santa, a 20-ft. Poinsettia Tree and other holiday trees decorated in natural ornaments. Making Spirits Bright runs Nov. 28-Jan. 4. (Need another reason to visit?  The Arboretum offers free gate admission every Thursday, November through March.)  
Here are details of this special season:

Live Poinsettia Tree:  Feast your eyes on this holiday "tree" - comprised of hundreds of live white poinsettias with red accents - soaring to the ceiling timbers of the Oswald Visitor Center's Great Hall. Don't miss the glass-art tree-topper created by artist Craig Mitchell Smith!  Also in the Great Hall, visitors will enjoy several fresh-cut trees, all decorated with natural ornaments.

Holiday Live Music: To celebrate the season, talented local musical groups will perform traditional favorites and new tunes in the Oswald Visitor Center. All performances are free with gate admission.  Sponsored by Hultgren, Hoxie & Waki Orthodontics.

  • Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 6 & 7: Costumed carolers from Chaska Valley Family Theatre's "A Christmas Carol – the Musical." Noon-1 p.m. both days.
  • Saturday, Dec. 13: Minnetonka Chamber Choir, 11 -11:30 a.m. and noon-12:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 13: Annual 'Messiah' Sing-Along with the Minnetonka Association of Music, 2-4 p.m. (in MacMillan Auditorium).  All voices welcome!
  • Sunday, Dec. 14: Musicae Familiaris, family trio performing on violin, tin whistle, recorders, dulcimer and keyboard, 11 a.m.
  • Sunday, Dec. 14: OVation, an a capella ensemble of the One Volice Mixed Chorus, 1 & 2 p.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 20: Arbor Bells handbell ensemble, 11 a.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 20: Westside Strings, performance by local violin students, 1 p.m.
  • Sunday, Dec. 21:  Select Chamber Choir of Waconia High School, 1 p.m.

Excelsior Winter Farmer's Market:  Saturdays, Nov. 29 & Jan. 3, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., MacMillan Auditorium, Oswald Visitor Center. Shop a variety of local vendors selling everything from root vegetables, honey, cheese and bakery items to jewelry, alpaca knits and more when the beloved Excelsior Farmer's Market ventures indoors at the Arboretum.  Free with gate admission.

Santa at the ArbPhotos with Santa: Youngsters can visit with the Santa Claus and have photos taken on Saturdays, Dec. 6, 13 & 20, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Oswald Visitor Center). Take home a 4x6 picture for $5, or purchase additional keepsakes including magnets and ornaments. Digital images also available for purchase. No reservations, simply come when it suits your schedule! Photography provided by Little Saints Photography.
Sponsored by Hultgren, Hoxie & Waki Orthodontics 

Holiday StoryTimes: Storytimes in the Oswald Visitor Center.  Dec. 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28.  10 a.m.

Holiday Teas: Tuesdays and Saturdays, Dec. 2-23.  Time: 2:30-4 p.m. Snyder Building Tea Room. Share holiday joy at these festive teas. $26 member/ $29 non-member, plus tax.  612-301-7602 or  (Also: traditional tea on Nov. 12 and Jan. 14).


Holiday Sale Weekend: Three popular holiday sales take place Dec. 6-7 at the Arboretum (with the Auxiliary sale starting early on Dec. 5).  

  • Auxiliary Holiday Sale, Friday-Sunday, Dec. 5-7, in Snyder Bldg. Auditorium.  Shop for handmade treasures –holiday wreaths to textile arts & more. Proceeds benefit the Arboretum.  Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • 'Artistry of Nature' Art Sale. Dec. 6-7. Shop for handcrafted greeting cards, artwork, photography and more –created by members of the Arboretum Photographers Society and Arboretum adult art students.  Sat. 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Sun. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Visitor Center.
  • Minnesota Herb Society Winter Sale.  Dec. 6-7. Shop for handmade herbal gifts created by the MN Herb Society. Saturday, Dec. 6, 9 a.m. -3 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 7, 10 a.m-3 p.m. Visitor Center.
  • Plus, Members' Double Discount Days runs Nov. 28-Dec. 7 at the Arboretum Gift Store. (Members receive 20 percent off all regularly priced items.) Visitor Center.

Weekend Family Fun: Every Saturday & Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. (drop-in basis), Learning Center. December theme: "Wintergreen Mysteries." Learn all about evergreen trees! Free with gate.

Art at the Arboretum:  "Holiday Spirits," paintings festive and serene capture the mood of the season, Nov. 29-Jan.25, Reedy Gallery.  "Art of Miniatures," now through Dec. 31, Restaurant Gallery.

Sunday Supper: Enjoy classic comfort foods – served family style – at Sunday Supper in the Arboretum Restaurant. Offered Nov. 16, Dec. 21 and Jan. 18, from 4 to 6 p.m.  $17.99; children 8 & under eat free! Includes gate fee. No reservations required, large groups should call ahead at 612-301-7602.  And check out Bee Social (Happy) Hours: 2:30-4 p.m. Fridays & Saturdays!

Photo by Ashley FoxFloral Arranging Classes: Make a Thanksgiving Centerpiece class, Nov. 22, 9:30 a.m.-noon. Or Create a Holiday Wreath class, Dec. 6, 9:30-noon or 1:30-4 p.m. Learning Center. $89/$99 per class. or call 612-301-1210.

Arboretum Outdoors! with Hoigaard's:  Friday, Dec. 19, 11 a.m and 1 p.m.  Visitor Center. (Snowshoe event rescheduled due to lack of snow.) Learn Nordic walking techniques from Hoigaard's staff who will also provide equipment to try. Free with gate.

Hot Chocolate Walk: Saturday, Dec. 20, with naturalist Matt Schuth. 10 a.m.-noon. Matt Schuth, Arboretum naturalist, leads this walk through the winter wonderland of the Arboretum. $12 member/$25 non-member.  To register, visit or call 612-301-1210.

Ar-BRR-etum: Wednesday, Dec. 31. Free gate admission for skiers and snowshoers all day.  Snowshoes also are available for rental at the Visitor Center info desk.

Make the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum your holiday destination!  For more details on any of the above events, check the website at or call 952-443-1400.

Arboretum Gift Card

The perfect holiday gift for the person on your list who has most everything … Arboretum Gift Cards, in your choice of denominations starting from $10, $25, $50, $100 or more. Order online or by phone at 612-301-7619 and have gift cards shipped OR pick up at the Gift Store.  Arboretum Gift Cards can be used at the gift store, restaurant ... towards admission, memberships, children's and adult classes. Plus, they never expire and can be used all year-long.