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Arts, Culture & Entertainment

From jazz to giant spoons, craft breweries to fringe festivals

We love our arts and entertainment. And there’s a lot to love. Whatever you like in terms of culture, you’ll find that it’s being painted, sculpted, sung, danced, played, recited, performed, eaten and gulped in Minnesota.

Minnesota has a rich and diverse cultural landscape. Our historical residents have each left their mark on our state – from the Dakota and Ojibwe who first settled here, to the European immigrants of the 19th century, and more recently to the Hmong and Somali who have moved here.

Never a dull moment

An old saying goes “only the boring get bored,” and it is safe to say that Minnesota’s people and places leave little room for boredom. Whether you live for the roar of an open-air stadium, the calm corridors of an art institute or the hum of a county fair, there are endless ways to fill your free time in our state.

Music, theater and visual arts

  • Renowned orchestras – including the Minnesota Orchestra and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra – and a rich theater scene with renowned venues such as Guthrie Theater and the Minneapolis Children’s Theater
  • Several world-class museums, including the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Walker Art Center and Sculpture Garden – with its iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture – and the Weisman Art Museum, among others
  • Multiple venues that host national and international entertainers, including First Avenue nightclub and Dakota Jazz Club

Eating and drinking

Minnesota has become a top destination for foodies and craft brewery aficionados.

  • Twelve Twin Cities chefs, bakers and restaurants were recently named 2018 semifinalists in the food world’s highest honors, the James Beard Foundation awards.
  • The Wall Street Journal named Minneapolis the No. 4 spot on its “Where to Travel in 2018” list of 10 “hot destinations” worldwide.
  • Craft breweries, like Surly, August Schell, Castle Danger and Summit have become popular destinations for locals. We have more than 110 craft breweries operating across the state.

Popular fairs, malls, fests and districts

  • “The Great Minnesota Get-Together,” the Minnesota State Fair, attracts nearly 2 million visitors a year – and is the largest state fair in the U.S. based on average daily attendance.
  • Mall of America – the largest shopping mall in the U.S. – in Bloomington, Minn., attracts 40 million visitors each year from around the globe.
  • Paisley Park – music legend Prince’s private domain for more than two decades – recently opened for tours.
  • Festivals and special events abound – including music festivals (such as the Twin Cities Jazz Festival); theater festivals (the Fringe Festival with more than 1,000 artists performing over a 10-day period); art crawls, beer dabblers and much more.
  • USA TODAY named Northeast Minneapolis the nation’s top arts district in 2015, citing the studios, galleries and performance spaces developed from repurposed industrial buildings.

Greater Minnesota and the arts

  • Outside of the Twin Cities, Greater Minnesota has buzzing music and arts scenes. People travel from around the nation to attend the Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona each summer, while St. Cloud, Duluth, Rochester and Moorhead all support their own independent city orchestras.
  • Popular annual music festivals – such as the country music WE Fest in Detroit Lakes, Minn., and the Bayfront Blues Festival in Duluth – draw crowds of thousands each year.
  • Lanesboro, Minnesota – named one of America’s 20 Best Small Towns several years ago by Smithsonian Magazine – has the Commonweal Theatre, which the magazine dubbed “one of the sharpest, most innovative small regional theaters in the country.”
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