Thinking of getting out of town this holiday season? Bismarck, North Dakota may be the ideal destination.
This capital city is known for its many museums and cultural centers. It is home to the Dakota Zoo, the Former Governor’s Mansion and the art deco Dakota State Capitol Building. It has a great downtown area as well as open farmlands.
Bismarck’s small town meets metro vibe makes it the perfect city to spend a Christmas holiday vacation. Here are some things you can do when you visit.
Capital City Christmas Celebration
The Capital City Christmas Celebration is a new event but it’s fast becoming a city tradition. It includes three nights of festivities.
The first two activities occur in late November and include a Breakfast with Santa and a Tree Lighting Ceremony.
The Breakfast with Santa event brings families together to eat delicious breakfast items with Santa and Mrs. Claus. It occurs at the Bismarck Event Center. Activities include face painting, balloon artists and a bouncy house.
The Tree Lighting Ceremony occurs later that evening at Peace Park. This is a free event, and the Mayor, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be on hand for meet and greets. Guests can enjoy music and live entertainment.
After the event, guests are welcome to come to the Bismarck Event Center for a Christmas Mingle. Holiday treats and beverages will be served.
The third part of the Capital City Christmas Celebration is the Mayor’s New Year’s Eve Gala. Activities include a live auction with the mayor and a silent auction that takes place throughout the event. There is live music entertainment and a toast and fireworks at midnight.
The Big One Art & Craft Fair Christmas Shows
The Big One Art & Craft Fair hosts shows all over North Dakota with over 350 exhibitors showcasing their handmade items. The Bismarck Christmas show takes place in late November at the Bismarck Event Center. It’s a great opportunity to get some holiday shopping done. A wide variety of items are sold including food, jewelry, art, home décor and more.
Stories with Santa at the Dakota Zoo
The Dakota Zoo makes for a fun way to spend the day. During the holiday season, they have a Stories with Santa event. Children can stop by and chat with Santa totally free. However, there is a charge for photos.
Pride of Dakota Holiday Showcase
The Pride of Dakota Showcase presents another great opportunity to get some holiday shopping done. It features hundreds of local vendors selling everything from home décor to jewelry to pet supplies and more. The event occurs over the course of a weekend in early December and takes place at the Bismarck Event Center. Admission is free.
The Nutcracker by Northern Plains Dance
If you’re set on seeing the Nutcracker this year, the Northern Plains Dance company has got your back. The non-profit organization has been performing the ballet at various locations in the Bismarck area for over 20 years. Check out their web site to find out where they will be when you’re in town.
Shows at the Bismarck Event Center
By now, you’ve probably already figured out that the Bismarck Event Center is an entertainment hub for the city. Not only does the facility host terrific holiday markets, it also features holiday themed shows throughout the Christmas season.
In past years, they have shown family favorites like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer: The Musical and the Great Russian Nutcracker by the Moscow Ballet. Check listings to find out what will be showing during your visit.
The Governor’s Tree Lighting Ceremony
When visiting Bismarck, you won’t want to pass on the chance to check out the Capitol Building. Unlike so many other Capitol buildings that feature classic architecture, this one has a modern art deco feel. At 21 stories, it is the largest habitable building in the state.
It sits on a 160-acre campus with several other political buildings, campgrounds, monuments and walking trails.
If you are thinking of checking out the Capitol, the Governor’s Tree Lighting Ceremony is the great way to do it.
Hosted by the Governor and First Lady, the event takes place at the Capitol’s Memorial Hall. Guests can enjoy holiday readings, music and carols.
Each year has a theme. 2019’s theme was Bridges of Hope inspired by the First Lady’s platform of eliminating the stigma and shame associated with addiction and recovery. To further enforce the theme, the person chosen to light the tree was one who was impacted by addiction and recovery.
The tree is decorated with handmade ornaments submitted by Bismarck locals.
The Dickens Festival in Garrison
Garrison is a city located a little over an hour from Bismarck, but it will definitely be worth the trip to check out the Dickens Festival. The event attracts people from all over the country each year and kicks off the holiday season for Garrison, which is nicknamed the Christmas Capital of North Dakota.
Cars go down the street pulling Dickens themed floats and people dress up in Victorian outfits and walk through the streets and sing carols. Guests can also ride on the double decker Queen Elizabus to take in the sights and sounds.
Other festive activities include street vendors, a Dickens Quilt Show, English High Tea, a Fruitcake Toss, a Lighted Parade and Children’s Top Hat Decorating. All local business participate in the city wide event.
See the Christmas Lights
The Bismarck area is known for residents that dress up their yards big time for the holiday season. The homes near 17th and Porter are a must see.
Bismarck is a city full of Christmas spirit. The tips in this article will help you take advantage of all the city has to offer during this festive time of year. Which activities will you be checking out?