By Amy Rea

You’ve slept off the turkey, you’re not interested in battling crowds on Black Friday, but you have free time and possibly family and friends to entertain. What is there to do this weekend? Plenty. Here is just a sampling of events taking place around the state in the days after Thanksgiving.

The Minneapolis Institute of the Arts is celebrating Black Friday as well, opening at 6 a.m. and offering free admission to its current exhibit, Martin Luther: Art of the Reformation (free tickets are first come, first served, so go early), with treats and special deals for the earliest arrivers.

The Minnesota History Center offers a Thanksgiving Break version of its History HiJinx program. Enjoy family activities inspired by the current Gridiron Glory exhibit, then take a StoryWalk around the History Center based on the MNHS book North Woods Girl.

Ely has a ton of things going on, including Small Town Christmas, a day to take pride in shopping small and local, as well as a Festival of Trees, Holiday Fantasy Arts & Crafts Fair, and Pickle Ball.

Outside of Jordan, Sand Creek Adventures offers Zip-Line Wonderland, where visitors can take the zip-line tour and also enjoy Christmas lights and a holiday hayride.

There are a number of communities across the state that host parades of lights this Friday night, among them: The Night We Light, a parade and tree-lighting ceremony with a visit from Santa and sleigh rides; New Ulm has its Parade of Lights; and International Falls hosts the Twas the Lights Before Christmas Parade.

On Friday in Aitkin, there’s a different kind of parade: the annual World Famous Fish House Parade. This is your best—and likely only—opportunity to stand in one spot and see a huge contingent of decorated fish houses float by.

In Rochester, the historic Mayowood Mansion is decorated for the holidays and open for tours. This was the home of Dr. Charles Mayo, co-founder of the Mayo Clinic. Reservations required.

The annual Wells Fargo WinterSkate will be open this week at Rice Park in St. Paul. Bring your own skates, or rent them for $2 (free rental for Wells Fargo credit or check card holders).

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum kicks off its annual holiday extravaganza with Color Spirits Bright, a lavish display in the Great Hall and the nearby grounds, as well as the traditional (and gorgeous) poinsettia tree and coordinates with the new exhibit, Color Spirits Bright. The exhibit opens Friday, and the weekend features a number of special events and live music.

On Saturday, the Charles Lindbergh Home in Little Falls will host a Christmas on the Home Front. Costumed guides will give tours of the home and provide information about the famous family and what the holidays were like during WWI.

If you’re in Duluth, take a ride on the Christmas City Express. The brightly lit train will take you to the Duluth Depot for a reading of the new Christmas City Express story and a visit with Santa before returning to Fitgers for hot cocoa and a campfire. The Christmas City Express runs Friday-Sunday through 12/18.

While in Duluth, you can also visit the Bentleyville Tour of Lights, 20 acres of more than 4 million holiday lights.

What else is happening in our state? Be sure to check out the 10 p.m. Tuesday night WCCO newscasts, where you can learn more in the weekly segment, Finding Minnesota.

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