By Kate Raddatz

EXCELSIOR, Minnesota (WCCO) — A first-of-its-kind holiday event is coming to the Twin Cities this year, called the Northern Express. It is a large holiday village full of displays, events, vendors, food, and drinks.

There may not be snow on the ground but a new immersive holiday event happening in Excelsior this year is meant to give families the feeling of being at the North Pole.

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Wynne Reece is the creative vision behind the Northern Express. She fondly remembers going to the eighth-floor Christmas display at Dayton’s as a child.

“I’ve actually had the idea for a pretty long time,” she said. “When that went away I missed the magic. There are so may wonderful events in the Twin Cities area but nothing that’s the same kind of immersive experience.”

Sprawled across five wooded acres, at the Northern Express, you’ll find Santa’s house, a Christmas tree forest, and other goods and experiences from more than 100 local vendors. And Santa knows if you’ve been good.

“There will be elves,” Reece said. “If they see somebody doing something, an act of kindness, they’ll ring a bell, bring them to a cabin and they can pick out a holiday gift.”

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Organizers wanted to offer indoor and outdoor options during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Come in, book a cozy sauna session, hang out in the cozy glamping tent, have a great time amidst the business that this season is,” Cedar & Stone’s Justin Juntunen said.

Santa’s elves have just a few more days to put the final touches on the village that has the magic of both the North Pole and Minnesota.

“This is meant to be a day experience for families. They can relax, kids can run around, it’s safe, just enjoy the outdoors but also enjoy the holiday season,” Reece said.

The Nothern Express in Excelsior opens on Friday. There will also be a Northern Express location opening in Moorhead. Click here for ticketing and date information.

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Kate Raddatz