The first weekend of June is what I consider the unofficial entry into summer. It’s almost like a rite of passage after enduring a snowy winter and spring storms, taking me from long sleeves to tank tops, rain boots to flip flops. It is also the weekend that some of the largest and longer-standing summer festivals in Minnesota occur, solidifying that summer is indeed here to stay for a few months. There’s plenty to do, from street festivals to quiet picnics on the lake.


(credit: ICF)

International Children’s Festival

Friday, June 4-Saturday, June 5 (Family Weekend)
10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, St. Paul, MN
Outdoor activities: Free
Indoor performances: $5

Performers from around the globe fill Ordway Center in downtown St. Paul during the International Children’s Festival to provide a world of culture, dance, puppetry and song. Each performance inside the Ordway is $5 during Family Weekend. Outside in the surrounding parks, adults and children alike can enjoy a horticultural and butterfly garden, sculpture park and watch performing artists entertain. I plan to check out St. Paul’s debut of Pianos on Parade, a music project that is placing 20 pianos throughout St. Paul this summer for people to play. A parade starts at 1 p.m. at Landmark Center, and MetroTransit will offer free rides to the festival.

(credit: Grand Old Day Facebook Page)

Grand Old Day

Sunday, June 5
7:45 a.m.-5 p.m.
Grand Avenue, St. Paul, MN
Free Admission

Advertised as the biggest one-day festival in the Midwest, Grand Old Day helps usher in summer with a run/walk/rollerblade race, parade, family activities, food vendors, an art fair and live music stages running the length of Grand Avenue. Visit the Grand Old Day website to print your free pass on Metro Transit buses and light rail to and from the festival. There is also a free shuttle running down Summit Avenue, between Cretin and Dale.

(credit: Edina Art Fair Facebook Page)

Edina Art Fair

Friday, June 3, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Saturday, June 4, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Sunday, June 5, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
50th and France, Edina, MN
Free Admission

Featuring 340 nationwide artists, the Edina Art Fair is the second largest art fair in Minnesota. Free admission, free shuttles from Southdale Mall and a kids art zone make this a great introduction to the Minnesota art fair season. New this year is Foot in the Fair, an exhibit of Edina Public School students’ artwork. And speaking of kids, bring them! There is face painting, bracelet making and sand art for the little ones.

(credit: Hamline Midway MySpace Page)

Hamline Midway Spring Festival

Saturday, June 4
12 p.m.-8 p.m.
900 N. Fairview Ave.
St. Paul, MN
Free Admission

The Hamline Midway spring Festival is the kind of event that makes you proud to be part of the Twin Cities community. Three years into the weekend festival scene, this free outdoor event celebrates the Hamline Midway neighborhood and surrounding areas with local art, music, food vendors and theater performances for all ages. Special children’s activities will include storytelling, mosaic art, kite making and a fish pond game.

(credit: Altered Esthetics)

Bike Art VI

Friday, June 3
7-10 p.m.
Altered Esthetics
1224 Quincy St. NE #4,
Minneapolis, MN
Opening Reception
Free Admission

Altered Esthetics’ 6th annual bike art show brings the biking and art community together to create an exhibit of bike-themed painting, sculpture, photography and more. Regularly voted as an A-list gallery on the art scene, Altered Esthetics offers an art project that is a terrific way to expose kids to the possibilities of creating something they probably use everyday in the summer with brushes, metals and wood.


(credit: Cirque du Soleil)

OVO by Cirque Du Soleil

Friday, June 3- Sunday, June 5
Mall of America (North Lot)
60 East Broadway
Bloomington, MN
Check website for times
Admission $31.50-$200+

Merging the ecosystem with everyday life, the audience converges with bugs, weeds and insects to hear, see and smell the quite beauty and chaos of life. On the set, a wall measures 60-feet wide by 20-feet tall, with built-in trampolines. Imagine the look on your child’s face when they see a human sized butterfly soar through the air!

(credit: Lynx Facebook Page)

Minnesota Lynx

Sunday, June 5
2:30 p.m.
Target Center
600 First Ave. N.
Minneapolis, MN
Admission: $10-$60

The Lynx Ladies are holding court at Target Center against the Los Angeles Sparks on Sunday afternoon, June 5. Take the family to cheer on former University of Minnesota rock star Lindsay Whalen as she helps lead her team to victory!

(credit: Lowertown First Fridays)

Lowertown First Fridays

Lowertown District
6-9 p.m.
Downtown St. Paul
4th Street, Wall Street, Prince Street, Broadway
Free Admission

The St. Paul Lowertown district launched Lowertown First Fridays on the first Friday of June one year ago, building on the popularity of Lowertown Spring and Fall Art Crawls. June 3 marks the one-year anniversary of the monthly event, and the artists will be celebrating. The Black Dog Café is planning a “Dancing on the Grave” party to feature all of the unearthed items found during light rail construction in downtown, including antique tools and human bones.

Lake Harriet Bandshell Concert Series

Lake Harriet
Monday-Saturday: 7:30 p.m.
Sunday: 2 p.m.
4135 West Lake Harriet Parkway
Minneapolis, MN
Free Admission

Just the two of you? One of my favorite summertime outings is packing a picnic, grabbing a blanket and heading to Lake Harriet for an evening under the stars. On Friday, June 3 enjoy the piano soul of Allison Scott. On Saturday, June 4 Matt Moberg will entertain with folk pop, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 5, catch the New Orleans jazz and blues of Davina and the Vagabonds.


Urban Dare

The Loon
Saturday, June 4
12 p.m.
500 North 1st Ave.
Minneapolis, MN

Ever watch “The Amazing Race” with your significant other and said, “We could do that.” Now you can. The Urban Dare, a one-day “Amazing Race,” teams of two have to solve 12 clues to find checkpoints and race to the finish. Walk, run, take the bus — it doesn’t matter how you get to your checkpoints. Typically done in two to four hours, teams cover five to seven miles of territory as they solve the clues.


Minneapolis Marathon and Half Marathon

The Depot Minneapolis
Sunday, June 5
7 a.m.
225 3rd Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN
Marathon: $119.99
Half Marathon: $74.99
Four-person relay: $54.99

A Boston qualifying race, Minneapolis marathon runners follow the Mississippi River to Fort Snelling State Park through the urban streets of downtown. New in 2011 is a marathon relay race, which can accommodate two, three or four runners per team. Following the race, Kieran’s Irish Pub, The Local and Cooper Irish Pub honor free beer coupons from participant’s race bibs.

(credit: Colleen Mcguire)

City Pages Beer Festival

Saturday, June 4
10th and Hennepin Avenue
Minneapolis, MN
5 p.m.-9 p.m.
Admission: $30 and valid I.D.

Hundreds of beers. Live music. $30. What’s not to love?

(credit: Northern

Northern Spark Festival

Saturday, June 4- Sunday, June 5
Zones will be located on the Minneapolis riverfront, downtown hotels, Walker Art Center, St. Paul riverfront and Lowertown St. Paul
Free Admission

The French term, “nuit blanche” translates to “white night” or “sleepless night” festival. The French tradition has spread around the world since 1997, and this year Minneapolis gets it’s first “nuit blanche,” coined as the Northern Spark Festival. The dusk to dawn event along the Mississippi and surrounding areas will take place the evening of June 4 (sunset 8:55 p.m.) until the morning of June 5, 2011 (sunrise is set for 5:28 a.m.). Northern Spark will focus on Minnesota-based art form diversity, including multi-story projections, music environments, floating works on barges, houseboats and paddleboats and headphone concerts among the urban glory of the Twin Cities. Definitely a date night to remember.

Colleen McGuire is a digital marketing communications professional and author of the blog, Travel Snapshots. When she is not touring the Twin Cities for interesting festivals and events, she is wandering the world with her camera and notebook.