Valentines Day – In the Mood for Romance?

Looking for fun ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your loved ones? Here are some ideas, ranging from the traditional – a lovely meal or dancing – to the unusual – snowshoeing or Victorian poetry, anyone?

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HDR – Sunken Garden Como Park Conservatory by Jucadima is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Enchanted Evening – A Valentine’s Dining Experience at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory

Though February 14th is sold out, they’ve added a seating on the 13th for this romantic candlelit dinner among the indoor gardens of St. Paul’s lush conservatory. String music, limited wine and beer, and animal ambassadors will enhance your experience, as will the opportunity to bask in the humidity and warmth in the midst of a dry St. Paul February.

February 13, 2017, 8:00 pm
$170 per couple, all-inclusive.
Register online.

If you want to make Valentine’s a full day experience, or enjoy the atmosphere of the conservatory and have dinner elsewhere, there are other events during the day, including the Winter Flower Show, and a chance to meet the conservatory’s gardeners at 1:00.

Como Park Zoo & Conservatory
1225 Estabrook Drive, Saint Paul, MN 55103
651-487-8201
Winter Hours:  10-4

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Sleigh Ride by Bill Burris is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Three Rivers Park District Valentine Programs

Looking for something a little unusual to do with your loved ones? Maybe something outdoors? The Three Rivers Park District offers events ranging from Candlelit Trails to a Victorian Valentine’s Dinner to a Valentine’s Snowshoe Hike to a Lovebirds’ Local Foods Dinner and Sleigh Rides. All their events but one (which is sold out) are happening the weekend before Valentine’s Day, so you could choose off Three River’s menu and do something on the day, if you want to make an extravaganza of the holiday this year.

Three River Parks District is in Hennepin County, so a little bit of a drive from the B&B, but well worth it. Check out the webpage for more information on individual events.

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Big Bay Ballroom – Salsa Spice
by Port of San Diego is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Valentine’s Day Dance

“Love is in the air, so join us for a special night of ballroom dancing with The Dancers Studio Family! Includes complimentary glass of champagne at the door, dessert and cash bar throughout the evening.

“FREE Beginning Salsa Class @ 7:00pm

“Both singles and couples welcome!”

$15 per person
Purchase tickets online.

Dancers Studio
415 Pascal St. North, St. Paul, MN 55104
651-641-0777
info@dancersstudio.com

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James J. Hill House, circa 1895, courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society

Victorian Poetry Slam

“Celebrate Valentine’s Day the old-fashioned way by enjoying classic 19th century poetry in the James J. Hill House drawing room. Actors Craig Johnson, Laura Salveson and Ann Daly, wearing 1890s eveningwear, will perform a wide range of humorous and stirring poems by Dickinson, Poe, Longfellow, Browning and more dealing with love, romance, temperance, sports and war—even poems about James J. Hill! Audience members are also invited to bring a short Victorian poem to read aloud throughout the evening.”

Tue., Feb 14, 2017, 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
$12/$10 MNHS members

James J. Hill House
240 Summit Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55102
(7 blocks from the B&B.)
651-297-2555
hillhouse@mnhs.org

lgbt-lobby-day-2006OutFront justFair LGBT Lobby Day 2006 by Tony Webster is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Land of 10,000 Loves

“Historian Stewart Van Cleve blends oral history, archival narrative, newspaper accounts and fascinating illustrations to paint a remarkable picture of Minnesota’s queer history. Van Cleve will present from his book “Land of 10,000 Loves: A History of Queer Minnesota,” which explores the sacrifices, scandals and victories that have affected and continue to affect the lives of queer Minnesotans.

“Stewart Van Cleve is a former assistant curator of the Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies at the University of Minnesota.”

Tue., Feb 14, 2017, 10:30 am – 11:30 am
$5/$3 MNHS members

Minnesota History Center
345 W. Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55102
(1.1 miles from the B&B, and easily busable.)
651-259-3015
boxoffice@mnhs.org

However you decide to spend Valentine’s Day, have fun, be safe, and celebrate all the love in your life.

Welcome to our Holiday Home

One of the joys of a grand house like the B&B is decorating it for the holidays. It shows off even less-than-elegant ornaments to great effect. Our family has lived in this house since 1978, and we have decades of holidays to look back on and traditions to cherish.

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We’ve always put up a plethora of lights around the house; there’s nothing like fairy lights to cheer up winter evenings. In the past we’ve used a mix of of colored and white lights,  but have veered towards mostly white more recently. Another trend has been the introduction of poinsettias and, more recently, greenery.

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We’ve also made a habit of stringing lights in the houseplants. The blend of lights and foliage is not only beautiful, but a look that gracefully complements our Victorian home.

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Our one nod to more playful lights has traditionally been around the Inglenook mantel. We used to hang Santa lights, but have recently switched to poinsettias, which gleam beautifully on the rich woodwork.

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The last concentration of indoor lights is, of course, on the tree.

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Decades ago we cut down two 8 or 9 foot trees, one for the front hall and one for the parlor. However, with everyone grown up and moved away, we now purchase a more modest table-top tree that decorates the parlor beautifully, showcases a fine selection of ornaments, and allows plenty of room for our guests.

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Also in the parlor is our village, something Katy started collecting after most of the children had moved out of the house. Collecting ceramic houses with seven active children is just asking for trouble, after all.

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We added various buildings for about a decade, along with accessories, and the lit up display adds considerable charm.

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A much longer-standing ceramic display is the creche, cherished more for its sentimental value and family history, than for religious symbolism.

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This set was meticulously hand-painted by a great-aunt, and the children vied to set it up on the built-in buffet every year.

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Cradled by beautiful woodwork, illuminated by white lights, and reflected in mirrors, this sumptuous creche glows. It has also survived a rambunctious family fairly well, with some gluing necessary, but amazingly few lost parts.

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Last, but certainly not least, are the smaller decorations we’ve traditionally displayed throughout the house. From an example of the years when Katy and Bill decided they wanted ornaments from their children for Christmas,

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to the dolls hand-sewn by Katy, designed to mirror the family structure. (Eventually a set was given to each child to decorate their own homes.)

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From the light-up tree from Dayton’s that has adorned up the living room since the 1980s,

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to the Swedish-style Santa that I don’t know much about, except that it’s been around as long as I have and came from Katy’s side of the family.

One of the great benefits of running a B&B is getting to share our family home with others, and we’re happy to welcome you into some of the Gray holiday traditions.

 

 

 

Published in: on December 15, 2016 at 6:55 am  Leave a Comment  
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Celebrate the Holidays with Bells On

If you’re visiting us during the Holidays, here are some fun events that might tickle your fancy.

ole-lena

1. Ole and Lena’s Family Christmas

“Christmas and the holidays has always been Lena’s absolute favorite time of the year, even if, as Ole says “it makes her more than a little loopy.”

“As usual, Lena has invited her whole family, to include her snooty cousin Mildred who’s, in the past has been off on to many exotic vacations too to attend. Ole really wants nothing to do with the whole thing, especially the part when Lena dresses him dress up in the old ratty Santa suit to hand out presents. But, he may have hope if Sven can come up with a scheme to get him out of playing Santa? Will Lena be able to keep it all together while she prepares for the family Christmas? And will Sven come through with a plan? Find out in this hilarious holiday comedy about life, love, family and growing old together.”

Thu, Dec 15, 2016
2:00 PM

Burnsville Performing Arts Center
12600 Nicollet Avenue
Burnsville, MN 55337

Prices: $20.00  Reserved Seating

russian-christmas

2. St. Mary’s Orthodox Cathedral Choir – Russian Christmas Nativity Concert

“St. Mary’s Cathedral Choir will present a concert of hymns from the Orthodox Church’s Vigil and Divine Liturgy for Christmas. Hymns will be sung in Church Slavonic, the liturgical language of the Russian Orthodox Church, and in English. The concert will end with traditional hymns and carols from Eastern Slavic countries and regions.”

Sun, Dec 18, 2016
5:30-6:30 PM

The Museum of Russian Art
5500 Stevens Avenue S.
Minneapolis, MN 55419

$15 – Members
$20 – General Admission

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3. Holiday Follies with Le Cirque Rouge Cabaret & Burlesque Show!

“LCR celebrates its 14th annual Holiday Follies variety show, and continues a long tradition of irreverent, sexy, top-rated musical performances! Known for their vaudevillian comedy, and song and dance since 2003, features their critically acclaimed live jazz band, and world-class, triple-threat singers, dancers, and performance artists!”

Sat, Dec 17, 2016
7:00 PM doors open
8:00 PM show starts

Amsterdam Bar and Hall
6 West 6th Street (6th & Wabasha)
Saint Paul, MN 55102

$20 General Admission Advance
$25 General Admission Door
$65 Table for 2
$125 Table for 4

21 and over

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4. Holiday at the Dunsmore Lodge with Connie Evingson

“Jazz vocalist Connie Evingson is known for taking divergent musical paths. Her recorded catalog of acclaimed CD’s ranging from jazz and Broadway standards to the music of Peggy Lee, the Beatles, Django Reinhardt, Dave Frishberg, Norman Gimbel and more reflects an adventurous spirit that knows no boundaries. She has been a guest artist at Jazz at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis, Michael Feinstein and Vince Giordano, Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion, the Minnesota Orchestra and Toronto Symphony conducted by Doc Severinsen, the JazzMN Orchestra and Vocalessence, among others. Her ten CD’s on Minnehaha Music have all charted in the Top 50 in the U.S. and Canada and can be heard on radio stations around the world. All the Cats Join In, her third CD in the “jazz manouche” style popularized by Django Reinhardt, features John Jorgenson and his Quintet and was released in Oct., 2014.

“Whether singing bebop, bossa nova, big band swing or a ballad, Connie’s voice is readily identifiable – sure in pitch, a tad smoky in places, razor sharp in articulation and exhibiting an inherent sense of swing that’s dead-center in the pocket. Nominated as JazzWeek Vocalist of the Year in 2005 alongside Stacey Kent, Madeleine Peyroux, Tierney Sutton and Curtis Stigers, Connie has been featured on the Smithsonian’s Jazz Singers radio series, NPR’s Fresh Air and Weekend Edition, and is included on numerous compilations discs in the U.S., China and Japan. She is a two-time recipient of both the McKnight Fellowship for Performing Musicians and the Minnesota State Arts Board Artist’s Initiative Grant.”

Dec 28th & 29th, 2016
7:00 PM

Crooners Lounge and Supper Club
161 Highway 65 Northeast
Minneapolis, MN 55432
(763) 571-9020

Show:  $15.00 ($16.52 w/service fee)

Dinner & Show:  $40.00 ($42.39 w/service fee)

Choice of Side Salad & Entrée (Peppercorn Grilled Sirloin, Pan-Seared Chicken, Eggplant Parmesan) Upgrades: (Salmon or Pork Chop, $5; Walleye or NY Strip, $8; Crab Cakes, Ribeye or Tenderloin, $12.)

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5. Holiday’s Salsa Explosion “Extravaganza” 2016 (Twin Cities Salsa Asssocation)

“MUSIC Guest DJs
Sala~Bachata~Merengue~Cumbia~Timba~Cha Cha & More …

Best In the City … T…BALLROOM

* Nice Ballroom and Dance floor
* 6 hours of Dancing Music
* Dress to impress
* Free Parking”

Sat, Dec 17th, 2016
7 PM – 1 AM
Complimentary Dance Lesson 7:15 PM

DoubleTree by Hilton Minneapolis – Park Place
1500 Park Place Boulevard
Minneapolis, MN 55416

$10.00 in Advance
$15.00 At the Door

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6. New Year’s Eve 2017 w/ the TIM Sigler Band

“The NYE tradition lives on!! Celebrate the arrival of 2017 w/ the Tim Sigler Band on Saturday, December 31st in downtown St. Paul @ the Eagle Street Grille (Right across the street from the Xcel Energy Center.)

“Shows at the Eagle Street Grille generally sell out fast, especially when the MN Wild are in town, so we highly encourage you to reserve your spot online ASAP.

“Admission to this year’s NYE event includes complimentary domestic tap & rail drinks from 8-9PM, plus there will also be a complimentary champagne toast at Midnight to ring in the new year. Live music with the Tim Sigler Band will start at 9:30PM and go until 1:30AM.

A limited number of hotel rooms are also available across the street at the Holiday Inn if needed @ http://www.ihg.com/holidayinn/hotels/us/en/st-paul/mspal/hoteldetail

Sat, Dec 31, 2016
9:30 PM

Eagle Street Grille
174 7th St W
Saint Paul, MN 55102

$17.50 – $25.00

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7. The Brave New Workshop’s 2016 Holiday Revue: What the Elf?!

“Our blockbuster holiday shows are well known at the Brave New Workshop, and this year we have more material than ever to draw upon.

““The 2016 Holiday Show” will feature BNW cast members Lauren Anderson, Denzel Belin, Ryan Nelson, Taj Ruler and Tom Reed. The show will be directed by Caleb McEwen. Josie Just will be the music director, and Matthew Vichlach will provide technical direction.

“The Brave New Workshop has been crafting audacious, hilarious, and thought-provoking original comedy, improv and satire in Minneapolis since 1958 – longer than any other theatre in the U.S. Founded by the legendary Dudley Riggs, the Brave New Workshop is a truly unique place to laugh, learn, think, and play.”

Nov 11, 2016 – Jan 28, 2017

Brave New Workshop
824 Hennepin Avenue
Minneapolis, MN

$33 – $38 (with discounts for students, seniors, AAA members, and more)

Bringing a group? Planning a party? Family in Town? Awesome! Give the box office a call for a special offer just for you and your group: 612-332-6620

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8. New Year’s Eve 2016 at Psycho Suzi’s

“The best tropical vacation in Minneapolis that money can buy! Go island hopping at Psycho Suzi’s and say goodbye to 2016.

“This New Year’s Eve, purchase a Polynesian Passport, which is your ticket for tasty appetizers, four island cocktails of your choosing, music provided by DJ Shane Kramer of Transmission Music, unlimited photo booth usage and obligatory champagne toast while we ring in 2017.”

Sat, Dec 31 – Sun, Jan 1, 2017
8:00 PM – 1:00 AM

Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge
2519 Marshall St NE
Minneapolis, MN 55418
612-788-9069

Advance tickets:  $56.00 ($58.95 w/service fee)

Beer, Wine, Spirits
Hip Hop & Rap, Pop & Top 40

Minimum Age: 21
Kid Friendly: No
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!

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9. LaDanza New Years Eve Ballroom Gala

“Break out your dancing shoes and party attire and join us for a special evening. Dinner, ballroom dancing to live music with the Rod Cerar Orchestra, casino games & prizes, fun DIY photo zone. Come join us!

“Dinner options include Braised Short Ribs, Chicken Inwood, Thai Ginger Glazed Salmon and vegetarian option Butternut Tortellacia. Dessert is optional for a small additional fee. A cash bar will be available all evening.

“We feature live ballroom music including the Waltz, Tango, ChaCha, Foxtrot, Rumba, East & West Coast Swing, Mambo, Samba and Nightclub 2-step.

“For more information and a flyer email: ladanzastillwater@hotmail.com or call Mary Pat Cumming 651-248-0752. LaDanza is a non-profit registered 501(c)(7) social club.”

Sat, Dec 31, 2016 – Sun, Jan 1, 2017
6:00 PM – 12:30 AM

Envision Event Center
484 Inwood Ave N.
Saint Paul, MN 55128

$95/per person 12/02/16 – 12/17/16

Enjoy, and have fun!

 

 

 

Published in: on December 15, 2016 at 2:15 am  Leave a Comment  
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Our State Fair is a Great State Fair

If you’re visiting Cathedral Hill B&B through Sept. 5, Labor Day, and you like animals, rides, exhibitions, and great food, give the Minnesota State Fair a go. We’re pretty proud of it. We’ve got a few of the Fair’s main attractions highlighted below, but there’s a lot more to see and do in the Fair’s 320 acre spread. So bring your walking shoes, hat, sunscreen, and enthusiasm!

Along with the expected rides and games in the Midway & Kidway, there’s also plenty of other entertainment. The big name entertainers in the Grandstand require tickets, but there is also a multitude of free entertainment to enjoy throughout the Fair.

Midway night

Midway twilight

Food is another big State Fair draw. The list of new foods is eagerly awaited every year, and at least one of them is always on-a-stick. Offerings range from the all-you-can-drink-milk-for-$2 to classic pronto pups and mini donuts to fresh ice cream and baked goods to sit-down restaurant fare. Mmmm

As a largely agricultural state, the Minnesota State Fair is riddled with animals, farm equipment, and produce. Farmers from all over the state bring their animals in to compete for prizes in size, condition, conformation, and abilities. You can tour the barns and see the prize livestock, or watch the shows and competitions in the ring. You also don’t want to miss the Miracle of Birth Center.

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Animals Horses

Some of the agricultural exhibits are a little more unusual. The butter sculptures include portraits of State Fair Princess Kay of the Milky Way and her court, as well as other subjects. Watch a time lapse video of their creation, and see the completed statues and watch live carving in the Dairy Building.

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Crop Art is art made from seeds and other agricultural materials meticulously glued to a foundation to create detailed images. It’s quite a sight to see in the Agriculture Horticulture Building.

Seed Star Trek

Seed Starry Night

The State Fair also celebrates other Creative Activities, including needlework, canning and baking (which is look-don’t-taste, unfortunately), quilting, woodworking, stained glass, and other hand work. This may sound not-so-interesting, but the quality of work is amazing, and the types of displays are only limited by the maker’s imagination. Some of it is incredible, and, frankly, hard to believe. Find it all in the Creative Activities Building.

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Creative - Necklace

Creative - Baking

But it’s not all Crop Art and Creative Activities. There’s also an entire building dedicated to the juried Fine Arts competition, including drawing and painting, sculpture, textiles, and photography. Enjoy creative expressions from artists all over Minnesota. Many of the works displayed are for sale.

Fine Dolls

Fine ShipFine General

The Fair’s website is the place to go for more information about the Great Minnesota Get Together (and there is an app for that), including ticket information and park & ride. We’d recommend busing part or all of the way, as parking is challenging, to say the least. The Fair is two buses away from the B&B.

Have fun!

Published in: on August 30, 2016 at 8:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Fit for Your New Easter Bonnet

If you’re visiting the B&B over Easter, you might want to go out for a lovely, leisurely brunch. Here are some excellent options.

The St. Paul Hotel has two restaurants, and thus two Easter brunch offerings, one a bit posher than the other, but both equally delicious and with top-flight service.

Galaxy Easter eggs

St. Paul Grill

The first is the grande dame of Easter brunches upstairs in the St. Paul Grill, complete with live music and six lavish food stations – Salads, Seafood ice display for shrimp, Carvery, Entree and vegetable station, Breakfast station, and the Pastry chef’s grand dessert display.

10:00 am – 2:00 pm
St. Paul Hotel, 350 Market St, St. Paul, MN 55102
$45.00 per person • $19.00 per child, age 4-10 • children under 3, free. (Brunch is Pre-Paid.) Price includes service charge and tax, and two free hours of parking at Lawson ramp (between St. Peter Street and Wabasha on 5th Street).
Reservations: Online or at 651-228-3860

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M ST. Cafe

Downstairs in the M ST. Cafe is an elegant buffet with hot and cold sideboards overflowing with sumptuous offerings.

9:00 am – 3:00 pm
St. Paul Hotel, 350 Market St, St. Paul, MN 55102
$29.95 per person • $12.95 per child, age, 4-10 • children 3 and under, free. Includes up to two free hours of parking at Lawson Ramp (between St. Peter Street and Wabasha on 5th Street).
Make your reservation online or call 651-228-3855.

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Kincaids – St. Paul

Offering a special Easter brunch menu, Kincaids, located downtown, offers elegant dining and wonderful food.

11:00 am – 3:00 pm
380 St. Peter Street #125, St. Paul, MN 55102
Price range – $30-$60 (according to Yelp.com), includes validated parking for 2 hours in the Lawson Commons Ramp
Reservations: Online or call 651-602-9000

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Fabulous Ferns

They offer an expansive array of breakfast and lunch items to please all pallets, including a variety of traditional brunch items, both hot and cold, as well as special Easter items.

10:00 am – 3:00 pm
400 Selby Ave. St. Paul, MN 55102
Adults $17.95, Seniors $15.95, Children 12 and under $7.95
Reservations: 651.225.9414

Dyed Eggs

W. A. Frost

Featuring an extensive menu of eclectic, artisanal American cuisine served in a beautifully restored historic building, or on a beautiful patio (weather permitting).

10:30 am – 2:00 pm
374 Selby Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55102
Price range – $30-$60 (according to Yelp.com)
Reservations: Online or call 651-224-5715

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The Happy Gnome

The Happy Gnome’s upscale contemporary menu is made in-house daily to achieve the freshest quality possible, and is well-balanced to suit local Midwestern tastes and palates.

10:00 am – 2:00 pm
498 Selby Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55102
Price range – under $30 (according to Yelp.com)
Reservations: Online or call (651) 287-2018

Whichever amazing option you choose, or if you choose something else entirely, enjoy!

 

Published in: on March 17, 2016 at 5:49 am  Leave a Comment  
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St. Paul Joyfully Invites You to its St. Paddy’s Day Celebrations

While you’re visiting the B&B this week, help St. Paul celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. The city takes the wearin’ o’ the green seriously, and here are some ways you can wear your Irish proudly (even if you’re not Irish at all!).

The Parade

Parade

This year marks the 50th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade through downtown St. Paul. Held rain, snow, or shine on March 17th (unless it falls on a holy day or Sunday), it’s a wildly popular event, with lots of bands, dancers, community groups, and wearing of the green, but only a few vehicles for dignitaries. The parade culminates with the crowning of Ms. Shamrock, and is put on by the St. Patrick’s Association.

Thurs, March 17th at noon. (You’ll want to arrive early for good viewing.)
It runs down 5th Street, starting at Sibley Street and ending at Rice Park.

35th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Irish Celebration & Day of Irish Dance

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Join the Irish Music & Dance association for a two-day celebration featuring regional and local Irish entertainment on multiple stages, Irish dance, Celtic vendors, Irish cuisine, pipe bands, and (Thursday only) children’s crafts and entertainment. Check the website for an entertainment schedule.

Thurs, March 17th, 10-5, and Sun, March 20th, 11-5
At the Landmark Center on Rice Park
Tickets are $6 for adults, $4 for kids 5-12, and can be purchased at the door either day

Kickin’ It Irish

A thrilling showcase of Irish music and dance.

March 10-17, check website for showtimes under ‘Get Tickets.’
At the SteppingStone Theatre, 55 N. Victoria St., St. Paul, MN
$16 for adults, $12 for students and seniors

Annual St. Patrick’s Day Irish Ceili Dance with music by Barra  

If you’re eager to dance instead of watch, this is the event for you. This is traditional Irish folk dance, with a caller, and it’s a great family event. Beginners are welcome. Beverages and desserts available.

Thurs, March 17, 2016. Dance instruction begins at 7, with dancing from 7:30-10 pm
Czech-Slovak Protective Society (CSPS) Hall, on West 7th and Michigan Ave.
Tickets available at the door: Adults, $10; kids aged 15 and under, $5

Annual St. Patrick’s Day Irish Ceili Dance with music from the Twin Cities Ceili Band

Another opportunity to dance traditional Irish folk dances, with lessons and calling. ‘Kid favorite’ dances played in the first hour.

Thurs, March 17, 7-10 pm
The Celtic Junction, 836 n. Prior Ave., St. Paul, MN
$10, $5 for ages 12 and under and 60 and up, free for kids ages 5 and under

And if none of that strikes your fancy, check out the calendar at the Irish Music and Dance Association for more great ideas for celebrating the Irish in St. Paul.

Free Busing

Also, Metro Transit is offering free rides from 6 pm to 3 am, so be safe.

Have a great celebration!

Published in: on March 16, 2016 at 4:05 am  Leave a Comment  
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