The State Theatre stage in Minneapolis

Must-See Theater and Music in Minnesota This Winter

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State Theatre / Meet Minneapolis

Must-See Theater and Music in Minnesota This Winter

By Amy Rea

Minnesota has an incredibly strong performing arts community. Venues range from venerable institutions to community-oriented startups and summer stock theaters.

At just about any time of the year, culture vultures can find noteworthy performances, including touring Broadway shows, locally produced dramas, concerts from regional and international musicians, modern and traditional dance routines, and standup sets from rising and reputable comedians.

Here's an overview of essential live settings throughout the state, along with some key programming in the upcoming arts season.

The Amber Box at Guthrie Theater

The "Amber Box" at Guthrie Theatre  / Bonnie Fechter


The Guthrie Theater

A world-class theater that’s well-known across the country, the Guthrie is currently celebrating its 60th anniversary. It was originally part of the Walker Art Center complex but moved into its own building on the Mississippi River in 2006. Its dramatic Jean Nouvel design is worth visiting for its widescreen views of the river and Stone Arch Bridge, along with multiple theaters that allow the company latitude to stage a wide range of works, from classics to comedies to experimental theater. 

Coming Up:

  • A Christmas Carol (Nov. 11 - Dec. 30)

  • Art (Dec. 16 - Jan. 28)

  • Dial M for Murder (Jan. 20 - Feb. 25)

  • On Beckett (Feb. 17 - March 24)

Exterior of the Orpheum Theater in downtown Minneapolis

The grandiose Orpheum Theater in downtown Minneapolis was once owned by Bob Dylan

Hennepin Theatre Trust

The Trust is comprised of three historic venues: the OrpheumState, Pantages and Dudley Riggs theaters. Together, they showcase touring Broadway troupes, a wide range of musical acts, and side-splitting comedy shows.

Coming Up at the Orpheum Theatre:

  • Nutcracker! Magical Christmas Ballet (Nov. 30 - Dec. 2)
  • Mannheim Steamroller Christmas (Dec. 15)
  • Michael W. Smith Christmas (Dec. 16)
  • Mrs. Doubtfire (Dec. 19 - 24) 
  • Funny Girl (Jan. 16 - 21)
  • Mamma Mia! (Feb. 6 - 11) 
  • Clue: The Musical (Feb. 27 - March 3)

Coming Up at the State Theatre:

  • The Illusionists: Magic of the Holidays (Nov. 17 - 19)
  • Hip Hop Nutcracker (Nov. 24)
  • The New Standards Holiday Show (Dec. 1 - 2)
  • Loyce Houlton's Nutcracker Fantasy (Dec. 16 - 23) 
  • Brian Regan (Dec. 31) 
  • Baby Shark's Big Broadway Tour (Feb. 17 - 18) 
  • Intocable (Feb. 29)

Coming Up at the Pantages Theatre:

  • The Blenders Holiday Soul (Dec. 8 - 10)
  • Christopher Titus (Dec. 16)
  • Mary Chapin Carpenter & Shawn Colvin (Jan. 26)
  • Alan Cumming & Ari Shapiro in Och & Oy! (Feb. 4)
  • Ali Siddiq: I Got a Story to Tell (March 2) 

Coming up at Dudley Riggs Theatre:

  • All I Want for Christmas is You... to Elf Off. (Nov. 9 - Jan. 27)
Members of the Minnesota Orchestra playing

Minnesota Orchestra / Travis Anderson

Orchestra Hall

Orchestra Hall is home to the internationally renowned Minnesota Orchestra, which performs classical and contemporary pieces, often with such genre-jumping guest stars as Minneapolis’s own Dessa and the St. Cloud-based indie band Cloud Cult.

Coming Up:

  • Handel's Messiah (Dec. 8 - 9)
  • Merry and Bright (Dec. 10)
  • Frozen in Concert (Dec. 15 - 17) 
  • New Years Celebration with Thomas Sondergard and Stephen Hough (Dec. 31)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 in Concert (Jan. 25)
  • Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet with the Minnesota Orchestra (Feb. 9 - 10)
The Cowles Center

The Cowles Center

The Cowles Center

The Cowles Center focuses on dance in its myriad forms — everything from classical to international to modern.

Coming up:

  • Who Brought the Humbug? (Dec. 14 - 17)
  • The Conference of the Birds (Feb. 10 - 11)
Cyrus Northrop Memorial Auditorium at the University of Minnesota

Northrop at the University of Minnesota 


This beautiful, historic building on the University of Minnesota’s East Bank promotes all manner of live performances, from dance to comedy to music.

Coming Up:

  • Cirque du Soleil: 'Twas the Night Before (Nov. 24 - Dec. 3)
  • VocalEssence: Welcome Christmas (Dec. 9 - 10)
  • The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Show (Dec. 11) 
  • Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (Jan. 25) 
  • Les Grands Ballets Canadiens: Dancing Beethoven (Feb. 17 - 18)
  • Manual Cinema: Ada/Ava (Feb. 29)
Theatre in the Round, Minneapolis

Theatre in the Round  / Annie Wang, Courtesy of Meet Minneapolis

Theatre in the Round

Minneapolis’ longest-running theater has the unique attribute of having a stage in the middle of its main room surrounded by viewers. It is also one of the state’s oldest community theaters, with a season that’s split between classic and contemporary plays.

Coming Up:

  • The Secret of Chimney Manor (Nov. 17 - Dec. 17)
  • The Seagull (Jan. 12 - Feb. 4) 
  • Silent Sky (Feb. 23 - March 17)
A dance performance at the Ordway in St. Paul

A dance performance at the Ordway in St. Paul  / Ordway Center for the Performing Arts

St. Paul

The Ordway

St. Paul’s jewel of a performance space is beautifully located across from Rice Park and the St. Paul Hotel. It is home to the Minnesota Opera and hosts Broadway tours, concerts and dance performances. The third-quarter months are quieter for the theater as it pauses before beginning its robust late-fall season.

Coming Up:

  • Peter Pan (Dec. 6 - 31)
  • Bach's Brandenburg Concertos (Dec. 9)
  • Handel's Messiah (Dec. 16 - 17)
  • Christmas with Cantus: Three Tales of Christmas (Dec. 22)
  • Assad, Janacek and Smetana (Jan. 12 - 13)
  • Cassie Pilgrim Plays Strauss' Oboe Concerto (Jan. 26 - 28)
  • Express Concert: Haydn's Midday Symphony (Feb. 2) 
  • Alina Ibragimova Plays Beethoven's Violin Concerto (Feb. 9 - 10)
  • Haydn's Salomon Symphony: What Makes It Great? (Feb. 16 - 17)
  • Leanne Morgan (Feb. 24)
  • Cantus and Canadian Brass (Feb. 25)
Metropolitan Ballet presents Holiday Classic Nutcracker

Metropolitan Ballet presents Holiday Classic Nutcracker 


St. Paul’s historic gem near the MPR headquarters hosts a myriad of events each year.

Coming Up:

  • Holiday Classic Nutcracker (Dec. 9 - 10)
  • The Last Waltz ft. Big Pink (Jan. 27)
Duluth Entertainment Convention Center

Duluth Entertainment Convention Center 


Duluth Entertainment Convention Center

This beautiful convention center houses ballrooms and a concert hall that showcases the local symphony and touring Minnesota Ballet.

Coming Up:

  • Minnesota Ballet: The Nutcracker (Dec. 8 - 10)
  • Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Tour (Dec. 14)
  • Jerry Seinfeld (Dec. 15)
  • Stars on Ice (Dec. 16)
  • Jesus Christ Superstar (Feb. 8)
  • Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra: MW4 (Feb. 24)
The Mayo Civic Center in Rochester

Mayo Civic Center / Dean Riggott Photography


Mayo Civic Center

The home of the Rochester Civic Theatre Company has both performance and exhibit spaces within its 120,000-square-foot space, a major stop for touring musicians and live events in Southern Minnesota.

Coming Up:

  • Girl Named Tom: One More Christmas Tour (Dec. 1)
  • Sister's Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi's Gold (Dec. 21)
  • Mania: The ABBA Tribute (Dec. 28) 
  • Johnny Cash: The Official Concert Experience (Feb. 14)
Amy Rea

Amy Rea is the author of several Minnesota guidebooks and writes about Minnesota food for Heavy Table. She grew up in northern Minnesota and now makes her home in the Twin Cities.