Pride festivals pop up around Minnesota during the summer months, most notably Twin Cities Pride, one of the nation’s largest, with 400,000 attendees flocking to Loring Park every June. But there are plenty of other events that cater to the LGBTQ crowd year-round. Keep the colorful party going at these fun-filled events across the state.
Art in the Park, Lanesboro
This historic southern hamlet along the Root River is known for its B&Bs and bike trail, and it also boasts a great arts scene, especially for a town of only 732 residents. In June, peruse 90 artist booths from around the region at shaded Sylvan Park, scoring one-of-a-kind paintings, ceramics, blown glass sculptures and more. Throughout the year, you can check out the latest local creations at the Lanesboro Arts Juried Sales and Exhibition Galleries.
Blingo, Minneapolis & Duluth
Tired of being the youngest Bingo player in the room, Minneapolis resident Ellie Blades reinvented the game, injecting hip-hop beats and other Millennial pizzazz into the traditional format. Check it out (it’s free!) and compete for the coveted golden chalice at the Blue Door Pub Longfellow in Minneapolis on Mondays, Excelsior Brewing Co. on Tuesdays and Blacklist Artisan Ales in Duluth on Wednesdays.
Duluth Superior Film Festival
Over the course of five days the week after Memorial Day, venues throughout this Lake Superior port city showcase a bevy of short- and long-form films … all of them, amazingly, at no cost to the audience. In addition to flicks shown at places such as the Zeitgeist Arts Building, Clyde Iron Works and Blacklist Artisan Ales, you can also catch film panel discussions and live music.
Flip Phone Drag Brunch, Minneapolis
Kick off your Saturday with a fabulous dose of vitamin D (for drag!) on the rooftop of Union Restaurant in downtown Minneapolis. Performers go all out during themed brunches, which have included “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Game of Thrones” and “Harry Potter,” to name a few. The eats are delightful, too (we love the huevos rancheros with smoked chipotle salsa).
Great River Shakespeare Festival, Winona
Summers belong to The Bard in Minnesota’s “Island City,” nestled between the bluffs on a Mississippi River sandbar. For six weeks every summer, catch fresh takes on classics like “Cymbeline” and “Macbeth,” plus non-Shakespearian plays, all at Winona State University. Arrive 30 minutes before curtain for pre-show conversations, and attend during preview week for “Pay-What-You-Will” tickets.
Judy Garland & Wizard of Oz Festivals, Grand Rapids
There’s no place like Judy Garland’s hometown in June, when locals and fanatics of the 1939 film join to celebrate the legend. This year's festivities will take place on two separate weekends. June 20-22, the Judy Garland Festival will include a jazz concert, a talk with "Wizard of Oz" historian John Fricke, and a multimedia program at the nearby Reif Performing Arts Center.
If you're traveling with kids, opt for the June 8 Wizard of Oz Festival, where they can make their own wands like Glenda's and get their faces painted like a flying monkey.
One Voice Mixed Chorus, St. Paul
Minnesota’s LGBT and straight allies community chorus creates social change by raising their voices in song. The group performs in a variety of venues year-round, ranging from the grand Ordway Concert Hall in downtown St. Paul to area parks, as well as other parts of Minnesota on outreach tours. Catch them along with the Gay Men’s Chorus and three other groups at the Queer Music Consortium Pride Concert in St. Paul’s Como Park in June.
Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus, Minneapolis
Living up to its slogan of “entertainment worth coming out for,” this ensemble has moved audiences with tight harmonies and poignant works during its 38-year history. But it’s not all serious: Snag a ticket to their “Stiletto Squares – The Divas Edition!” show June 14–15 at Ted Mann Concert Hall in Minneapolis. This venue also hosts the ensemble’s annual spirit-lifting holiday show in December.
Jess is a Winona-area-raised travel writer who now lives in the Twin Cities. After going to school and working in that state just south of us, he decided to come home and explore the ever-growing cultural and culinary scene in Minnesota. Find him on Instagram at @jhoffert.
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