You know when Minneapolis is in the height of summer when the annual Aquatennial rolls around. The four-day festival (July 20-23), which has been around for more than 75 years, continues a refocus on the downtown Minneapolis riverfront and Loring Park with huge events like the Target Fireworks and Twin Cities Carifest. From new events like a downtown drag race (July 22 from 6-9 p.m. in the North Loop) to these tried-and-true traditions, there’s plenty to enjoy in Minneapolis during the Aquatennial.
Twin Cities River Rats
Bring a beach towel or lawn chair to the Mississippi’s west bank during the Aquatennial and you’ll be treated to one of the more unique sights the river sees each year. The Twin Cities River Rats are once again bringing their family-friendly water works show to the riverbanks, which will feature Gru and the Minions battling Vector to become the best super villain in the world. The rats entertain with their fast-paced antics and tricks, including human pyramids, swivel skiing and more.
Where: South of Broadway Bridge
When: July 21-22 at 6 and 8 p.m.
The CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade is set to bring illuminating floats, bands and displays to Hennepin Avenue. The Aquatennial flagship celebration event, Minnesota’s largest nighttime parade, will have WCCO-TV Saturday morning anchors Mike Augustyniak and Natalie Nyhus as grand marshals. Before the parade, Loring Park will be home to a family fun night with canoe rides with Wilderness Inquiry from 5:30-7 p.m. The Twin Cities Orthopedics Torchlight 5K will also take place before at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Hennepin Avenue from the Basilica of St. May to 5th Street
When: Wednesday, July 20 from 8:30-10:30 p.m.
The fireworks show to end all fireworks shows. Target Fireworks is one of the largest annual fireworks displays in the country, not to mention one of the city’s most popular events of the summer. If you’re looking for the best spots to see the show, try somewhere on West River Parkway between Gold Medal Park and the 3rd Avenue Bridge. You can also try to squeeze in on the Stone Arch Bridge or Hennepin Avenue Bridge.
Where: Downtown Minneapolis riverfront
When: Saturday, July 23 at 10 p.m.
The Taco Tour returns to Lake Street to take thousands of diners on a journey through the tacos of south Minneapolis. The tour starts at K-Mart and will move east to Taqueria La Hacienda, Taqueria Los Ocampo, A la Salsa, La Loma Tamales, Las Mojarras Restaurant, Taco Taxi, La Mexicana Supermercado, Cocina San Marcos and El Nuevo Rodeo. For early registrants there will even be free tacos, but for all diners there are special promotions and authentic Mexican flavors along the way. And the tour doesn’t end with just tacos. Harriet Brewing (3036 Minnehaha Ave.) is hosting a free after party from 6-11 p.m. after the tour.
Where: K-Mart, 10 W. Lake St.
When: Saturday, July 17 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: Free, registration required
The Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership, the East Exchange Club and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board are celebrating the Minneapolis riverfront the only way Minneapolitans know how — with food trucks, music and a little beer. The Riverfront Fest returns, this time for its fourth year, with an evening of outdoor entertainment. Food trucks from Stanley’s, El Taco Riendo, Betty Danger’s, Cookie Cart and more will be on hand to serve up waterfront fare, along with beer from Northeast Minneapolis. All the Islands and the Sweet Colleens will be performing and for the kids the Riverfront Fest will have a pop-up park, face painting and more.
Where: West River Rd. North & Broadway
When: Friday, July 29 from 5:30-9:30 p.m.
ArtCars + ArtBikes Parade
The annual ArtCar Parade has been bringing the most unique wheels on the road all to one place for more than 20 years. This year’s parade cruise will feature the Faery ArtCar, Dragon ArtCar, Lipstick ArtCar, TOY-oh-TAH ArtCar, House of Balls ArtCar, Orange Cat Bike and more. There will also be an after party at the House of Balls (1504 S. 7th St.) to watch Aquatennial fireworks.
Where: Lake Harriet, 4135 W. Lake Harriet Pkwy.
When: Saturday, July 23 at 6 p.m.
Lourdes NE Block Party
The oldest church in continuous use in Minneapolis is also home to a new celebration. The Third Annual Lourdes Northeast Block Party will bring locals and parishioners alike to the church for a neighborhood celebration of food, drink and music — not to mention fireworks.
Where: Our Lady of Lourdes, 1 Lourdes Pl.
When: Saturday, July 23 from 6-10 p.m.
Info: ourladyoflourdesmn.comUp and Down
Though U.S. Bank Stadium has risen in Downtown East, it’s the Metrodome that’s the focus of a new photography exhibit at the Mill City Museum. Photographer Mark Jensen documented the former stadium’s construction between 1980 and 1982, and then its demolition in 2014. The resulting photos detail three decades of Metrodome history, along with the rise of the east side of downtown. “Up and Down: The HHH Metrodome” will have a public reception with Jensen on July 26 at 7 p.m. The exhibit is located in the Mill Commons, which is free and open to the public during regular museum hours.
Where: Mill City Museum, 704 S. 2nd St.
When: July 26 through Nov. 6
Sister Cities Day
Who knew Minneapolis had 12 sisters? Minneapolis has sister cities on all corners of the globe, connections as far as Bosaso, Somalia; Ibaraki City, Japan; and Santiago, Chile. The city is celebrating over four decades of being a part of the Sister Cities program with an ice cream social and festival with entertainment from many of the sister cities. The afternoon features family-friendly activities and traditional dancing from places like Cuernavaca, Mexico; Tours, France; and Uppsala, Sweden.
Where: Nicollet Island Pavilion, 40 Power St.
When: Sunday, July 17 from 1-5 p.m.