Celebrating the sesquicentennial at the Aquatennial

Minneapolis is turning 150, and this year’s Aquatennial festival will celebrate the city’s big birthday with some special events.

The activities will be integrated into larger events that take place around the city. The festival runs through July 27, and has more than 40 events lined up on its roster.  

On July 20, the Sand Castle Competition at Lake Calhoun is themed to commemorate Minneapolis landmarks. This year’s fireworks on West River Road Downtown will feature a “pyrotechnic tribute” commemorating 150 years of the city. Throughout the festival, the Hennepin History Museum will be open with exhibits that chronicle both the history of Minneapolis and the history of the Aquatennial.

Festivities kick off with the Plaza
Tennis Tournament at 1 Financial Plaza on 5th street and 2nd Avenue. The Festivities culminate with the annual fireworks show on the Mississippi River.

In the Southwest, there are many events nestled around Lake Calhoun for the duration of the festival. The largest event is the Beach Bash, hosted at Thomas Beach at Calhoun, and featuring a sand castle competition, blood drive, and a plethora of other activities. There is also the 10 Best Days of the Bakken Children’s Activities, which takes place on 35th Street & Zenith Avenue, Bowling at Memory Lanes in South Minneapolis, and the Summer Sounds Gala silent auction at Lake Calhoun.

Aquatennial programming hasn’t changed much. According to the Vice President of events and marketing Leah Wong, much of the programming echoes that of previous years. If anything has changed, there is a deeper focus on the partnership with the city. For example, there will be a special City Council meeting open to the public as part of the festivities.

Wong explained that there is also an attempt to give the festival a higher profile.

“With the Labor Neighborhood Block Party we have booked two national acts and one local, as opposed to one national and two local like we had last year,” Wong said.

All of Minneapolis’ sister cities are sending delegations. It will be the largest group of delegates from sister cities that Minneapolis has ever had.

For more information on the festival, including a full schedule of events, visit www.aquatennial.com or call 612-376-7669.