Organizers plan shorter, downtown-focused Minneapolis Aquatennial

Council Member Jacob Frey (Ward 3) spoke on the summer festival at a press conference Wednesday. Credit: Photo by Eric Best

Organizers of the annual Minneapolis Aquatennial announced Wednesday that this year’s iteration of the summertime festival will be shorter and focused within downtown Minneapolis.

The festival has been cut down to four days from last year’s 10-day, 75th anniversary iteration, said Leah Wong, the festival’s director. This summer’s Aquatennial will also take place exclusively in downtown Minneapolis from July 22-25. Organizers also unveiled new branding designed by Minneapolis-based Zeus Jones for the event with nods toward the Stone Arch Bridge and the Mississippi River. 

“As we head into the next 75 years we’re doing it with this refreshed, energized brand and with events focusing on downtown,” said Steve Cramer, Minneapolis Downtown Council president. “We’re also doing it in way that’s consistent with our vision for a more active, more continuously interesting downtown.”

Cramer said this year’s Aquatennial will be in line with the goal of the Downtown Council, the event’s producer, of creating more consistent downtown programming, emphasizing venues like Target Field Station and Peavey Plaza. 

Council Member Jacob Frey (Ward 3) said shifting the Aquatennial’s focus complements the redevelopment and growth in downtown Minneapolis, especially in neighborhoods along the Mississippi River. 

“This refresh of the logo and the Aquatennial in general coincides with a refresh of our entire central riverfront,” he said.

The festival will once again be bookended by the Center Point Energy Torchlight Parade on Hennepin Avenue that kicks off the Aquatennial on Wednesday, July 22 and fireworks from Target–one of the top five fireworks displays in the nation–on Saturday, July 25. A few new events include canoe rides in Loring Park (Wednesday, July 22), a “Rockin’ The Waves” Aqua Dance Party (Friday, July 24) and a kite festival (Saturday, July 25), among others. 

Organizers cut one of the festival’s most popular events, the “Beach Bash.” It consisted of sand castle competitions and milk carton races on Lake Calhoun. A full list of Aquatennial events is available at 

“Minneapolis has a lot to celebrate and I’m glad we have Aquatennial events that brings citizens of all walks of life together to enjoy the best of what our City has to offer,” Mayor Betsy Hodges said in a statement.