Catch Santa’s elves in action at Macy’s

I’ve been all across the Midwest, and when it comes to cool, free holiday happenings, Minneapolis ranks among the absolute best with its “A Day in the Life of an Elf” Macy’s auditorium show on display through Dec. 30.

This free holiday event is one of the most-beloved traditions for Minnesota families. These animated, three-dimensional journeys through scenes–often from popular children’s tales–started with Dayton’s 47 years ago. It makes sense that the Twin Cities with deep roots in theater would be able to continually construct spectacular sets.

If, instead of walking, visitors rode motorized sleighs through the 13,000-square-foot auditorium, it would be the equivalent of a Disney World ride.

Going by foot gives you a chance to study each scene, often with snippets of stories. In years past, visitors wandered through moving, larger-than-life scenes from “Harry Potter,” “Cinderella,” “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” and “The Polar Express” before the movie version.
“A Day in the Life of Elves,” brought back again this season with some slight changes, offers a comical look at the life of Santa’s helpers, from trying to wake up in the morning to getting buried in the mail room. Mice run across the elves’ kitchen floor, reindeer learn to fly while uncomfortably strapped below hot-air balloons, and elves use an inventive machine to make candy canes.

We waited in line for only 10 minutes Saturday morning (not bad) before the 20-minute walk-through. Like always, it’s smart to bring a little ka’ching for the cookies afterward.

As we left with our 5-year-old girls (each sporting a green or red frosting mustache) we realized Macy’s doesn’t need motorized sleighs to feel like Disney World. It has something just as good: eight floors of escalators. The girls loved them.

More information: Look for more information at Remember you can get validated parking through select retailers. You can also up the excitement of the outing with a trip on the Light Rail Train ( You’ll have to walk a few more blocks, but Nicollet Mall looks enchanting flanked by illuminated trees.

How about you? Leave your comments about trips to the 8th floor auditorium and share your favorite downtown events.

Upcoming blog: A spin around The Depot’s popular ice rink.