3 magical events to celebrate the last days of summer

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As August winds down, most of us Minnesotans have our eyes and, well, stomachs focused on the Minnesota State Fair. But don’t call the end of summer done just because you’ve had your fill of cheese curds and deep-fried candy bars: There are still a ton of events talking place around the Twin Cities to celebrate the whimsy of late summer Minnesota. 

Water Lantern Festival

You’ll be guaranteed to that magical and beautiful evening with the Water Lantern Festival. There’s nothing quite like it. Known around the world in different iterations – light festivals, Chinese lanterns, floating lanterns – the Water Lantern Festival will be one event you won’t soon forget. You’ll be able to join countless others at Lake Phalen and set adrift a glowing lantern onto the water lighting up the night.

Before you release your lantern, you’ll be able to write or draw whatever you’d like on the on it: Your wishes, your hopes, a love letter, regrets, fears. Write anything you’d like and caste your intentions out onto the water bringing yourself peace, hope, and happiness. For many, this can be both an emotional and inspiring experience. As the season changes and the new school year begins, even if you’re out of school, this is the perfect moment to set new goals and hopes for the coming year.

The Water Lantern Festival is a wildly popular event that includes food trucks, music, and a fun and relaxing atmosphere beginning at 5pm and running until 10pm on Saturday, August 25. Get your tickets soon as the price goes up as it gets closer to the event. And not to worry, the price of the ticket includes environmentally conscious clean-up of the lanterns so the lake will remain in its pristine state.

Circus in the Park

Free! This event is entirely free and perfect for the whole family. This show takes you out of the circus tent with an outdoor performance hosted by 2 Defy Gravity and Circus in the Park. 2 Defy Gravity is collaborating with other talented local performers to put on an incredible show that involves acrobatic stunts, the trapeze, silks, lyra, and more. The group 2 Defy Gravity is a Twin Cities based circus performance duo who specializes in the aerial arts and continues to up the ante by incorporating daring stunts, fire, and chains into their shows.  

This show will certainly be a highlight for your summer. And did I mention free?! The event takes place at Powderhorn Park on Sunday, August 26 and will have pre-show festivities starting at 12:30pm with the headlining show beginning at 2pm. Be sure to come early to snag a good seat.

Minnesota Renaissance Festival

The Renaissance Festival isn’t just for the cosplayers. You definitely don’t have to dress up but hey, if there was ever a time to bust out that chainmail or corset hiding in the back of your closet, this is it. The festival is great people-watching with fun entertainment, shopping, and fantastic food. They even have gluten-free and vegetarian food options if you’re adverse to gnawing on mutton or a turkey leg. There are 16 stages of live entertainment with highlights including jousting tournaments, Fandazzi – a circus and fire performance group, Robin Hood and The Merry Men, the hilarious Feast Masters, and of course, one of the most well-known Renaissance Festival comedic duos: Puke & Snot.

Some of this year’s new activities include an exotic zoo, bingo, axe throwing, bow and arrow shooting, and petting a magical unicorn appropriately named Magic the Live Unicorn.

The Renaissance Festival is only open on the weekends running through September 30. And you’ll want to research which weekend you attend as there are eight different themed weekends throughout the run of the festival that each feature their own unique and special events, competitions, and entertainment. For instance, come during the Highland Fling for Scottish dancers and Heavy Games Championships or come the weekend of Wine, Chocolate and Romance for a cupcake competition and a grape stomping contest. But whichever weekend you come, you’re sure to have an entertaining and memorable time.

Read next: Summer is watermelon season: Here’s what you should know