Holiday hopping: 5 bar crawls to spice up the festivities

Holiday hopping: 5 bar crawls to spice up the festivities
photo courtesy of 12 Bars of Christmas

This year, try something a little less wholesome for the holidays. All throughout the metro, Twin Cities bars and breweries are getting into the holiday spirit (yes, cheesy pun intended – I always intend my puns) and giving us the best present of the year: Holiday-themed bar crawls.

Put down your eggnog, kiss grandma goodbye, pick up a pint, and let the festivities begin.

Holiday hopping: 5 bar crawls to spice up the festivities

Bar hopping through the holidays

1. Brews & Bulbs

Your official holiday craft brew bar crawl. Come hop on a toasty warm coach bus and meet your new bar crawl buddies. The bus will chauffeur you around the cities stopping at three different local craft breweries: 12welve Eyes, Bad Weather and Flat Earth. At each brewery you’ll receive a pint of a local craft brew that’s included in the ticket cost, though you’ll probably want to sample a few more. You’re also encouraged to buy a growler for the road to pair it with tasty complimentary popcorn from Candyland as you travel to the next destination.

In between the brewery stops, your charming tour guide will take you past amazing holiday light displays and make a stop at Rice Park for a photo op amongst the twinkling lights. Be sure to also wear your ugliest holiday sweater or your festive best for the chance to win an extra free drink. (You’ll want to be especially nice to your fellow bar crawlers as they will judge the winner.) But even if you lose the ugly sweater contest everyone still takes home a free pint glass as a souvenir. 

Dates: December 1, 8, 15, 22, 29

Cost: $75

2. 12 Bars of Christmas

Head downtown Minneapolis to the Warehouse District and be part of the largest holiday bar crawl in the cities. Pre-order a 12 Bars of Christmas t-shirt or wristband for free cover and food and drink specials at all participating bars which, incidentally, has expanded well beyond 12 bars since the bar crawl’s inception in 2004. Come dressed in your terrible holiday sweaters or decked out as Santa himself to really get into the festivities.

And you can feel good about this bar crawl too, as some of the proceeds go to the Children’s Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota. So really, your drinking is helping the children.

Date: December 7

Cost: $35

3. The Minneapolis Santa Bar Crawl

Dust off your Santa suit and head to either downtown Minneapolis or Uptown for this “choose-your-own-adventure” bar crawl. You can pick up your wristband, your two free drink tickets, and don your free Santa hat (while supplies last) at the check-in venue before heading out to the 8+ participating bars.

You can make your way around the cities with free bus rides between downtown Minneapolis and Uptown and enjoy music, dancing and drink and food specials at all the bars. And after hopping from bar to bar, at 10pm you’ll want to make your way to the after party (venue pending) for another drink special, dancing, and a special guest DJ.

Date: December 15

Cost: Tickets starting at $10

4. Ugly Sweater Bar Crawl

Put on your absolute ugliest holiday sweater and head out to Stillwater for a memorable night. While bars still may be added to the crawl, so far you’ll be venturing between four bars all conveniently within a three block walking distance: Portside (where you will sign-in), Brian’s, No Neck Tony’s, and The Tilted Tiki. At each bar you’ll enjoy a free pre-selected specialty drink along with additional drink and food specials. The festivities kick off at 2pm so you may want to pace yourself or by the end of the night you might start to think your sweater isn’t so ugly after all!

Date: December 15

Cost: Early bird $18, At the door $22

5. 12 Bars of Charity

Debuting in Minneapolis this year, 12 Bars of Charity is one of the more fun ways to give back during the holidays. Eight different charities in the area participate in a friendly competition with the ultimate goal of having the most people sign up under their cause. All you need to do is choose which charity you’d like to support and then drink your way across Uptown at the 12+ participating bars.

You’ll receive a 12 Bars of Charity sweatshirt (each charity is a different color), a $10 donation to the charity you chose, free shuttle rides between bars, and of course, great drink specials at each venue.

Participating Charities:

Animal Humane Society, Autism Speaks Minnesota, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Minnesota Chapter, Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota-North Dakota, Make-A-Wish Minnesota, Secondhand Hounds, Special Olympics Minnesota, and Soar Leadership Council of Children’s Cancer Research Fund

Date: December 14

Cost: Tickets starting at $25

For other places to grab a drink this holiday season, read this article next: The Twin Cities Agenda Guide to the Best Bars in Minneapolis