One of the Twin Cities’ best kept secrets takes place on water – and it’s completely free


The Twin Cities River Rats have been performing in the Twin Cities for over three decades. The River Rats are not your standard theater troupe, however, and their performances are far from ordinary: their stage is on water.

If you haven’t seen the the River Rats perform you will want to remedy that this summer. The River Rats are an incredibly talented waterski team that puts on an amazing and thrilling free show every Thursday night right on the West Bank of the Mississippi River between the Broadway and Plymouth Bridge.

And if you thought regular water skiing was difficult, these performers will blow your mind.

Each year these skiers put together an hour-long performance that’s a cross between a circus and a broadway play. Set to music and dressed in full on costume, the River Rats perform daring tricks as the audience enjoys the unfolding storyline. Interlaced into the story and show are fantastic stunts that include Ballet, whose performers are like the “Rockettes of Waterskiing” with up to 24 women skiing in unison each balancing on a single ski, Barefooted skiing, Doubles skiing, the Pyramid, where skiers must climb on top of one another at high speeds to create the classic stunt, and one of the most exciting elements of the show, Ski Jumping.

The River Rats use over 50 miles of rope in each ski show and working with a fleet of 6 towboats, 3 pontoons, 1 large dock, and a jump, the skiers practice all year round preparing for the show nearly a year in advance. With over 70 performers in the group, the River Rats are a mix between amateurs and seasoned professional water skiers that range in age from young kids to grandparents. And anyone can be a part of the team. Even you: If you’re interested, the River Rats will prepare and train you to perform in their spectacular shows. However, be ready to work hard as these skiers must learn not only ski stunts but how to navigate wind, weather conditions, waves, boat traffic, and countless other variables all unbeknownst to the audience during these exciting performances.

The shows always attract a good-sized crowd drawing around 2,000 people to the banks of the Mississippi River. Simply bring a few blankets or chairs and settle in for some great entertainment. You can also indulge in their concessions or pack your own picnic. The shows begin with a Development Show at 6:30pm showcasing members under the age of 18 and the newest members of the River Rats. Then the main show starts at 7pm but stick around after the performance to take photos with the skiers.

So head out and spend a beautiful summer evening on the river with scenic views of the Minneapolis skyline all the while marveling at the incredible performance and talent of the Twin Cities River Rats. Watching these skiers perform their stunts will definitely be one of the memorable highlights of your summer.

Check out the Twin Cities River Rats full schedule and for details if you want to be a part of the show.

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