Downtown Minneapolis has loads of free entertainment and events this summer. Whether it’s music, art, history, education or even eclectic performance that piques your interest, there’s something cultural for you that doesn’t cost a thing.
FREE CONCERTS – Don’t miss the last week of Tunes at Noon and Alive after 5 which feature pop, rock and blues music at Peavey Plaza, The June 21st through June 25th schedule is available on the Minneapolis Downtown Council’s website. On Saturday June 26th, The Plaza Palooza finishes out the series in style with a day of music featuring seven local bands including Bright Lights and Heroes and Postina. In July, Sommerfest graces the same plaza with classical music. The Minnesota Orchestra presents their visiting Sommerfest musicians at free concerts before and after their regular Orchestra Hall engagements. Check their website for specific dates and times.
FREE PUBLIC ART DISPLAYS – There is public art all over the skyways as well as outside in the city’s green spaces. One of the best free art venues is the Burnett Gallery in the Chambers Hotel, where there are over 200 examples of contemporary art from hotel owner Ralph Burnet’s personal collection. As well, they host rotating shows and classy art openings. Another great free gallery is tucked into the skyway and street levels of the Northstar East Building. Called the Louvre It or Leave It Museum, it’s a two-story display of several modern pieces. When Mr. Fink, the benefactor is there, he gladly gives guided tours. If outdoor art is your passion, the site Start Seeing Art maps where to find several sculptures, architectural details and statues in Minneapolis. Another website (my own), Skyway of Love, also highlights objects of beauty in downtown that are free to viewers, like the impressive collection at the Thrivent Financial Building and Paul Manship’s urns at the Accenture Tower.
FREE HISTORICAL TOURS – Some great tours through the city’s buildings and streets are happening this summer. The Minneapolis City Hall and Courthouse Tour at noon on the 3rd Wednesday of every month offers visitors an informed look at the art, architecture and history of the two buildings. If a self-guided trip is preferred, simply ask the security desk for their pamphlet. Or try one of the Summer Walking Tours sponsored by the Heritage Preservation Commission. They are offering three special downtown tours this summer. Their brochure describes these expeditions that take folks to the Warehouse District, the Hennepin Avenue Theaters or to see the city’s most modern skyscrapers.
FREE PERFORMANCES – Hennepin County’s Summer on the Plaza presents a wide range of acts on the north side of the Hennepin County Government Center at noon on different dates over the summer. Performers include bell ringers, dancers, theater groups, martial artists and even baton twirlers. Here’s their eclectic schedule of free shows.
FREE CLASSES & GROUPS – The Minneapolis Library is the ultimate summer downtown destination for both kids and parents offering a huge variety of complimentary programs. Their events include storytime circles, fun science presentations, and even a gamers group for teens. Adults can take classes in computer skills, resume tips and get business development advice. The art exhibitions in the building are an added bonus for all ages.
These are just some of the great free cultural things to do in downtown Minneapolis. Metro Transit even has a free bus route that runs the length of the Nicollet Mall from Washington Avenue to Grant Street. Look for the buses marked “Free Ride” and get on board as you enjoy all the complimentary tours, music and classes in the city this summer.