On the evening of Dec. 6, from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m., Northfield will hold its annual Winter Walk festival. Despite the lack of snow and the unseasonably warm weather, candles will line downtown Division Street, reindeer sleighs and horse-drawn carts will run all night, shops will pass out free hot chocolate and Santa and his elves will spend some time with the younger festival attendees. With the addition of a few extra blocks of activity, this year’s Winter Walk is Northfield’s largest ever, encompassing nearly the entire downtown area. The Northfield Chamber of Commerce’s 14th Annual Winter Walk promises to continue the town’s tradition of gathering thousands of residents and students to bring holiday cheer out into the streets of Northfield.
If you are new to Winter Walk, begin the night in the heart of downtown, Bridge Square. In the square, you will find carolers, drawings for prizes, holiday treats and information about other festival activities. Follow the luminaries – paper bags with small candles – down Division Street to explore the different events.
Similar to past years, a variety of musical groups will play an integral role in creating the festival’s atmosphere. Local radio station KYMN will blast Christmas songs for the duration of the festival. Along with the radio’s pop classics, musical group I Cantani and the Northfield High School and Middle School choirs and bands will be performing throughout the night in various locations downtown. Stop by the Rare Pair to listen to classical guitar music by Randall Fergeson. The Season Singers will also be performing in the Archer House lobby. Watch for your classmates as the St. Olaf trombones perform while strolling downtown from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Winter Walk also features many events that highlight other forms of creativity. The Northfield Arts Guild dance troupe will perform a rendition of The Nutcracker. Warm up from the chilly evening in the Northfield Public Library with two floors featuring elaborate working model trains. Create personalized ornaments at the Eclectic Goat and Glass Garden Beads. Inside the Northfield Armory, festival-goers can enjoy the summer’s favorite Riverwalk Market Fair, featuring local food and crafts.
Some of the other food related events include free hot chocolate provided by the Trinity Lutheran Church outside the Thrivent Financial building, “S’mores in a Cup” from Edina Reality and drive-through hot apple cider and donuts at Millstream Commons. Many stores view Winter Walk as an opportunity to attract new costumers, and some provide food for patrons. Local store SWAG will demonstrate their caramel corn makers by giving away free samples. Paper Petulum will be also be demonstrating how to make the Norwegian favorite Krumkake. Stop by the Secret Attic for apple cider, cookies, and in-store drawings throughout the night.
A variety of events allow attendees to pass holiday cheer onto others in the community through charity. The VFW encourages residents to “Spread Warmth Overseas” by purchasing hotdogs, fries and hot chocolate. All the proceeds from the food will go to buy phone cards for soldiers stationed abroad. Bring unwrapped toys downtown to help Domko Ford Dealership “Fill a Ford” with toys to donate. Premier Bank will provide hot chocolate outside their building and will be accepting donations that benefit the Prairie’s Edge Humane Society.
As finals loom and the year comes to a hectic close, spend some time away from campus celebrating the holidays with Northfield residents at the Winter Walk festival.
“My first experience at Winter Walk really highlighted for me amazing aspects of the Northfield community,” John Knapp ’14 said. “Walking around downtown has a special feel when the entirety of the community is out there with you. Plus, free hot chocolate is always a plus!”
With events ranging from musical groups and crafts, to food and other holiday activities, Winter Walk brightens downtown Northfield and encourages all members of the community to stroll Division Street and ring in the holiday season.