Folks in the Twin Cities used to love the Minneapolis fireworks on New Year's Eve. They lit up the sky downtown as they exploded over the Mississippi River. But, unfortunately, they were canceled for budgetary reasons. These days, Minneapolis celebrates with the Crystal Ball party, from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m., featuring live music and entertainment leading up to a countdown at midnight. You could also ring in 2020 with amazing views overlooking downtown Minneapolis from Windows on Minnesota on the 50th floor of the IDS Tower.
City-funded fireworks are now limited to the Fourth of July extravaganza known as the Independence Day Red, White, and Boom fireworks. As a result, Twin Cities residents rely on other places that organize New Year's Eve fireworks in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area.
If New Year's Eve fireworks don't work out for you, there are plenty of other ways to celebrate New Year's Eve in Minneapolis, from the Crystal Ball countdown in the city's International Market Square to ice skating, restaurant blowouts, parties, and family events.
Fireworks Near Minneapolis and St. Paul
Buck Hill Ski Area, just south of Minneapolis and St. Paul is Minnesota's premier outdoor and action sports recreation area and the unofficial capital of American ski racing. It also organizes an annual New Year's Eve celebration with fireworks. On December 31, Buck Hill allows night skiing, snow tubing, and other winter sports until midnight. There is typically also a family-friendly entertainer, activities for kids and live music. At midnight, a spectacular fireworks display explodes over the mountains. The fireworks and extra events are free; visitors pay only for lift tickets, food, and cocktails.
Afton Alps, in the St. Croix Valley just outside Minneapolis and St. Paul, organizes an annual New Year's Eve Extravaganza with skiing and snowboarding until 10:30 p.m., a torchlight skiing parade, live music until midnight, contests and a bonfire. Hillside fireworks light up the sky at 9 p.m. The fireworks and party are free; visitors pay only for lift tickets, food, beverages, and rentals.
At the annual Skyrockers New Year's Eve Fireworks Show, in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, the Skyrockers put on an annual New Year's Eve fireworks show from the top of Grandad's Bluff, about 2.5 hours south of the Twin Cities. Lacrosse is right across the Minnesota-Wisconsin state line, so you can get a good view from the Minnesota or Wisconsin side. There are two shows, one at 6 p.m. and the other at midnight.
You can't launch your own fireworks in Minnesota. Any firework that launches and goes airborne or explodes, or both, is illegal. However, in the neighboring state of Wisconsin, firework sales are legal. Wisconsin cities just over the state line offer plenty of opportunities to purchase fireworks but then apply constraints to the types you can launch. But, even though it's legal to purchase fireworks in Wisconsin, it's still illegal to bring them back into Minnesota, and it's illegal to launch or set off fireworks in Minnesota unless you are officially licensed to do so.