2017 Guide to The Minneapolis Aquatennial

Our partners at the mpls downtown council are here with everything you need to know about The Aquatennial! Get a full run-down of all the events and mark your calendars - you won't want to miss the biggest event of the summer in Minneapolis!
Aquatennial Guide | Twin Cities Moms Blog

Minnesota residents, workers and visitors have come to love and appreciate all that Minneapolis has to offer during the Aquatennial! The Minneapolis Aquatennial is the official civic celebration of the City of Minneapolis. Join in the celebration and enjoy The Best Days of Summer, happening July 19-22, 2017!

The Aquatennial features more than two dozen events in four days. They are located on or nearby the Mississippi Riverfront in downtown, celebrating along the banks where our city was born. The close proximity in a jam-packed four-day period offers a walkable and bike-able experience to several different events while you’re there! Search the tabs below for all the info you need to experience all that the Aquatennial has to offer!


Aquatennial Blood Drive* | WCCO-TV 9:00AM – 3:00PM

Aquatennial Tennis Classic* | Canadian Pacific Plaza, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Go Outside with Hennepin County* | Hennepin County Government Center South Plaza, 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM

Minnesota Twins vs. New York Yankees | Target Field, 12:10 PM

Loring Park Pre-Parade Family Fun Night | Loring Park, 5:00 PM – 7:30 PM

USTA Northern Rally the Family Tennis Lessons | Loring Park, 5:00 PM – 7:30 PM

Wilderness Inquiry Voyageur Canoe Rides | Loring Park, 5:00 PM – 7:30 PM

Twin Cities Orthopedics Torchlight 5K | Hennepin Avenue beginning at Basilica of St. Mary, 7:30 PM

CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade | Hennepin Avenue from Basilica of St. Mary to 5th St, 8:30 PM


Downtown Farmers Market | Hennepin County Government Center, 6:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Aquatennial Blood Drive* | East Town 9:00AM – 3:00PM

Aquatennial Tennis Classic* | Canadian Pacific Plaza, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

MN Made Market | JB Hudson Jewelers, 4:00PM-8:00PM

Candid Canines Film Fest | Target Field Station, 4:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Twin Cities River Rats Water Ski Show* | Mississippi River, West River Road (between Broadway & Plymouth Ave S) 7:00 PM


Aquatennial Blood Drive* | 5th & Nicollet 9:00AM – 3:00PM

Aquatennial Tennis Classic* | Canadian Pacific Plaza, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Aquatennial Yoga with CorePower Yoga | The Commons, 5:30 PM

Twin Cities River Rats Water Ski Show* | Mississippi River, West River Road (between Broadway & Plymouth Aves) 7:00 PM

Minnesota Twins vs. Detroit Tigers | Target Field, 7:10 PM


Twin Cities Carifest | Mississippi River, West River Road (between Broadway & Plymouth Aves) | 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM

AquaJam (Open Skateboarding, Skateboarding Competition) | Boom Island, 3:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Pre-Fireworks Festivities (Kids zone, live music, food trucks & more) | West River Parkway near Portland Ave, 6:00 PM – 10:00 PM

Minnesota Twins vs. Detroit Tigers | Target Field, 6:10 PM

Target Fireworks | West River Parkway near Portland Ave, 10:00 PM

Aquatennial’s CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade is set to take place Wednesday, July 19 at 8:30 p.m. Join the community as they gather and watch great floats, displays and bands march through the heart of Downtown Minneapolis. This is CenterPoint Energy’s 17th year being part of the Aquatennial and sponsoring the CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade. This year’s parade will again feature K102’s Chris Carr & Company morning show as the emcees, providing entertaining commentary throughout the night. Come down and celebrate on July 19!


The Minneapolis Aquatennial CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade has been a longstanding Aquatennial tradition. As a flagship Aquatennial event, the parade continues to grow. The CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade is the largest nighttime parade in Minnesota. 


The CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade is located on Hennepin Avenue between the Basilica of St. Mary and 5th Street N. Find a spot along Hennepin Avenue and enjoy the parade!

Parking garages are located on both sides of Hennepin Avenue, and Metro Transit services the area through Light Rail Transit (Green Line to and from St. Paul, Blue Line to and from MSP International Airport/Mall of America) as well as bus routes connecting across the metro area.

As a special promotion, get there by bus or light rail with a FREE ride pass from Metro Transit! Rides between 4 pm-12 am – Download your pass here!

Aquatennial Guide | Twin Cities Moms Blog

Aquatennial Guide | Twin Cities Moms Blog

The Target Fireworks are set to take place Saturday, July 22, 2017 at 10:00 pm. It’s one of the country’s largest annual fireworks displays! Come early for Aquatennial Pre-Fireworks Festivities beginning at 6pm and enjoy food trucks, your favorite festival treats, live music and much more.


Go early to get your viewing spot—bring sunscreen for the afternoon and bug spray for the evening. The best spots are between Gold Medal Park and the 3rd Avenue Bridge on West River Parkway. It’s not unusual for people to begin staking out their spots along the Mississippi Riverfront in the morning, so to ensure your best viewing location be sure to head downtown with time to spare!

Part of the experience is enjoying the music that accompanies the Target Fireworks, which are choreographed and synced together. Tune into Go 96.3 FM and enjoy the simulcast of music set to the Target Fireworks display! Learn more about the Target Fireworks below in our “Fast Facts.”

While you’re waiting for the Target Fireworks and the pre-fireworks festivities to begin, don’t miss out on other Aquatennial events that are taking place along the Mississippi Riverfront. Twin Cities CariFest is approximately 1.5 miles up the road, a leisurely walk or bike ride away. Take a stroll and enjoy an afternoon out and about in Minneapolis while enjoying multiple Aquatennial events!


Enjoy a show, tour or walk on the Endless Bridge at the Guthrie Theater, learn about Minneapolis’ history at the Mill City Museum, enjoy a morning at the Mill City Farmers Market or a leisurely afternoon at Gold Medal Park. Stop by Stone Arch Bridge and see some of the best views of our downtown skyline. Stop by and see U.S. Bank Stadium up close, which is now complete.

Pre-Fireworks Festivities from 6 pm-10 pm always have a great lineup. Pre-Fireworks festivities include:

  • Kids Zone, located near the Stone Arch Bridge featuring a mini-waterslide, a DJ with music, games prizes, inflatables and much more!
  • Food trucks on West River Parkway between Gold Medal Park and Mill City Museum
  • Live Music:

o   6 pm: Heart & Soul Drum Academy

o   7 pm: Stone Arch Isles

o   8 pm: Great Lakes New Horizon Band

o   9 pm: The Grateful RED


The Target Fireworks optimal viewing area is just blocks away from the METRO Light Rail U.S. Bank Stadium station in East Town, which services both the Blue Line from Bloomington and the Green Line from St. Paul. There are also surface and ramp parking locations located off 2nd Street, 4th Street and Chicago Avenue. You can also enjoy Nice Ride bikes located at convenient stations around the downtown area. Click Here to find the the most convenient Nice Ride station.

As a special promotion, get there bus or light rail with a FREE ride pass from Metro Transit! Rides between 4 pm – 12 am  – Download your pass here


  • Typically uses more than 10,000 pounds of explosives
  • The choreography process for the Target Fireworks takes anywhere from 2 to 4 hours of design time per minute of total show duration
  • One of the top five largest fireworks show in the country
  • Draws around 250,000 spectators to Downtown Minneapolis
  • Come early to find a spot along the river—bring sunscreen for the afternoon and bug spray for the evening. It’s worth it to see a fantastic show!
  • One of the best vantage points to take in the show is on the west side of the Mississippi River, along West River Parkway near Portland Avenue
  • Zambelli Fireworks is a full service fireworks display and pyrotechnics company
  • Since 1893, Zambelli Fireworks has been shooting over 2,300 displays annually

Loring Park Pre-Parade Family Fun Night

Aquatennial Guide | Twin Cities Moms Blog

Loring Park Family Fun Night is a family focused event held just blocks from the CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade. Featuring food trucks, free Wilderness Inquiry Voyageur Canoe Rides, free tennis lessons with USTA, plus pony rides, inflatables, kids dance party and carnival games. Find your seat for the parade and bring the family down for some fun! Stop by Loring Park from 5-7:30 pm and enjoy an evening in the park.

Waterskiing on the Mississippi

Aquatennial Guide | Twin Cities Moms Blog

The Twin Cities River Rats are back for another year of incredible high-flying stunts, fast-paced barefooting, graceful swivel skiing, and even human pyramids on the water. Bring beach towels or lawn chairs and enjoy this free water ski show for the whole family along the banks of the Mississippi River – located just south of the Broadway Bridge. The River Rats will be doing shows at 7 pm on Thursday, July 20 and 7 pm on Friday, July 21.

This year’s theme is Welcome to R.A.T.S. Academy!

Candidates at River Arts and Theatrical Skiing (R.A.T.S) Academy earn their merit on the water at this water skiing institution. Watch as we welcome new candidates in search of the elusive academy degree. Do they have the right stuff? Can they withstand the pressure? Will they graduate and become RATS? Watch the adventure as our skiers climb the heights with on-the-water human pyramids, and perform barefoot water skiing, acrobatic feats over jumps at high speeds, and much, much, more!


Aquatennial Guide | Twin Cities Moms Blog

Enjoy participating in or watching incredible skateboarding under the Minneapolis skyline at AquaJam over at Boom Island! This legacy event, which was wildly popular in the 1980s and 1990s, returned in 2016 and enjoyed huge crowds as people enjoyed a one-of-a-kind skateboarding show. You can take part in open skate from 3-6 pm, then watch or take part in a skateboarding competition from 6-8 pm that includes Cash 4 Tricks, High Hippie Jump, Barrel Jumping, 30 foot mini ramp and more. AquaJam is free to watch or participate in, and there will be food and beverage on hand as well. Don’t miss out on a fun afternoon at AquaJam!

Candid Canines Film Fest

Aquatennial Guide | Twin Cities Moms Blog

Move over, cats—this is the dogs’ day in the sun! The Candid Canines Film Fest is a new event this year at Aquatennial. It is a free, family-friendly celebration of dogs! Join us at Target Field Station on Thursday, July 20 for a film showcasing dogs being super sweet, silly, smart and oh so talented. Video clips submitted by dog lovers, as well as popular online dog videos will be featured in a 40-minute film produced right here in Minnesota. Bring your chairs or blankets to sit on at Target Field Station, and of course, your dogs are welcome! There will be several screening times and you can choose from 4:30 pm, 5:30 pm, 6:30 pm, 7:30 pm or 8:30 pm. Event sponsors and vendor booths will be on site. All proceeds benefit Can Do Canines. More info: www.aquatennial.com/participate.

Aquatennial Guide | Twin Cities Moms Blog

There are several ways to stay fit at Aquatennial! On Wednesday night, you can take part in the Twin Cities Orthopedics Torchlight 5K, which includes a run down Hennepin Avenue and along the Mississippi Riverfront and culminates with a race after party featuring music and complimentary refreshments. The race starts at 7:30 pm and runs down the same street as the CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade, so if you aren’t a runner but would like to cheer them on find your spot along Hennepin early and stay for the parade. To sign up for the Twin Cities Orthopedic Torchlight 5K, visit www.aquatennial.com/participate!

Aquatennial Guide | Twin Cities Moms Blog

On Friday, stop by The Commons park (400 Portland Avenue) from 5:30-6:30 pm and enjoy Aquatennial Yoga presented by CorePower Yoga. This yoga class is free and open to all abilities. Check-in begins at 4:30 pm. No pre-registration required, come early to reserve your spot.

Aquatennial Guide | Twin Cities Moms Blog

Each year, the Aquatennial sells Skipper Pins not only to commemorate the year but also to provide promotions and deals to local businesses throughout the downtown area. This year between July 1-July 22, you can enjoy freebies and promotions from a collection of downtown locations by showing your Skipper Pins. The Skipper Pin is $5 and can be purchased at Aquatennial.com. For more information on Skipper Pin promotions, please visit www.aquatennial.com/participate.

Click here to download your Skipper Pin Promotions Guide!

AC HOTEL MINNEAPOLIS Show your pin and receive 50% off a second drink at the AC Lounge at the AC Hotel Minneapolis Downtown
HYATT REGENCY 20% off of the bill at Prairie Kitchen & Bar.
LOK(E)L IN IDS CENTER Take 20% off of one full-priced item (excluding food) for the month of July.
LOEWS MINNEAPOLIS HOTEL Enjoy 10% off in Apothecary Bar & Lounge, Relevé Champagne Lounge, and Cosmos Restaurant at Loews Minneapolis Hotel
PEOPLE’S ORGANIC Take $5.00 off of a purchase of $25.00 or greater.
RADISSON RED 15% all food and drink purchases at the OUIBar + KTCHN
RENAISSANCE MINNEAPOLIS HOTEL, MILWAUKEE ROAD BOGO! Enjoy a complimentary draft beer or house wine with a purchase of one. Enjoy our outdoor patio and accessible parking! Easy walk to the many Aquatennial events. One redemption per pin/per day.
SHOUT HOUSE Free cover charge with skipper pin
SOCIABLE CIDER WERKS $2 off a pint in the Sociable Cider Werks Taproom.
THE BIRD Buy one drink, get one free of equal or lesser value. Valid on wine, beer, and cocktails. Limit one offer per person, with pin.
THE LOWRY Enjoy $5.00 off of a $25.00 purchase.

Thank you to Aquatennial Skipper Pin Corporate Program Sponsors:

Kraus Anderson

614 Company

Base Management

Mortenson Construction

** 2017 Aquatennial Skipper Pin must be present to receive promotion. All offers valid July 1-July 22 unless otherwise noted. Exceptions/Restrictions may apply on some specials. Check with establishment for details.


Aquatennial Guide | Twin Cities Moms Blog

Each year the Aquatennial continues to thrive thanks to the hundreds of individuals that help out through the Aquatennial Volunteer Program sponsored by U.S. Bank. This year, you can be part of all the fun! Don’t miss out on being part of the Aquatennial Volunteer Program sponsored by U.S. Bank. Take part in events like the CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade, Target Fireworks and more.

This annual program offers a chance for individuals or corporate groups to have fun while giving back to your community during Minneapolis’ Official Civic Celebration. Perks include access to the premier viewing area at the Target Fireworks on Saturday, July 22, a Love Your Melon hat, a t-shirt and more. The earlier you sign up, the more volunteer times and locations will be available for your team. For more information or to sign up, visit www.aquatennial.com/volunteer.

Give Back

The Minneapolis Aquatennial is partnering with the American Red Cross on a Blood Drive taking place Wednesday-Friday. The Red Cross currently has a severe blood shortage, and summertime always impacts blood donations because people are on vacation, etc. You can stop by and sign up the day of or register in advance online. Visit www.aquatennial.com/events to learn more about locations and how to register.

Keep up with Aquatennial as you plan your visit!


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