After a day on the trails, unwind with an assortment of entertainment options in Mankato. Our vibrant, historic downtown offers live music and our civic center draws international headliner acts. You will find a packed year-round event calendar in Mankato including quality theater, music, dance and visual arts. Or, plan a weekend around one of the many wellness events Mankato can offer you.
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Top Local Events and Festivals in Mankato
The city of Mankato keeps its visitors and residents entertained year-round with plenty of exciting events and festivals. Almost all events are focused on celebrating the unique character of the Mankato area—including its history, climate, location and friendly atmosphere. Here are 11 of the top annual events and festivals in Mankato, Minnesota, throughout the year.
Mankato Craft Beer Expo, January 8, 2022
The expo will showcase the offerings of craft breweries here in Minnesota, as well as all over the United States. Attendees to the expo will have the opportunity to sample beers from over 40 different craft breweries in a commemorative sampling glass. In addition to this, they can enjoy educational seminars throughout the day covering subjects such as Food Pairing, Homebrewing, and the History of Brewing in Minnesota. With brewery and distributor representatives on hand to answer questions, attendees will be able to have an enjoyable and educational experience learning about beer, its components and flavors.
Anthony Ford Pond Hockey Classic, January 28-29, 2023
Every winter, Spring Lake Park is a hot spot for both youth and adult hockey players for the Anthony Ford Pond Hockey Classic event. Several local hockey teams compete on the frozen Spring Lake Park’s pond during a two-day event that has additional options for family fun including a sledding hill and 12 separate professional rinks. There’s also a warming house to take a break from the cold. Games are categorized by youth and adult teams, and all entrance fees go toward local charities to support fighting childhood leukemia. Learn more
More Snow Fun: Top Winter Activities
Speechless Film Festival, March (2022 Dates TBA)
Speechless Film Festival is a 2-day multimedia event that showcases local and international artists. The unique mission of our festival is to foster cross-cultural engagement through the celebration of visual storytelling, a creative endeavor rooted deeply in the history of cinema. Visual storytelling transcends a wide variety of film genres including documentary, animation, drama, experimental, etc. Speechless is the first film festival in the region to showcase an ambitious and diverse program of films, which provides a unique arts experience and valuable educational opportunity for students to connect with visiting speakers and filmmakers. Speechless was created in 2013 and is presented by Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, Minnesota. Learn more
CityArt Walking Sculpture Tour, May 2021 – April 2022
This exciting exhibit of outdoor sculptures is displayed year-round in the City Center of Mankato and North Mankato. Artists place their sculptures in the program for one year. The sculptures are promoted to the public for sale. Artists are eligible to win cash awards, as well as the possibility of having their piece voted The People’s Choice and purchased by CityArt for permanent installation. Find tour maps in the ballot/voting boxes along the route or on the CityArt website.
Greater Mankato Bike & Walk Month, May 2022
May is officially bicycle month in the Mankato area, and locals celebrate by participating in Greater Mankato Bike & Walk Month. Each day has its own exciting theme and programs like Bike and Walk to School Day, Bicycle Safety Rally and the Mayor’s Ride. Other scheduled events throughout Bike Month include the History Bike Ride (a ride through the historic districts), Valley Crawl (a pub crawl on bikes) and National Bike to Work Day. The event’s goal is to promote a healthier lifestyle and to raise awareness about bike safety. More Cycling: Download the Bike and Hike Guide.
History Bike Ride, May (2022 Date TBA)
Don your finest vintage duds and join the Greater Mankato Bike & Walk Advocates for a History Bike Ride, which features historical structures in Mankato. The ride will depart at 10 am. A 14 mile go slow group bicycle ride through lower North Mankato and lower Mankato, no steep hills, with frequent stops for brief history presentations. We will stop for lunch at the South Front Street restaurant of your choosing (lunch is not provided by the ride). This event is free and open to the public. Helmets are required and tweed is recommended. Learn more
Raw Fusion, (2022 date TBA)
Raw Fusion, presented by the Minnesota River Builders Association, is a high-energy, abstract fashion show dedicated to bringing attention to the local building industry while raising funds and awareness for a local cause. Utilizing raw building materials as the inspiration for their outfit ensemble, each is judged for their uniqueness and flair. Learn more
Bookin’ on Belgrade, May 21, 2022
Bookin’ on Belgrade is in its 4th year running. This event is a nearly 5K Family Fun Run and “walk” brought to you by The Business on Belgrade Association.
Mankato MoonDogs Baseball, May – August 2022
The Mankato MoonDogs, a collegiate summer team playing in the Northwoods League, start their season in June each summer. The games continue until the home season wraps up in mid-August, with the hope of playoff games already in the air. Special events and fan-friendly promotions are often part of the MoonDog experience. Giveaways, guest appearances by sports celebrities and entertaining ballgame antics can be expected at many of the games. Learn more
Songs on the Lawn, June 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, 2022
A lunchtime event with music, food and fun in the heart of City Center Mankato. Held each Thursday in June from 11:00 a.m.-1:0o p.m. Learn more
Festival Solstice, June 17-18, 2022
Every June, Festival Solstice at Land of Memories Park is a popular annual outdoor festival loaded with live music from dozens of bands, artisans and local food vendors. Participants can see and take part in a variety of events, including a kids talent contest, craft beer tastings and fund-raising activities for charities. Families are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and/or blankets for a more comfortable concert experience. Learn more
Fireworks, July 4, 2022
The area’s most spectacular 4th of July celebration. Riverfront Park opens at 5 p.m. with live entertainment, food and beverages. Fireworks begin at 10 p.m. and are synced to music from Radio Mankato stations: Hot 96.7, Minnesota 93 and 94.1 KXLP Classic Rock.
North Mankato Fun Days, July 6-10, 2022
North Mankato Fun Days in Wheeler Park is a multi-day event catered to both children and adults with fun activities like the Kids Pedal Tractor Pull, Fire Department Water Fights, Special Needs Carnival and a live petting zoo. Other attractions at Fun Days are the vintage cars and motorcycle shows, horseshoe tournament, bingo games, a parade and more. Fun Days is a longstanding event, surpassing 50 years and is becoming an important tradition to the city of North Mankato. More Family Fun: Top Kid-Friendly Activities
Rockin’ on the Hill, July 16, 2022
Rockin’ on the Hill is a family-friendly outdoor event on Good Counsel Hill in Mankato. This summer music fest will feature great live music, food trucks, spirits, pull tabs, traveling boutiques and more! Bands will play from 5:30 to 11 p.m., with gates at 5 p.m. Invite your friends and bring your lawn chair for a fantastic evening! All ages welcome. Learn more
Thunder of Drums – 30th Anniversary, July 12, 2022
The Thunder of Drums is a sight to be seen and HEARD! You will be blown off your bleacher by the fantastic drum corps competing at Minnesota State University, Mankato Campus. The world’s finest drum corps will present a show of soaring musical and visual artistry. Presented by the Mankato Downtown Kiwanis Club and the Mankato ’77 Lancers Marching Band with net proceeds supporting local Kiwanis youth programs and the Lancers. Learn more
Blues on Belgrade, July 30, 2022
Several Blues bands from all over perform in downtown North Mankato. Come rain or shine.
Bluff Rider’s Charge, July 23-24, 2022
A longtime series favorite race, Bluff Rider’s Charge has access to 7+ miles of wooded single track to tailor-make courses for all 3 Pods. Your beloved trails will be prepped and ready to shred, courtesy of the Mount Kato Trail Crew! MNMBS, Mount Kato, and the Mankato Interscholastic Cycling Team are joining forces to re-energize the iconic Bluff Rider’s Charge. All proceeds from the race will benefit More Families on Bikes, a Mankato-based organization that cultivates the family cycling culture as an independent activity provider.
Ribfest, August 4-7, 2022
Indulge in one of America’s favorite meaty dishes at Ribfest, held annually every August at Riverfront Park (360° virtual tour) and Vetter Stone Amphitheater in Mankato. Attendees can sample multiple rib recipes along with other barbecued meat while enjoying live bands during the event. Several designated kids’ activities are on-hand each year with games, crafts and more.
More Eats: Top 10 Local Restaurants in Mankato
Alive After Five, August 11, 18, 25, and September 1, 2022
Enjoy an evening of music, food and beverages. Held the last three Thursdays in August and the first Thursday in September from 5:00-7:30 p.m. Learn more
MN Senior Games August 11-14, 2022
The Minnesota Senior Games exists today as a non-profit organization dedicated to motivating active adults to lead a healthy lifestyle through the senior games movement. The Games, a 20 plus sport, annual competition for men and women 50 and over, is a statewide competition but also brings in athletes from all over the country. Visit Mankato is proud to announce we are hosting the 2021 & 2022 Minnesota Senior Games August 12-15, 2021! Learn more
River Valley 100, August 28, 2022
The River Valley 100 is an opportunity for bicyclists of many levels -whether you want to conquer it or survive it – this is the ride for you. The ride and race are free but please register on line to help us with planning. Donations will gladly be accepted to help offset costs of organizing the ride. Learn more.
Mahkato Annual Traditional Pow-Wow – 50th Anniversary, September 16-18, 2022
Learn about Native American culture and enjoy traditional arts and crafts, delicious foods, drumming, singing and dancing at the annual Mahkato Pow-Wow, or Wacipi, at Land of Memories Park. The event takes place to honor the 38 Dakota warriors who died in the largest mass execution in U.S. history and to signify the reconciliation between the Dakota and local settlers following the Dakota Conflict. Learn more
Oktoberfest, Bier on Belgrade, September 17, 2022
Open from 2 to 8 p.m. Beer sampling from 3 to 6 p.m. Cost is $5 admission (21 and over only) or $10 admission, with new Bier Mug with ticket for one free beer fill. Activities include ceremonial first beer with city officials, Music, along with brat eating contest, bean bag toss area and hammerslagger. Wear your lederhosen and receive an extra free beer ticket with the $10 admission.
History Fest, October 8, 2022
Travel back in time at History Fest, held annually at Darby Village on McGowans Farm, where adults and kids can see firsthand what living the farm lifestyle in the 17th century was like. Guests get to see performances by belly dancers, fire-eaters, storytellers, cannon shooters and cider makers. The farm focuses on Irish and Scottish traditions and activities. Families also have a chance to sample centuries-old recipes to get a taste of early farm life.
Mankato River Ramble, October 9, 2022
Check out the glorious fall colors of Minnesota by joining a scenic bike ride during the Mankato River Ramble. Presented by OFC and River’s Edge and hosted by both Mankato Bike Alliance and Minnesota Bicycle Alliance, the River Ramble is a celebration of Mankato’s award-winning bike trails and community. Cyclists can choose several routes from 12 miles to 50 miles to bike through fall foliage and past local rivers and lakes. All of the bike trails have rest stops for food and drinks, live music and more.
Mankato Marathon, October 14-15, 2022
Mankato Marathon, presented by Mayo Clinic Health System, is the area’s biggest race of the year and features a 5K, 10K, half marathon, full marathon, relay and KidsK. The courses are the perfect blend of Mankato’s scenic countryside, trails and historical urban landscape, highlighting the beautiful Minnesota River Valley. Visitors can participate in one of the races (early registration is encouraged) or cheering on runners. Learn more
International Festival, November 14, 2021
Old Town Mankato: Day of the Dead, October 29, 2022
Come to Old Town Mankato for a FREE family cultural event in Old Town Mankato! Experience Day of the Dead in our community! Festivities include, Mariach Estelar Mariachi Band, Zamora Folklore Dancers, Aztec Dancers, Street Performers and Musicians, Mexican Wrestling Ring, Car Show, Authentic + Local Food Trucks, Makers Market and FREE activities + treats for families sponsored by Old Town Association and community businesses. Learn more
Kiwanis Holiday Lights, November 25 – December 31, 2022
The biggest holiday event in Mankato is the Kiwanis Holiday Lights celebration in Sibley Park that attracts thousands of visitors annually. Families are invited to walk or drive through the route of more than 1.5 million holiday lights. Other on-site activities include ice skating (rentals available), reindeer encounters, an illumination show with LED lights, Santa visits, ice sculptures and more. Learn more
Bells on Belgrade, December 3, 2022
Bells on Belgrade kicks off the holiday season with Santa and his elves, carolers from MSU, the Mankato West Choir and other live music throughout the afternoon.
Christmas at the Hubbard House, December (2022 Dates TBA)
Take a step back in time and see the house decorated for the season. Something has gone wrong at the Hubbard House! Can you untangle the mystery? Visit with the Hubbard family, staff and guests and see if you can solve the history mystery! Enjoy a display of textiles and handiworks throughout the house as well. Once done, return to the Carriage House to see if you figured out who did it and enjoy refreshments and a holiday gift shop. Learn more
Business on Belgrade Events, January/May/July/October/December
Business on Belgrade hosts several events throughout the year starting with the Anthony Ford Pond Hockey Tournament in January. Bookin’ on Belgrade takes paces in May and is a fun run for the whole family. Enjoy a great lineup of talented Blues Band with Blues on Belgrade in July. Celebrate Oktoberfest with Bier on Belgrade every September and enjoy the sights and sounds of the holiday season with Bells on Belgrade in December.