COVID shutdowns threw a wet blanket on Twin Cities NYE celebrations

The party fizzled for many Twin Cities residents on New Year's Eve as venues around the metro area scrapped their festivities citing COVID concerns.

Unsplash/Artem Kniaz

For the second straight year, many large New Year’s Eve celebrations across the United States were canceled or pared down due to COVID concerns, including some in the Twin Cities area.

The Minneapolis Armory, an 8,400-person capacity music venue located downtown, canceled “Lights All Night Minneapolis,” and opted to issue refunds to ticketholders within 15 days. Although the venue didn’t specify a specific reason for the cancelation, it cited “concern” for “fans, artists, employees, and local communities,” indicating that the decision was likely coronavirus related.

Facebook/The Armory

Minneapolis’s Guthrie Theater also scrapped its remaining performances of “A Christmas Carol,” in order to “prioritize the health and safety of our artists, staff and guests,” the theater told WCCO. This comes not long after a COVID outbreak among the show’s fully vaccinated cast.

Other venues released similar statements upon cancellation of their New Year’s Eve events — but some expressed clear frustration.

“We are all tired of the pandemic’s disruptions in our plans and daily life. The sacrifices so many continue to make are unbelievable,” wrote organizers of the New Year’s Eve Danceteria on Minneapolis’ First Avenue. “It also feels unbelievable to be postponing and canceling concerts and events as we close out 2021, but here we are.”

Can Can Wonderland, a 35,000 square foot entertainment center in St. Paul, shut down operations until Jan. 6, meaning there was no “Naughty New Year’s Eve” on Friday night as originally planned. “I’m confident that this is the right thing to do right now, but rest assured that we are dreaming up a diverse roster of really fun happenings for 2022,” said director of operations Tony Perella about the cancelation.

Not all venues scrapped their New Year’s Eve festivities, though. Minneapolis’ Fair State Brewing Cooperative hosted a lower-key event featuring toasts and mini-ball drops.

Even at this venue, however, the celebration was subdued. “It’s not going to be a totally packed space. We’re not bringing in live DJs or anything like that. Just doing a mini ball-drop,” said co-founder Matt Hauck ahead of the event.

The Xcel Energy Center, a 20,000-seat entertainment venue located in St. Paul, also proceeded with its “Winter Classic New Year’s Eve Bash” headlined by country music artist Thomas Rhett. Although the organizers did not require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to enter, they “requested” attendees wear a mask regardless of vaccination status.

COVID was not the only thing to put a damper on New Year’s Eve celebrations in the Twin Cities. Bitterly cold temperatures also kept some people at home. Temperatures dipped below zero on New Year’s Eve and remain frigid on New Year’s Day.


Evan Stambaugh

Evan Stambaugh is a freelance writer who had previously been a sports blogger. He has a BA in theology and an MA in philosophy.