The new Holiday Market in downtown Minneapolis is not getting a lot of holiday cheer from folks who've checked it out the past couple of weeks.
The market is a new feature this year, a replacement for the Holidazzle parade that used to run down Nicollet Avenue nearly every night during the holiday season. (It's also closed Monday night because of a water line issue nearby. It will reopen Tuesday at 11 a.m.)
The parade was meant to lure shoppers downtown to visit the various merchants afterward. But over the past several years, fewer people stuck around to shop, so the parade was cancelled and the Holiday Market was launched in its place.
Similar holiday markets are popular in cities around the world, but so far the Minneapolis version is not living up to expectations.
Complaints mostly have to do with the cost of the event and the crowded space; it's located at Peavey Plaza on the Nicollet Mall.
There's a $6 fee to get into the market (although you then get a pass to enter for free anytime after that). Some people say the food and beverages are too expensive, and they're not impressed with the merchandise selection.
Star Tribune columnist Jon Tevlin went so far as to call it a "Holifizzle."
Here's a sampling of some comments – first from Facebook:
"We attended on the second day on a sunny afternoon. First off, it should be made clear that this is NOT stroller or wheelchair friendly. If you have trouble with stairs, stay away. I can't imagine what this would be like at night. We thought there would be events for our daughters, but found mostly overpriced merchandise and insanely priced food and drink. I can't believe that we PAID to enter this maze."
"Very disappointing! Poor lighting and the strange changes in elevation and narrow isles made it dangerous. There were so many people in this enclosed area that we could only move as a herd. I can't believe it was within fire codes to have so many people in a confined space with just one entrance/exit."
Here are a few from Twitter:
And even more shots from various reviewers on Yelp:
"They charge $6 to enter an area where you buy stuff. My wife and I had a mulled wine at $11 per cup (after taxes). So for $34, we stood outside and had a cup of warm wine. I can do that in my driveway at a fraction of the cost."
"It was more a glorified food stall experience, the shopping was limited. It could have been much more family friendly. The one carousel (at $3 a ride no less) was not enough."
And perhaps the unkindest cut of all:
"Perhaps we should leave outdoor winter events to St. Paul."
In all fairness, there were others who gave the holiday village better reviews, including a writer on the Twin Cities Moms blog who found the event entertaining for her and her children.
Many writers gave the organizers credit for introducing a new concept this year. But they are certainly hoping that the execution of next year's event – if there is one – will be much better planned.