Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A glimpse of Northfield during the holiday season December 21, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Outside an antique shop in historic downtown Northfield, Minnesota.


NORTHFIELD RATES AS ONE of my favorite Minnesota cities. It’s a charming/quaint/picturesque river town with a timeless small town feel.


Photographed through the front window of Quality Bakery, a snippet of the bakery’s holiday window display.


Signage directs families to Santa’s house in Bridge Square.


The Christmas tree in Bridge Square brightens the wintry landscape with bold red decorations.


For someone like me who prefers rural to urban, a 22-minute drive there with no traffic hassles, visual delights in a historic downtown, an artsy vibe (including sidewalk poetry) and more, make this college city of some 20,000 particularly appealing. Especially at Christmas.


Bridge Square in the heart of downtown Northfield.


An ornament on that community Christmas tree.


Santa’s house, where Santa has always been absent whenever I’ve stopped at Bridge Square.


Fancied up holiday window displays, a Santa House and Christmas tree in Bridge Square (the downtown community gathering spot), an annual Christmas Walk, the renowned St. Olaf College Christmas Concert and more transform Northfield into a magical place during the holiday season.



I recently spent some time Christmas shopping in the downtown made famous by The James-Younger Gang’s robbery of the First National Bank on September 7, 1876. Today that bank building houses the Northfield Historical Society. The museum sits right across the street from Bridge Square.


A wagon load of Wisemen awaits shoppers outside an antique shop.


It’s not that I like shopping—I don’t. But I’d rather shop in one-of-a-kind local shops than in Anywhere Mall, USA. Northfield offers an abundance of home-grown retail stores.



There’s a lot of creativity in Northfield. And an appreciation of that creativity. I once participated in a beer poetry reading at a local brewery. How cool is that?


Beau inside Marketplace @ 416.


Christmas or not, the Americana small town-ness of Northfield endears this river town to me.



TELL ME: Have you been to Northfield and, if so, what about it appeals to you? Or what town do you find especially charming wherever you live?

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


22 Responses to “A glimpse of Northfield during the holiday season”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    Oh Beau. So adorable. Love the wagon of wise men as well. Great pictures of a great time of year. I love our little town of Brevard. They really decorate for Christmas and it is beautiful at night with all the trees lining the main street covered in lights and the courthouse and huge evergreen next to it lit up as well. I forgot to do a post about it this year so you will just have to imagine it. Merry Christmas!

    • Brevard sounds like my kind of town.

      One of Caleb’s friends from Charlotte, N.C., was over last evening. As he was leaving, I asked, “Where are your hat and mittens?”

      “I don’t need them. I don’t live in Minnesota any more,” he answered. And we laughed.

  2. Brenda R Says:

    I have never shopped or even stopped in Northfield, however I have always loved the SMELL of Northfield whenever we’ve driven through!!! The Malt-O-Meal plant there is a delight for my nose!!! I wonder if residents get tired of it? I like shopping some of the small shops in St Peter MN near me. Or Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, or Walker in Northern MN in the summer.

  3. Littlesundog Says:

    Not many communities around here decorate for the holidays. I do believe the Bricktown district of Oklahoma City does a fabulous display along their river walk. Towns or cities I would consider charming in Oklahoma are around the Tulsa area. Not much eye appeal to the little towns in the southwestern part of the state where I live.Without much oil and gas production over the last 30 years, many communities are barely surviving.

  4. treadlemusic Says:

    Your wonderful assessment of Northfield echoes my feelings exactly. It’s a storybook village that just begs one to saunter slowly, pausing at will for the enticing vignettes that may be found in each shop window. Thnx so much for sharing …………………

    • You get it. Northfield is that type of town where you just slow down and take it all in. I appreciate how the businesses take the time to craft artsy window displays along with all the other visual delights this community presents.

  5. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    What a pretty little town.

  6. Gunny Says:

    Love Northfield! I talked to one of the shop owners and was surprised that the city council had voted a fair big chunk of change to be born by the shop owners in some form of either property tax or business fees. That business was borderline as it was. Been to the museum, a local coffee shop, a book store, an antique shop, the library and one of the older restaurants on the Northwest side of “Front”? Street across from the library (north of Bridge Square). I have several ancestors and relatives who are still living, who attended one of the colleges there. One even taught school there though I never met that individual.

    Thank You Audrey, the pictures allow me to see Northfield in the snow without feeling the biting cold.
    Merry Christmas to All and a Very Happy New Year – See ya all in June.

  7. Sandra Van Erp Says:

    Stillwater and Hudson, even White Bear do pretty well. If I had a basement, I’d buy out that blow mold collection. They still exceed the inflatables in this area, thank heavens. They are an art form of their own with artists and vintage designs and web site under Planet Christmas. The character of southern MN towns is still the best. Thanks!

  8. Valerie Says:

    I love living in Northfield! Before we moved to town in 1994 we would come for day trips…it is a lovely small town with so many wonderful amenities. Thanks for highlighting our great town Audrey.

  9. Man, that antique store looks like someplace where I could spend a LOT of time! Lovely piece, Audrey.

  10. Bella Says:

    Thanks for sharing the holiday glow and spirit of Northfield Your lens captured sharp images that allows a reader to easily imagine the festive spirit of the area.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.