Friends, this week we asked Chris Harrington to share the exciting summer of festivities kicking off next week at the Ordway.

Before we hand things off to Chris, I want to call your attention to the community information sessions we will be hosting next week to share more about our effort to create a new, larger Downtown Improvement District. More information can be found below and we hope you'll join us.


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A summer of fun at the Ordway


Greetings, downtown Saint Paul enthusiasts:

Living, working and playing in downtown Saint Paul has afforded me the opportunity to literally walk to a wide variety of unforgettable experiences, from multi-instrumentalist and bandleader Kamasi Washington’s set at the Fitzgerald Theater and a fiddle-banjo-ukulele trio performing at Dark Horse in Lowertown, to taking in a Saints game at CHS Field and fetching delicious coffee at places like Hepcat. These are just a few of the many happenings downtown that we sometimes take for granted because they’re in our own backyard.

I am grateful that I get to work at the Ordway, a place that contributes to the vibrancy of downtown Saint Paul. The Ordway is about so much more than theater shows. Our purpose is to make the performing arts accessible to all, and I’m excited to share two upcoming free and low-cost programs that do just that: The 24th annual Flint Hills Family Festival and Ordway Inside Out.

Flint Hills Family Festival

The Flint Hills Family Festival is returning to downtown Saint Paul May 31-June 1! On behalf of the Ordway and Flint Hills Resources, we invite you to join us at this accessible world-class festival. The event offers $5 performances inside the Ordway and free performances and activities outside in Rice Park and Landmark Plaza. The schedule includes:


Friday night fun

May 31, 6-9 p.m.

Visit Rice Park for face painting, balloon artists, instrument making, drum circles, a petting zoo, a magician, DJ dance parties, crafts and much more! Throughout the night, visitors will enjoy free performances from Jack Brass Band and dance parties with a local DJ. Book your tickets now to see Davina and The Vagabonds perform inside the Ordway at 7 p.m.


Saturday spectacular

June 1, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Create your own adventure through Rice Park with more free crafts, STEAM activities, henna artists, face painting, balloon artists and so much more. Enjoy free stage performances all day including a concert by B2wins at noon and a closing show from Salsa del Soul at 3:15 p.m. Book your tickets now to see Grammy Award-winning 123 Andrés perform inside the Ordway at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.


Exclusive opportunity for The Little Mermaid

Festivalgoers will have the opportunity to get first dibs on tickets to see The Little Mermaid this December at the Ordway!


This festival is made possible through a partnership between the Ordway and Flint Hills Resources, which began in 2001. Visit Ordway.org/festival for the festival schedule, parking tips and free Metro Transit passes for getting to and from the event.

Ordway Inside Out

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This summer, audiences will again be able to watch programming inside the Ordway for free on a giant video wall outside in Rice Park! Ordway Inside Out – an initiative of the four Arts Partnership organizations – is intended to increase access to the arts. Featuring food trucks and world-class performances, Ordway Inside Out brings people together in our beautiful parks, and contributes to the vitality of downtown Saint Paul.

The Ordway Inside Out 2024 schedule includes:

      Saturday, June 22: Schubert Club presents Víkingur Ólafsson

The celebrated Icelandic pianist performs a program of music by J.S. Bach and Phillip Glass.


      Saturday, July 13: The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra presents Schubert’s Great C Major Symphony

Artistic partner Richard Egarr returns to conduct Schubert’s monumental symphony, as well as music by Mozart and Ives.


      Saturday, August 3: MN Opera presents Albert Herring

MN Opera’s production of Benjamin Britten and Eric Crozier’s Albert Herring, tells the story of a boy who learns to break free of the societal expectations of small-town England.


      Saturday, August 17: The Ordway presents Sphinx Virtuosi - Generations

The Sphinx Virtuosi presents a program inspired by the poetry of Langston Hughes and Julia Alvarez.

I encourage you to tell those within your circle of influence to support all that Saint Paul has to offer. Joe and Emma do a fantastic job of keeping us apprised, so I invite everyone reading this to amplify these messages. Our success is truly interdependent, and it will take all of us playing our part to continue contributing to the vitality and vibrancy of downtown Saint Paul.

See you at the Ordway and around downtown soon! 


Chris Harrington is the president and CEO of the Ordway, a downtown resident and member of the Downtown Alliance Board of Directors.


Jim Miller: Abundant opportunities to build on the strengths of downtown Saint Paul

Downtown is not a museum. Rather, it is organic, growing and changing with evolving cultures of business and society.

The recent announcement of the sale of the Madison Equities portfolio of 10 downtown office buildings and the announced departure from downtown of a couple of tenants (US Bank and TKDA) has led to a concern that downtown is failing. Nationally, some downtowns are in what is described as a “doom loop,” a downward cycle in which declining employment leads to fewer bars and restaurants, which in turn leads to falling employment, etc.

The demand for office space downtown relative to the supply has declined over the last several decades, a trend that accelerated during the pandemic. The concern with the Madison Equities office buildings is not that they are for sale but their low occupancy. However, the low occupancy of these 10 older buildings is not reflective of the overall occupancy downtown. Tenants downtown have simply migrated from older to newer buildings.

Read more from the Pioneer Press

Bruce Corrie: We have a distinct opportunity in downtown Saint Paul

Let’s be more engaged about the future of Downtown Saint Paul!

The recent announcement about Madison Equities selling off a huge section of downtown Saint Paul, preferably to a single buyer, offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to redefine who we are as a city.

If there is one buyer of all these properties, then there may be a new and uncertain dynamic impacting the future of Saint Paul.

Read more from the Pioneer Press

Amtrak launches the Borealis, a second daily train between Saint Paul and Chicago

A one-way ticket to Red Wing runs as low as $7 - but no bicycles allowed (yet).

On Tuesday, following decades of advocacy and speculation by rail fans, a passenger train broke through the proverbial clouds and rolled into Ramsey County’s Union Depot transit hub in downtown Saint Paul, launching Amtrak’s Borealis service, a second daily round trip between Minnesota’s capital city and Chicago.

The midday train, which originates in Saint Paul at 11:50 a.m., will make the same stops as the daily Empire Builder between the Capital City and Milwaukee, and then mirror Amtrak’s Hiawatha service from Milwaukee to Chicago, arriving in the Windy City around 7:15 p.m., with tickets starting at $41 one-way.

Read more from the Pioneer Press

PWHL championship series: Minnesota 3, Boston 0 in Game 2

Nicole Hensley stopped all 20 shots she faced, and Minnesota handed Boston its first loss in the playoffs to even the best-of-five series.

Read more from the Star Tribune

Here's a glance at what's happening downtown this week.

A full look at what's coming up can be found on our event calendar. Check it out!

Downtown Improvement District Community Info Sessions

Join us to learn more about a new DID for all of Downtown!

Learn more about our effort to create a new Downtown Improvement District for 2025 that could cover all of downtown and includes both commercial AND residential properties as stakeholders and ratepayers.

Weds, May 29, 3 pm - Dark Horse , 250 7th St E

Fri, May 31, 11 am - Lost Fox, 213 4th St E

Fri, May 31, 4 pm - The Buttered Tin, 237 7th St E

Click here to learn more.

Construction season is underway and each week we'll provide updates on projects and road closures happening around downtown to ensure a smooth trip whether you’re coming for dinner, the farmer’s market, a show or work.

Closures and restrictions currently impacting downtown Saint Paul:

  • Smith Avenue: Lane restrictions between Kellogg Boulevard and 5th Street.
  • 7th Street: Reduced to one lane in each direction between Cedar and Jackson Streets.
  • 6th Street: Reduced to one lane between Minnesota and Jackson Streets and between Wabasha and Washington Streets.
  • Kellogg Boulevard and Wabasha Street intersection: No right turns allowed from northbound Wabasha Street onto eastbound Kellogg Boulevard.
  • Kellogg Boulevard: Reduced to one lane in each direction between St. Peter and Cedar Streets.
  • St. Peter Street: Lane restrictions between 7th Street and Kellogg Boulevard.
  • Minnesota Street: Lane restrictions between 11th and 6th Streets.
  • Sibley Street: Lane restrictions between 5th and 4th Streets.

Metro Transit Gold Line

  • Lane closures on 6th Street at Jackson and St Peter Streets are needed for station construction. Metro Transit is detouring buses traveling in downtown St. Paul on 6th Street to 7th Street. 
  • Intermittent lane closures on 5th and 6th Streets for station work.

NOTE: All construction activities and traffic impacts are weather and schedule permitting and subject to change.

Click this link to sign up for weekly updates directly from the City regarding all downtown road construction projects.

2023 Annual Report now available

As the Saint Paul Downtown Alliance celebrated its fifth anniversary in 2023, we are reflecting proudly on the remarkable resilience and growth our downtown has achieved in the face of collective challenges and change.

We're excited to present this year's annual report, including a timeline highlighting key milestones and achievements that shaped our journey. 

Download the full report here.

Are you following the Alliance on Facebook? What about Instagram?

Make sure you're following the Downtown Alliance on social media to stay up to date on all the latest downtown events and news. Plus, we do love giveaways, so you never know when you could end up with tickets, swag or other great downtown prizes. 



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