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Rochester, MN Arts and Culture

Robust arts and culture scene adds to city’s quality of life

By AJ Donahue on January 3, 2016

Rochester Symphony Orchestra & Chorale in Rochester, MN
Photo courtesy of Post-Bulletin LLC

Creativity and entertainment are two of the many appealing characteristics that highlight the arts and culture scene in Rochester, where a thriving environment is in place for artists, residents and tourists.

Visual Arts

Fine art is displayed in abundance at Rochester Art Center, where contemporary exhibits are housed in an eye-pleasing building. Meanwhile, natural art fans should check out James Krom Natural Images, a downtown gallery that showcases Krom’s drawings, paintings and portraits as well as jewelry, books, sculptures and more by other artists.

Live Music

In Rochester, there is never a shortage of live music events and venues. Highlights include a monthly Thursdays on First & 3rd Summer Market and Music Festival, the Rochester Civic Theatre’s Civic Live patio music series, and an Americana Showcase that celebrates the rich musical heritage of the American Midwest. There is also live music at Rochester Civic Music-Riverside Concerts, including a popular Down by the Riverside series.

WinterFest is a two-week concert festival held every February, and don’t miss SocialICE that features outdoor ice bars where people gather in February and listen to live music. Other highlights include Honors Choirs of Southeast Minnesota and live music destinations like Charlie’s Eatery & Pub, Doggery, Forager and Kathy’s Pub.

Theater and Dance

Rochester certainly has no shortage of shows, with regular productions by Hill Theatre at Rochester Community and Technical College, Rochester Civic Theatre and Words Players Theatre. If you’d rather learn to dance than watch, take a class at Allegro School of Dance and Music, Dahl Dance Center, Fred Astaire Dance Studio and Tippi Toes Dance Company.


Tour the recently renovated Mayowood Mansion and then browse exhibits at the History Center of Olmsted County. The center, which features artifacts, furniture, medical equipment and art, hosts educational and local events for the community.

Experience what life was like in Rochester 140 years ago at Heritage House Victorian Museum, located in a beautifully preserved Italianate home in Central Park downtown. The community pays respect to its local veterans at the Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial.

Event Center

Mayo Civic Center hosts large events throughout the year, and in 2017 visitors can expect even more because of an $80 million expansion. The final results will double the space to 200,000 square feet and add a grand ballroom, 16 meeting rooms and multi-function spaces. Surrounded by Mayo Park, the center is also a prime spot for outdoor events.

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