Arts and Culture in Rochester, MN

By AJ Donahue on January 3, 2016 at 5:57 pm EST
Rochester Symphony Orchestra & Chorale in Rochester, MN

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo courtesy of Post-Bulletin LLC

Rochester's cultural attractions include a mix of events combined with local art and history that create a thriving environment for artists and residents.

Event Center

Mayo Clinic's Civic Center hosts large events throughout the year, and in 2017, visitors can expect even more due to a $79 million expansion underway. The final results will double the space to 200,000 square feet and add a grand ballroom, 16 meeting rooms and prefunction space. Surrounded by the Mayo Park, the center is also a prime spot for outdoor events.


Tour the recently renovated Mayowood Mansion, browse exhibits, or join an adult scavenger hunt at the History Center of Olmsted County. The center features artifacts, furniture, medical equipment and art, and hosts educational and local events for the community.

Experience what life was like in Rochester 140 years ago at Heritage House Victorian Museum located within a beautifully preserved Italianate home, which was relocated to Central Park in 1972. The community pays respect to its local veterans at the Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial.


Rochester’s music scene is a feast for the ears, thanks to performances by the Rochester Symphony Orchestra & Chorale and the Honors Choirs of Southeast Minnesota, among the most notable local music organizations.

Special Events

In Rochester, summers include arts, crafts, food and live music at the monthly Thursdays on First & 3rd Summer Market and Music festivals, as well as the Rochester Civic Theatre's Civic Live patio music series. There’s also live music at the Rochester Civic Music-Riverside Concerts, including the popular Down by the Riverside series. WinterFest, a two-week,   festival held every February, is a must-attend event. And don't miss SocialICE, an outdoor ice bar, where people gather  and listen to live music. Kids will enjoy their own activities and ice-carving demonstrations.

Theater and Dance

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

Visual Arts

Connoisseurs of fine art can’t miss the Rochester Art Center, a dazzling collection of contemporary exhibits and experiences housed in a breathtaking building. Those looking for locally created art shouldn't miss the SEMVA Art Gallery, conveniently located in Peace Plaza downtown. The gallery carries a wide selection of reasonably priced works that make excellent one-of-a-kind gifts or additions to personal collections.

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.


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