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Art Education Students Create a Gingerbread City

Anabelle Putz sets up the gingerbread village.
December 2, 2020

Celebrating National Gingerbread House Day in downtown Duluth.

This year, UMD students have helped create a special event at businesses in downtown Duluth. They been busy with preparations for a walk-by Duluth Gingerbread Village walking tour that starts on Saturday, December 12, National Gingerbread House Day. 

Natalie Beaupre

Natalie Beaupre

Anabelle Putz (shown above), Karley Graves, Natalie Beaupre, and other UMD art education students, first decorated the Nordic Center, the sponsor and one of the participating businesses on the tour.

With the front door open for fresh air, and wearing masks, the young women set up the Nordic Center storefront display. Beaupre climbed a 12-foot ladder and hung lights and glowing star-shaped decorations from the ceiling. Putz and Graves arranged the gingerbread houses, which were contributed by area grade-school children for the Nordic Center display.

Graves said she thought it was super fun. "We walked into a blank space and made it into something super magical," she says.  "It's special because, even though we are taking precautions because of COVID, the Gingerbread City is still bringing people together, which is an amazing power of art."

Walking and Video Tours

Everyone is invited to stroll downtown Duluth to see Gingerbread Houses at participating businesses. window displayThe sites include Zeitgeist Center for Arts and Community (222 E. Superior Street), the Joseph Nease Gallery (23 W. 1st Street), Lizzards Gallery (3 W. Superior Street), and the Nordic Center (23 N. Lake Avenue), and others. The displays for all of the businesses can be viewed from December 12, 2020 through January 2, 2021.

The Nordic Center was ready for walk-by viewing on Friday, November 20. The Nordic Center's Gingerbread City display is called Pepperkakebyen, which is pronounced: pepper-cah-kuh-BEE-in. See their website and video.

This year, 2020, will be the first time the Pepperkakebyen Gingerbread City at the Nordic Center will be limited to walk-by viewing.

Karley Graves

Karley Graves

Alison Aune, UMD art education professor and Nordic Center board member, says, "In spite of COVID19 affecting how we celebrate, we are proceeding with the creative adaptations and even more enthusiasm." Another new feature this year is a virtual tour of the village, with an online video opening on November 20, 2020 at 7pm. the Nordic Center.


The Duluth Pepperkakebyen Gingerbread City started in 2011 when Son’s of Norway member and Norwegian native, Bente Soderlind, brought the idea from Norway to Duluth. Her plan was to create a smaller Duluth version of Bergen, Norway’s Pepperkakebyen (Gingerbread City), the largest in the world! Since 2011, the Nordic Center of Duluth and Son’s of Norway Nortun Lodge have held a multi-day open house to celebrate. This year, in 2020, the 9th Annual Pepperkakebyen Gingerbread City of Duluth continues the tradition by offering a window display and a walking tour.

About the UMD BFA in Art Education