Top 10 events to see holiday lights, Christmas decorations across Minnesota

Holiday lights in Stillwater
The "Hometown for the Holidays" event in Stillwater.
Courtesy Pictures Over Stillwater

The Christmas season is here and, for those who celebrate, there are many events across Minnesota to get everyone in the holiday spirit.

Minnesotans are gearing up for one of the most festive seasons and although it might be cold out, organizations, towns and companies are making sure their holiday events have lots of options so people are still able to enjoy the Christmas cheer.

Sever’s drive-thru light show in Shakopee

“I love the idea of being able to put my four little kids in the car in their pajamas and go through this amazing light show then go home and put them to bed,” Nicola Peterson said. 

Peterson is a co-owner of Sever’s, a fourth-generation family farm that started in the 1890s in the Minnesota River valley. 

The farm, which refers to itself as “Minnesota’s Home For Family Fun Since 1997,” has hosted a holiday light festival featuring more than 2 million lights on their 100-acre grounds every holiday season since 2019.

“Everyone is looking for something different and there is something for everyone so whether you are 5 or 35 or 75, you will get enjoyment out of it,” Peterson said. 

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The holiday light festival is a 2 mile drive-thru light show that pulses to the beat of holiday music that plays through your car radio. Attendees are able to park, get out and take photos and grab bites and drinks from different vendors in an observation lot at the end. 

Tickets to the festival can be purchased on Sever’s website, seversfestivals.com. Tickets start at $25 per vehicle for Sundays through Thursdays and $40 per vehicle for Fridays and Saturdays. The event runs through Jan. 1.

Several events in scenic Stillwater

Discover Stillwater is holding events displaying Christmas cheer, attracting Minnesotans to visit Stillwater. 

“There are lots of exciting things happening and the town is lit up with lots of lights. The historic lift bridge is lit up, and the historic main street buildings are all outlined with lights so it is festive downtown,” said Jen McCormick, tourism specialist with Discover Stillwater. 

Stillwater decorated in holiday lights
Main Street in downtown Stillwater is decorated in lights for the holidays.
Courtesy Tom Wieland

Dec. 9 through 11 is Candy Town Weekend, where you can enjoy the Stillwater holiday sweets and treats while walking and experiencing the variety of holiday light decorations and listening to Victorian carolers. 

You can also experience the Gingerbread Building Contest that is a part of Candy Town Weekend from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, when community members put their arts skills to the test.

There are lots more Christmas events that are being held in Stillwater and those interested are able to view the calendar at events.discoverstillwater.com.

Winter Lights at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska

a plant lit with string lights for the holidays
Holiday lights at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska, Minn.
Mike Marcotte

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum hosts Winter Lights 2022 through Jan. 1, 2023. People must reserve their tickets to stroll through the arboretum gardens decked out in lights, and are able to purchase drinks and food like s’mores along the three-quarter-mile walk. 

Several arboretum buildings will also be open and decorated including one with a 25-foot-tall display made of poinsettias. On some nights there is live music. 

Tickets start at $10 for members and $25 for the general public and include parking or bus transit. Children 15 and younger are free most nights, but still require a ticket and $5 on certain nights. Find more information on arb.umn.edu/winterlights

GLOW Holiday Festival in St. Paul

A girl makes a silly face.
Lydia Murray, 7, of Mankato, Minn., makes a silly face as she poses for a photo while visiting the “Selfie Plaza” at the GLOW Holiday Festival Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020. She was there with the YMCA Brother Sister Program.
Aaron Lavinsky | Star Tribune

Featuring over 1 million lights, Selfie Plaza, Enchanted Forest and more attractions, the GLOW Holiday Festival is back for Minnesotans to enjoy. The festival is located at the CHS Field in the Lowertown neighborhood of Saint Paul, starting at 5 p.m. every night through Jan. 1.

Visitors are encouraged to reserve their tickets at glowholiday.com starting at $12.75 for children 4 through 12 years old and $20.75 for people 13 and older. Children 3 and younger can attend for free. 

Ice Castles in New Brighton 

a3722c-20170107-ice-castles-stillwater-03
Eight-year-old Lexi Raleigh, left, and 9-year-old Nora Tweed raced down the ice slide in the ice castle in January 2017. Evan Frost | MPR News
Collins, Bob

A must-see winter phenomenon starting Jan. 7, Ice Castles is open every day of the week except Tuesdays into March to serve Minnesotans. Located at the Long Lake Regional Park in New Brighton, there are six different castles made of ice and snow, including one featuring thousands of lights promising viewers a magical experience.

People are encouraged to purchase their tickets online at icecastles.com/minnesota starting at $11 for children 4 through 11 years old and $15 for people 12 and older on weekdays, and $15 for children and $22 for adults on weekends and holidays. Children three and younger can attend for free. 

Christmas in Color drive-thru light show in Shakopee

Christmas in Color — a family friendly drive-thru animated light show — allows cars to go through millions of lights synchronized to holiday music that plays through your car radio. 

Located at Valleyfair Amusement Park in Shakopee, you can purchase tickets at christmasincolor.net in advance starting at $35 per vehicle to reserve their spot. The event runs through Jan. 1. 

Illuminate Isanti

Illuminate Isanti is a new holiday lighting experience that takes participants on a stroll through a lighted winter wonderland on an adventure to find Santa Claus. This lighting experience runs Dec. 10 through 18 in Isanti. Visitors must purchase tickets starting at $5 for children 7 to 12 years old and $12 for people 13 and older, either through the webpage, Isanti Municipal Liquor Store or City Hall.

Miracle at Big Rock in St. Croix Falls, Wis.

OK, this one isn’t in Minnesota, but it’s right across the border. Miracle at Big Rock promises visitors a time of family fun with lots of activities from Christmas lights to food trucks, artisans and many more.

There is a drive-thru option priced at $12 per person and a walk-thru option priced at $15 for children 4 through 12 years old and $20 for people 13 and older. Those who want to visit should reserve tickets in advance at miracleatbigrock.com, as a higher rate of $25 will be charged at the site. Children 3 and younger can attend for free. The event runs through Jan. 1.

Bentleyville ‘Tour of Lights’ in Duluth

The entrance
A display greets visitors as they enter and depart Bentleyville USA Tuesday, December 16, 2014 in Duluth. On average, over 200,000 people visit what is called America's largest free walk-through lighting display according to Bentleyville officials.
Derek Montgomery for MPR News file

Bentleyville “Tour of Lights” at the Bayfront Festival Park on the shores of Lake Superior features a walk-through of 5 million lights with stops along the way for guests to do so many things from seeing Santa Claus to buying popcorn and cookies.

Admission is free for everyone, but parking is priced at $10 per vehicle. The event runs through Dec. 26. More information at bentleyvilleusa.org.

Holidazzle market in Minneapolis

Aiming for a community holiday feeling, Holidazzle in Loring Park features interactive light art exhibits, local foods, beverages and more on Fridays through Sundays through Dec 18.

You can show up for free and parking information is available at holidazzle.com.