Here’s a roundup of 2017 holiday light displays around Minnesota. Know of one I’m missing? Let me know by filling out the contact form at the bottom of this page. I have personally confirmed these shows are happening in 2017; be wary of other websites!
I was on KSTP-TV’s Twin Cities Live to share some of these light display picks. Check out the video!
The University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering (CSE) will premiere a student-designed 3D outdoor light show starting at 5:00 p.m. on December 1. It features 250,000 LED lights (!!!) set to music. Coolest part: much of the show is designed, sequenced, composed and performed by U of M students. The December 1 premiere includes a party inside Rapson Hall on campus. Free hot chocolate and cookies will be served. The show lasts about 20 minutes and repeats at 6:00 and 6:30 p.m. They’ll also run the light show on December 2, 7, 8 and 9.
The Capital City’s holiday tree in Rice Park adorns 15,000 LED lights and stays lit nightly through the holiday season. It’s free to check it out. Make sure to visit Wells Fargo WinterSkate across the street. Learn more.
A few years ago, I met the households behind what’s nearly a full city block of holiday light displays in Saint Paul. Holiday Lights on York Avenue even has its own website. The light show is set to music, and you’ll be able to listen to it from the radio in your car. It boasts more than 60,000 lights across 10 yards. The show starts on Friday, November 24 and runs through New Years Eve. You can see it lit up nightly from 5:00 – 10:00 p.m. Bring a non-perishable food donation for Merrick Community Services, a non-profit serving the east side of Saint Paul since 1908. To find Holiday Lights on York Avenue, have your GPS take you to 1526 York Avenue, Saint Paul 55106.
Head to 2342 145th Avenue Northwest in Andover to see the display put up by the Cairl family. It runs Sundays – Thursdays from 5:00 – 9:30 p.m. and Fridays – Saturdays from 5:00 – 10:30 p.m. The show is synchronized to music you’ll be able to listen to from your car.
Set your radio to 107.5 FM when driving by this home in Andover. It’ll be lit up from 5:30 – 10:00 p.m. nightly December 13 through New Years Eve. You’ll find it located at 3715 152nd Lane Northwest.
The Anoka County Fairgrounds host a free Holiday in Lights celebration December 8 through the 10. There will be hayrides, live music and an appearance by Santa and his blushing bride, Mrs. Claus. It’s free to attend.
The SnoMutt Lights Holiday Show kicks of December 8th in Chaska. You’ll see the synchronized show from 6:30 – 9:00 p.m. Sundays – Thursdays and 6:30 – 10:00 p.m. Fridays – Saturdays. It’ll stay lit through December 31. Find it at 1913 Waterford Circle in Chaska.
A handful of homes and businesses in Cloquet are participating in A Sweet Event’s Christmas Lighting Challenge. Click here to see a list of placess all lit up, along with how you can vote for the best display.
Claiming to be “America’s Largest Free Walk Through Lighting Display,” Bentleyville in Duluth is the real deal. They have a “crowd-o-meter” on their website to determine which nights are the most crowded, Santa makes frequent appearances, and they even hand out free knit hats to kids 10 and younger. Organizers say about 30 minutes is a good amount of time to walk through the light display, and if you want a photo with jolly old Saint Nick, set aside at least an hour. The key is to dress warm, as winds coming off of Lake Superior can be nasty. Bentleyville is 501(c)(3) non-profit and accepts tax-deductible contributions. You’ll find it at Bayfront Festival Park — 700 Railroad Street — in Duluth. It’s open through December 26, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Jon Jacobs told me about the holiday sound and light show on Exhibition Drive in Duluth. Their Facebook page says they’ve won holiday light contests in Duluth every year since 2012. Their show features 36 channels of lights choreographed to holiday music that you’ll be able to hear from your car’s radio. See it twinkle through New Years Eve from 5:00 – 10:00 p.m. Sundays – Thursdays and 5:00 — 11:00 p.m. Fridays – Saturdays.
Peter from A Sweet Event messaged me with a great resource for those looking for lights up north. Every year, they host a Christmas Lighting Challenge and in 2017, have around 50 homes and businesses participating in Duluth, Superior, Two Harbors and Cloquet. Check it out.
The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train rolls into the CP Depot at 500 East Second Street at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, December 8. A program with live music will begin at 8:45 p.m. The event is free; attendees are asked to bring non-perishable food donations. Learn more.
Over 100,000 LED lights are choreographed to music you can listen to from your car in Lake Elmo. Valley Lights at Rockpoint Church runs 5:00 – 10:00 p.m. nightly through December 31. Free wagon rides will be offered December 1, 2, 8, 9, 15 and 16 from 6:00 – 10:00 p.m. Rockpoint Church is at 5825 Kelvin Avenue North in Lake Elmo.
The Kiwanis put on a light show you can walk or drive through at Sibley Park in Mankato. It features over 1.5 million LED lights, a skating rink with warming house and special daily events. You can check it out Sundays – Thursdays from 5:00 – 9:00 p.m. and Fridays – Saturdays from 5:00 – 10:00 p.m. through December 31. Friday, December 15 is a great night to visit; you can check out ice sculptures, hope on a horse-drawn wagon ride and visit with Santa and his reindeer. Kiwanis Holiday Lights is free. Thanks to Kathy Gelhaye for the suggestion!
The owner of this display has shut it down, citing loud party buses and visitors. More from KSTP. Trista Lights is run by Ryan Kasper-Cook, and this guy means business. Seriously, he owns a lighting business. Just take a look at this video of what he’s doing out in the west metro. He also works with the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska to produce their light show. They were actually featured on ABC’s “The Great Christmas Light Fight” (click here to watch part of that). Head to 4386 Trista Road in Minnetrista to check it out; it runs from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. Sundays – Thursdays and from 6:00 – 10:00 p.m. Fridays – Saturdays. The 12-minute show runs every half hour.
The Larson family creates a light show synchronized to music that runs past New Years Day. You’ll see the 100,000 plus lights in action from 4:30 – 10:00 p.m. weeknights and 4:30 – 11:00 p.m. on the weekends. Outdoor speakers will play the music until 9:00 p.m.; you can also hear it on their radio station, “The Sled.” It’s at 3549 Ensign Avenue North, New Hope.
The Fischer family in Plymouth says they have “somewhere around 40,000 lights” in their display. It’s computer-controlled and is set to music you’ll be able to listen to through your car’s radio. You’ll be able to see it from December 1-31 with the exception of Christmas Eve. Check out their elaborate website — it unveils the curtain on how they get their yard set up each year. Their display is at 16700 33rd Avenue North in Plymouth.
The PD Shimmers display in Plymouth is designed and built by those living with Parkinson’s disease. In 2017, 60,000 Americans will be diagnosed with Parkinson’s, so the PD Shimmers display will feature 60,000 lights this year. On their website, you can dedicate one of their lights to someone you know with Parkinson’s. The display is along Ithaca Lane; head to 4320 Ithaca Lane North, Plymouth. It is lit nightly from 5:00 – 10:00 p.m. starting November 24 and lasting through Christmas.
Originally known as the Gingerbread House, the display at 7039 Third Avenue South in Richfield is back. They’re also known to set up quite the display for Halloween as well.
There’s a winter wonderland happening in Shakopee! Check out this light display at 921 Shakopee Avenue East in Shakopee. Lights will be on each night through New Years Day. Between December 15 and Christmas Eve, they’ll have crafts, treats hot cocoa and visits from Santa beginning at 6:00 p.m.
Holiday Lights in Motion runs through New Years at Sportsmans Park in Sleepy Eye. Select nights will offer free horse and carriage rides along with a freewill concession stand. You’re able to drive or walk through the exhibits, which are all made of LED lights. It’s open nightly from 5:00 – 10:00 p.m. Thanks to Cindy LaBrie for suggesting this spot!
Homes and businesses in Two Harbors (along with Duluth, Cloquet and Superior, WI) are participating in A Sweet Event’s 2017 Christmas Lighting Challenge. Find an interactive with places participating here.
This is the event to take the place of Holiday Lights in the Park in Saint Paul. The Winery at Sovereign Estate in Waconia hosts the Spirit of Winter, a light show featuring over eight miles of lights over 10 acres, with animated displays set to synchronized music. Although it’s at a winery, all ages are welcome. And since it’s at a winery, their wine shop will be open for adults to buy a glass or bottle (no tastings). Cider, hot chocolate, cookies and more will be sold, too. Tickets are only $10 for adults and $5 for kids ages 3 to 12. They must be purchased in advance online. The Spirit of Winter runs through Saturday, December 30 (closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) and is open again Thursday, January 25 through Saturday, February 3. It runs from 4:30 – 8:00 p.m.
White Bear Lake
Since publishing this article, multiple people have reached out to me about a White Bear Lake display on the shores of Bald Eagle Lake. It looked as though 2016 was going to be last year of the light display at 5590 West Bald Eagle Boulevard. Well, they couldn’t resist. It’s scaled back slightly, but you’ll still be amazed. Take a look at this YouTube video to see for yourself. It’s lit from 4:30 p.m. – midnight every day through the first week of January. Don’t let the Facebook page “Our Last Holiday Light Show” fool you.
Celebrate the Light of the World is entering its 10th and final year in Willmar. The display is a fundraiser for the Salvation Army. You can see it run nightly from 4:30 – 11:00 p.m. until January 7, including all night on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. This is unique — organizers host drive-in movies; see “ELF” on December 1, “Alvin and the Chipmunks” on December 2. The December 2 celebration also has a fireworks show. Santa will stop by on Saturday, December 9; a professional photographer will be there to snap free pictures of you and Father Christmas (donations will taken for the Salvation Army of Willmar).
You know a family’s light show is legit when it has sponsors. After taking a few years off, MNlightshow is back again this year in Woodbury. The show is synchronized to music you’ll be able to listen to from your car radio. The homeowners are collecting non-perishable food donations for Christian Cupboard Emergency Food Shelf (look for the bin at the end of their driveway). You’ll see it lit up Sundays – Thursdays from 5:00 – 10:00 p.m. and Fridays – Saturdays from 5:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. The address: 891 Winterberry Drive, Woodbury.