After hearing that Governor Walz has announced new COVID restrictions for the next month, we weren’t surprised, but certainly could use a bit of cheering up. It’s been a tough year for everyone.
But not everything is closed! There are many drive-thru holiday lights events this season, and we got a sneak peek at the all-new GLOW Holiday Festival which is at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds from November 19th, 2020 to January 3rd, 2021!
It definitely cheered us all up, and we got to enjoy it from the warm comfort of our car!
As I posted last month, GLOW is a one-mile drive-thru that has a dozen seasonal scenes. There are over a million holiday lights, a 100-foot illuminated tree, icicle and art installations, a festive gingerbread house, and other attractions.
Tickets are $46 per vehicle, and must be purchased in advance, as only 45 cars are allowed per time slot.
When you enter, Santa greets you with candy canes, and you line up with others that have tickets for your same time slot.
This is something I liked – a limit of 45 cars kept the waiting to a minimum, unlike the Dinosaur Drive-Thru here this summer.
So yes, yay – at GLOW, the traffic kept moving!
We were guided along by someone on a golf cart for parts of it, where we enjoyed music and lights on both sides.
Then our cars were gathered in small groups to watch light shows like this one on a building. There was also a Prince/Paisley Park-themed light show. Both were pretty cool!
One bonus – I liked seeing familiar parts of the fair decorated for the holidays!
Here is the Kemps Little Farm Hands area all lit up!
The whole drive-thru took about 30-40 minutes, and we saw a house decorated like a gingerbread house, plus animal light displays and a tall tree (though not as tall as at Bentleyville in Duluth).
Food trucks, shopping and photo opps!
UPDATE 11/20/20: Since we visited, GLOW changed their safety restrictions so now you can’t get out of your car at the end. You can purchase food at the end from your car instead. I’ve kept my review intact though to reflect our actual experience.
At the end, you could park your car (IF you wanted to) and walk around an area where you could buy food from fair food trucks (yay!), gifts from a gift shop and take pictures at various photo/selfie stations.
There were several food trucks but not all were open when we were there. I found out that they will be alternating days. They included Pizza, Salted nut rolls, Anchor Coffee House, Cheese Curds and Pronto Pups!
We got some pizza, cheese curds and mini donuts. It wasn’t cheap, but is fair food ever cheap?
The pizza was $4 per slice, the cheese curds were $7 and mini donuts were $6.
It was about 50 degrees out when we were there so it wasn’t bad out, but the hot food warmed us up nonetheless.
We couldn’t resist the photo opportunities! These were only a few of what they offered.
Of course, masks were required – we briefly pulled ours down for the pics but wore them throughout.
We enjoyed our visit, for sure. It was cheerful, well-organized, and had a good amount of variety. I saw many younger kids there enjoying it but it’s certainly for all ages.
Is it worth $46? I think this year, with so much cancelled, what is there to spend money on for entertainment? People can’t go to shows or events like they do every year, so $46 for something that you CAN do is worth it. Plus, the $46 covers your vehicle, so you can bring whoever you want.
Plus – you can enjoy FAIR FOOD and more at the end! (Though the food costs extra, of course.)
Update 11/20/20: Again – you can now no longer get out of your car at the end. Now with this update, I feel it’s still an enjoyable experience but you don’t get as much out of it. I do feel $46 is a lot to pay for your vehicle, but again, there aren’t many COVID-safe events happening so if you want to get out of your house, this is a great way to do so.
Here are more details!
Highlights of GLOW Holiday Festival will include:
- The Grand Opening – a gigantic illuminated gift box
- GLOW Disco Party – a radiant disco light show
- Charity Flame & Art Park – putting a spotlight on community charities and local artists
- Tinsel Tower – a festive story projected onto a notable Fairgrounds building
- Purple Lane – a Tribute to Prince
- Glitter Critters & Lil’ Farmstead – lighted woodland and farm creatures
- Arctic Circle – featuring 200 icicles and a 100-foot illuminated tree
- Other stops include the Wagon Wheel Stage, Gingerbread House, and Peppermint Tower
- A surprise GLOW finale
- sELFie Plaza – an optional photo opportunity, perfect for holiday photo posing!
- State Fair Food Court – a chance to purchase some of your favorite Fair foods (optional)
GLOW Gives Back
Minnesota’s GLOW will also honor and celebrate many diverse traditions and cultures of Minnesota. There will be several special nights, including Amity Night, Hanukkah Night, Indigenous Peoples Night, and Kwanzaa Night, to name a few.
Each night benefits a community charity, and some charities will receive $2 from each ticket on their designated night. Charities include:
- Second Harvest Heartland
- Urban Ventures
- Outfront Minnesota
- Angel Foundation
- Autism Society of Minnesota
- Emma Norton Services
- National Independent Venue Association
- and More!
Visit their website for more info!