(LAST UPDATED: January 1, 2021 – List now contains 20 events, 9 of which are FREE! I’ve
crossed out the ones with dates that have ended.)
The weather is getting chillier and now that daylight savings time has ended, it gets dark earlier, so what does that mean?
The holiday season is almost here!
(I know that in part because my kids are already asking me if we can put up the Christmas tree…)
And thinking of the holiday season, one thing we LOVE is holiday light displays!
But COVID-19 is sticking around, so seeing holiday lights are a little different this year. One way they are different is that there are several drive thru light displays in the state!
Here are some that I’ve found – if I find more I’ll add them to the list!
NEW FREE PRINTABLES!
This list has been so popular that I’ve created a FREE printable 6-page Christmas Road Trip Activity Set that includes a scavenger hunt and other activities for kids to do while you’re driving around looking at Christmas lights!
Sign up here to get the set PLUS my FREE Christmas Sanity Saver Pack! You’ll be subscribed to my weekly email newsletter for MORE freebies and deals and you can unsubscribe anytime.
(Note: Be sure to check each event before you go in case there are any changes or cancellations.)
Celebrate the Light of the World – Willmar (FREE – donations requested)
November 26 – January 1
5:00pm – 10:00pm each night
Willmar is about 1 hour west of the Twin Cities, on highway 12.
Celebrate the Light of the World kicks off Thanksgiving Night – Thursday, November 26th!! The show will run every night from 5:00pm – 10:00pm from November 26th through January 1st, 2021!
Christmas Drive-Thru Experience at Freshwater – St. Bonifacius (FREE)
5:00 – 7:00pm
St. Boni is located west of Minnetonka and Chanhassen.
This is a free, family-fun event that is located outside of the Freshwater St. Boni Church Campus. There will be a drive-thru Christmas light display, hot cocoa, cider, bonfires, food trucks, and you can have your picture taken with real-life llamas!
Christmas Lights Drive-Thru – Bloomington and Excelsior (FREE)
December 4 – 5 and December 11- 12
5:30 – 8:30pm each of those nights
Christmas Lights Drive-Thru is a free, family event outside the Westwood Chanhassen Campus. It features lighted displays, live animals, treats, and more! Come experience the Christmas story in a brand-new way!
The Christmas Story in Lights – Wayzata (FREE; donations requested)
Wayzata Community Church
Thursdays to Sundays, December 3 – 27
Throughout the month of December, we invite you into a new drive-through experience at Wayzata Community Church: The Christmas Story in Lights. As you drive through the WCC grounds, you will be invited to pause at 8 stations, each one sharing the Christmas story in bright lights, music, and narration, starting with the Angel visiting Mary, to the Three Kings traveling to our newborn King in a humble manger.
A free-will offering will be taken at the end of the experience to benefit our Christmas Offering recipient, Community Emergency Service (CES).
Thursday, December 3 – Sunday, December 6, 6:00-9:00 p.m.
Thursday, December 10 – Sunday December 13, 6:00-9:00 p.m.
Thursday, December 17 – Sunday, December 27, 6:00-9:00 p.m.
Christmas Together (Live Nativity Drive-Thru) – Bloomington (FREE)
St. Michael’s Lutheran Church
December 4 -5 only
6:00pm – 8:00pm
Come and experience this live Christmas production from the comfort of your own vehicle. We invite you to kick off the holiday season with an outdoor program of the Christmas story. Take your family and friends on a drive-thru experience and enjoy an evening of music, lights, kids giveaways, treats, and live animals as we take you through the story of Christmas.
Drive-Through Christmas in the Village – Farmington (FREE – donations accepted)
Dakota City Heritage Village
Dec. 5, 6, 12 and 13, 2020
Hours: 1:00 pm to 8:00 pm – Saturday & Sunday
If you like an old-fashioned Christmas, this is the event not to miss! It’s the first 2 weekends in December, and it’s FREE!
Dakota City Heritage Village will be bringing cheer to all ages this holiday season with a light-up drive-thru event. The socially-distanced event will be free (monetary donations accepted) to the public and feature holiday displays in front of some buildings. Some displays will hark back to Christmas in the 1900s while others will use Christmas decorations of today! Bring your family to see the holiday decorations from the warmth of your car. Listen to your own holiday music mix from your radio or other music source. Wave to Saint Nick in his sleigh at the depot (in bad weather he might be in the doorway of the depot!). Write your letter to Saint Nick at home and bring it, along with a stamped, self-addressed envelope (not sealed!), to mail at the box outside our Post Office, and St. Nick will send you a reply! The Christmas In The Village event will be open December 5, 6, 12 & 13, from 1pm-8pm. No tickets needed to enter. To keep everyone safe and comply with the covid guidelines, Dakota City encourages one family/household per vehicle, keep your windows rolled up, and space between vehicles. Keep your loved ones healthy as you enjoy this season!
Holiday Lights on York Avenue – St. Paul (FREE)
November 27 – December 31
5:00pm – 10:00pm each night
This is a big light display on a residential block that you can drive through in St. Paul. Their lights start on Friday, November 27th!
Check their website for updates.
Light the Way – A Drive-Through Christmas Experience – Maple Grove (FREE)
Lord of Life Lutheran Church
5:00pm – 9:00pm each day
Enter into a new Christmas experience at Lord of Life with Light the Way. We know this winter is unique, so the Lord of Life parking lot will be transformed into a beautiful light display that can be enjoyed safely from your car. Drive through eight stations artfully depicting the story of Jesus’ birth, and listen to an audio guide that shares how the Christmas story is more meaningful than ever. Children can keep an eye out for a special hidden symbol in each station. Open in evenings throughout December, Light the Way will be an experience you’ll want to revisit throughout the season of Advent.
Valley Lights – Lake Elmo (FREE)
November 25th – December 31st, 2020
5:30pm – 10:00pm
They have announced (here on Facebook) that they are having their light display in 2020!
100,000 LED lights choreographed to music you can listen to from your car. Come out and enjoy this spectacular Christmas display! Valley Lights is open to all and is an awesome opportunity for you to invite your family, friends, and neighbors. Who doesn’t love a great light show during Christmas time? The best part is: it’s totally free!
Bentleyville Tour of Lights Drive Thru – Duluth
November 21 – December 27, 2020
Sun – Thurs 5:00pm – 9:00pm, Fri to Sat 5:00pm – 10:00pm
We’ve loved visiting Duluth and walking through Bentleyville throughout the years, but this year it’s going to be a drive thru experience!
Here we are visiting a previous year:
I have heard this has been a busy drive-thru event! They advise visiting on a weekday if you live in the northland as weekends are very busy and popular for out-of-towners.
Tickets are $10 per vehicle at the gate. No presales.
Christmas in Color Drive-Thru – Shakopee
November 27th, 2020 – January 3rd, 2021
Sun to Thurs 5:30pm – 10:00pm, Fri to Sat 5:30pm – 10:30pm
A NEW holiday attraction has come to Valleyfair, and you can enjoy it from the safety of your car!
It’s called Christmas in Color, and it’s a mile-long, drive-through light and music display. It will be in Valleyfair’s massive parking lot, and tickets are on sale now!
Congrats to Jessica D, winner of my ticket giveaway!
Tickets and Discount
Cost for Christmas in Color in Shakopee is $30 per vehicle but use my discount code FRUGALMOM to save 15%!
Plus we visited on opening night!
GLOW Holiday Festival Drive Thru Light Experience – St. Paul
Minnesota State Fairgrounds
November 19, 2020 – January 3, 2021
Entry times are between 4:30pm and 10:00pm each night (every 15 min)
An all-new experience, the GLOW Holiday Festival is at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds for 46 consecutive nights from November 19th, 2020 to January 3rd, 2021!
We went and enjoyed it! Read our review of our visit when it opened!
Here’s a map of the drive:
The Great Minnesota Holiday Get-Together is a one-mile drive-thru with 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 plus applicable fees per vehicle. The whole drive takes about 40 minutes.
You can also purchase fair food at the end from your vehicle!
Lights at Bluff Valley – Zumbro Falls
November 6 – December 20
5:00pm – 10:00pm
Zumbro Falls is about 1 hour southeast of the Twin Cities and just north of Rochester.
This 1.5-mile drive-through light tour features themed areas with over 450 light displays abd over 200 animated displays, plus a walk through Light Maze.
Cost is $20 per car! Watch their Facebook page for updates and possibly specials.
Nature Illuminated – Apple Valley
Open most dates from December 3 – January 17
Sun to Thurs 5:00pm – 9:00pm, Fri to Sat 5:00pm – 11:00pm
The Minnesota Zoo has created a magical world to drive through this holiday season. It’s called Nature Iluuminated, and it features stunning light work and larger-than-life animal art installations. It’s a world of art, awe and light that you can enjoy in your car. Not exactly a holiday event, but a lights drive-thru nonetheless that sounds like it will be a hit. Not cheap though – tickets are $50 – $60 for nonmembers, depending on the day of the week (rates are $25 – $35 for members). Still, you’re supporting a good cause – the nonprofit Minnesota Zoo.
Sever’s Holiday Lights – Shakopee, MN
November 26th, 2020 – January 3rd, 2021
Sun – Thurs 5:00pm – 9:00pm, Fri to Sat 5:00pm – 10:00pm
This is a magical drive-through display of over 1,000,000 lights, all synchronized to festive music!
Vehicles can go through as many times as they’d like and there is about 40 minutes of music programming total.
We went and here’s a review of our visit with a video! Each car gets a goodie bag and I show what’s inside!
Sunday-Thursday 5:00pm – 9:00pm
Friday-Saturday 5:00pm – 10:00pm
Tickets: $7 – 40.
Tickets are $7 per person with a maximum charge per vehicle of $25 (+ sales tax). 3 people would be $21 (+ sales tax), 4 people would be $25 (+ sales tax), and 5 people would still be $25 (+ sales tax) because of the maximum charge of $25. Large vehicles of 8 or more people is $40 (+ sales tax).
Sertoma Winter Wonderland – Brainerd
November 26 – December 31
Most nights, 5:30 – 8:30pm (check their schedule)
The Brainerd Area Sertoma Club presents this annual winter wonderland drive-thru experience!
General admission is $15 per vehicle. $10 per vehicle in advance. $25 for small buses and limos.
Advance tickets are available at Cub and other locations in the area.
Sleepy Eye Holiday Lights in Motion – Sleepy Eye
Thanksgiving through New Year’s
5:00pm – 10:00pm
Sleepy Eye is about 2 hours southwest of the Twin Cities.
This year you can drive thru or walk thru the event. Masks are required.
Nightly from 5:00 – 10:00pm.
No ticket pricing info listed – check their website for any updates.
The Spirit of Winter – Waconia
The Winery at Sovereign Estate
November 17 – January 2
Times start at 4:30pm each night
A drive-thru light show at a WINERY? Yes, please!
The cost is $7.50 per person (Ages 5 and under are free). Each vehicle gets a $5 off a wine purchase coupon.
So yes – you can buy wine and gifts from your car!
Their gift shop is normally open 12 – 4pm but you can purchase items during the light show event.
Admission must be purchased in advance online.
Other Light Displays
Sam’s Christmas Village & Light Tour – Somerset, Wisconsin
November 27, 2020 – January 2, 2021
Sun to Thurs, 5:00pm – 9:00pm, and Fri & Sat, 5:00pm – 10:00pm
I included this here separately as it’s in Wisconsin, but it’s open and alternates drive-through nights with walk-through nights. Families have been loving it!
Cost is $12 for adults, $10 for kids ages 4 – 10, free for kids 3 and under, and 1/2 off with military ID!
Winter in Bloom – Chaska
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
November 19, 2020 – January 17, 2021
Not a drive-thru experience, but a walk-through experience.
Experience the magic of Winter Lights 2020: Winter in Bloom. Dress for the wintery weather and stroll through your favorite botanical-themed light displays from the past and some new ones that are sure to become favorites.
They extended this from January 3rd to January 17th, so more tickets are available but limited!
Kiwanis Holiday Lights in Mankato will not be held in 2020 due to COVID-19.
Are there other light displays you know of that should be added to this list?