2023 Twin Cities Drive Thru Christmas Lights, Walking Tours & Holiday Events

Christmas Tree

Ready for a little Christmas magic for the whole family? For 2023, we have updated our list of drive-through light shows and Christmas events that can be enjoyed from the comfort of your own car. We’ve also included outdoor events where you can travel on foot through dazzling lights, sip warm beverages around a campfire, maybe even meet up with Santa. Many of these colorful displays of outdoor lights are free and if they have a cost, it usually covers the entire car. We note all this information in the entry.

Drive-thru Christmas light shows, walking tours & more holiday events

Minneapolis & St Paul events

Union Depot Hub for the Holidays

214 4th Street East, St Paul MN
There’s a whole lot of holiday cheer chugging its way into the historic station this year: a pair of magical trains (one you can ride and one you can admire), a charming European-style Christmas market with dozens of vendors to browse, a towering holiday tree with its own lighting festivals and plenty of fun family events populating the schedule. November 24-December 17, 2023. FREE admission, tickets for the North Pole Express are for purchase and sell out quickly.)

Union Depot holiday tree

Holidays on Nicollet

Nicollet Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55402
Take a walk down Nicollet to see ten different decorated window storefronts. You can also visit or window shop ten “Holidays on Nicollet” pop-up shops in the skyway, Tuesdays-Saturdays from 11am-6pm. November 24, 2023- January 5, 2024.

Schultz Family Lights/Holiday Lights on York

1526 York Ave, St. Paul MN
Comprised of 9 family homes on both sides of the street dancing to holiday favorites you can listen to on your car radio. Synchronized to 91.5. Collecting food shelf donations for the holiday season (also Halloween). Thanksgiving Weekend through December 31st, 5-10pm.

Holiday Lights on York

GLOW Holiday Festival

CHS Field, 360 N Broadway St, St Paul, MN 55101
CHS Field is converted to a walking tour of holiday decorations and Christmas delights. There will still be a parade of dozens seasonal scenes featuring a plethora of holiday lights, a 60-foot illuminated tree and an art-created mosaic flame, a festive Santa Land, and other attractions. Grab a map and follow the trail to find a “sElfie Plaza”, an enchanted forest, a s’mores station, concessions and more. Tickets: $12.75-$20.75/pp. November 16-December 31, 2023.

GLOW Holiday Festival - The Great Minnesota Holiday Get-Together Artwork Horizontal

Twin Cities Northeast Metro events

Stillwater Hometown for the Holidays

Downtown Stillwater, Stillwater MN 55082
The mile drive of Main Street is covered with snowflake decorations and rooftop lights. Drive it, walk it, shop it – all beautiful choices. Twinkle Party & Tree Lighting: Dec 2, 2023.

Valley Lights at Rockpoint Church

5825 Kelvin Ave N, Lake Elmo, MN 55042
Fairly short and sweet but impressive, too, with tree after tree of lights synchronized to music you can listen to from the comfort of your car (we really liked the tunes!). If you’re up in the range of the northeast metro, drive on over. November 24-December 31, 2023. FREE.

Twin Cities Southeast Metro events

Magic of Lights at Viking Lakes

2685 Viking Circle, Eagan, MN 55121
The shine is most certainly still on the newest drive-through Christmas light experience in the Twin Cities. Expect it to bring the glitz – like a see-it-to-believe Holiday Barbie display, prehistoric dinos and a giant lit monster truck.  Runs November 17-December 31, 2023. Starting at 5:30pm nightly. $25-$35/car.

MORE WINTER FUN AT VIKING LAKES: You don’t have to drive through the holiday lights display to feel festive, there is Winter SKOLstice fun to be had at Viking Lakes. Ice skate for free on the SKOLstice Market Rink (5-10pm Sat & until 9pm on Sun, BYO skates or rent a pair for $5) and shop the Winter Market until 8pm.

Christmas in the Village

Dakota City Heritage Village, 4008 220th Street W., Farmington, MN 55024
The historic buildings are decorated and illuminated throughout the village. But don’t just admire the outsides — stop inside to see the projects in the blacksmith shop, what’s cooking on the homestead stove, Christmas carols in the church and more. One and all are welcome to visit the re-created village between 3pm and 8pm to enjoy this holiday tradition. December 2nd, 3rd, 9th and 10th, 2023. Tree Lighting December 2, 2023. $5/pp.

Twin Cities Southwest Metro events

Winter Lights at the Arboretum

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, 3675 Arboretum Dr, Chaska, MN 55318
Winter will be in bloom with lighted greenery and displays throughout the pathways of the arb’s gardens! Online ticket reservation required. November 16 through December 31, 2023. $25/adults 16+; Children 15 and under FREE (except on Family Nights when child admission is $5 and adults are $30). Purchase tickets here.

Special Family Fun Nights Thursdays Dec. 7 & 21

These select nights have a smaller capacity so participating families can enjoy an special extras, including crafts, cookies and cocoa.

Sovereign Estate Spirit of Winter

9950 N Shore Rd, Waconia, MN 55387
Heaps of holiday spirit here at this all-ages stroll through holiday lights displays and more outdoor attractions such as Candy Cane Lane, pallet maze (not enough powdery stuff to make it a snow maze this year), boot hockey arena and a living Nativity. Santa makes nightly visits. Food and beverage available for noshing and warm firepits to enjoy said treats around. Runs now-December 30, 2023. Tickets $10/pp plus fee or $15/door.

Sever’s Holiday Lights

Sever’s Festival Grounds, 3121 W 150th St, Shakopee, MN 55379
Holiday light shows, Winter Carnivals, and more. Drive through glowing tunnels and view over two million twinkling lights. November 2023 – January  2024; Sun & weekdays 5pm-9pm; weekends 5pm-10pm. $25-$55/carload.

Create your own drive-thru Christmas lights event!

We have an enormous list of homes around the Twin Cities that deck their halls up for the holiday: Jump over to Light It Up: Twin Cities & Greater Minnesota Christmas & Holiday Light Displays for our map and get your family fill of giant candy canes, inflated snowmen, reindeer, Christmas tree displays and Santa Claus figures!

Twin Cities Holiday Lights - Map Your Route Banner

Living Christmas Nativities – walking & driving

Drive-Thru Living Nativity

SouthCross Community Church, 1800 County Rd 42 E, Burnsville, MN 55337
Drive through the nativity while staying work in your car. Monday December 11 and Tuesday December 12, 2023. 6:30-8:30pm. FREE. Food donations for 360 Community food shelves will be accepted if you are able. Questions call: 952-432-4286.

Living Nativity

St Stephen’s Lutheran Church, 1965 Co Rd E East, White Bear Lake, MN 55110
Includes festive music and live animals on the South Stage. December 16, 2023.

Drive thru hot chocolate

I was hoping to find more locally-owned drive through options for cocoa and sweets. If you have a favorite place to get cocoa without leaving your car, leave us a comment and we’ll share with the family.

Mudslingers Drive-Thru Coffee

2154 Lexington Ave N, Roseville, MN 55113
This adorable little hut has a double drive through and hours that are NOT going to help you for an evening drive, but I included it anyway because maybe you’ll want to grab some hot cocoa on your way to ice skate at the Roseville Oval or something. Hot chocolate is on the menu, as well as smoothies and kids steamers.

Caribou Drive-Thru

Caribou conveniently offers a Drive-Thru filter when searching for a coffee shop near you. Find all the local Caribous with Drive Thru windows here.

Boy drinking cocoa at Carma Coffee in Minneapolis Minnesota

Fun seasonal roadtrips for a holiday experience

Bentleyville Tour of Lights

Bayfront Festival Park, 700 Railroad St, Duluth, MN 55802
Distance from the Twin Cities: Approximately 2 1/2 hours.
This is one of Anne’s picks for 10 Best Things To Do in Duluth Over Winter & Holidays. November 19th – December 26th, 2022; Sunday-Thursday: 5-9pm; Friday-Saturday: 5-10pm. General Admission: FREE; Parking $10.

Kids standing at the entrance to of Bentleyville Holiday Lights in Duluth, Minnesota
Bentleyville, Duluth Minnesota

Kiwanis Holiday Lights

Sibley Park, 900 Mound Ave, Mankato, MN 56001
Distance from the Twin Cities: Approximately 1 1/2 hours
Visitors can participate by bus, walking or driving tour. Santa is available for visits on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings from 5-9pm. Free and open to the Public from Friday, November 25-December 31, 2022.

Best day to visit: Opening Night (November 25, 2022) includes a parade at 6pm.

Sam’s Christmas Village

710 Spring St suite c, Somerset, WI 54025
Distance from the Twin Cities: Approximately 45 minutes.

Kids can visit with Santa and his live reindeer every night, reserve a s’more cabin and see beautiful lights. Both walk through and drive through tours are available. Admission is $10 for Kids and $20 for adults. Cabins start at $119 for the evening (but not overnight).

Sertoma Winter Wonderland at the Northland Arboretum

Northland Arboretum, 14250 Conservation Dr, Baxter, MN 56425
Distance from the Twin Cities: Approximately 2-hour drive.
A drive through event from Thanksgiving through New Years Day. 2022 Schedule – 5:30pm – 8:30pm; November 24-26, 30, December 1-3, 7-10, 14-17, 21-31.

Sportsman Park, 1000 3rd Ave NW, Sleepy Eye, MN 56085
Distance from the Twin Cities: Approximately 2-hour drive.
Families can choose to drive or walk through the exhibits. Tune your FM radio to 89.1 to hear favorite Holiday tunes synced to the light shows. Some years they have offered horse-drawn carriage rides, but it looks like it will be a tractor-drawn hay wagon ride in 2022. Reserve seats here if you want to guarantee a spot. Thanksgiving through New Years Day.

More Beautiful Holiday Experiences: You May also enjoy exploring the downtown areas of our favorite Christmas Towns.

Red Mailbox says "Letters to Santa". Text: Get Free Letters From Santa in the Mail
Find Twin Cities North Pole Mailboxes to Drop Off Letters While You are Out and About

Watch for Again in 2024:

Come to the Stable: A Living Nativity

Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church, 5426 12th Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55417 (corner of 11th Ave S and W 54th St)
Guests are invited to the Stable for a family-friendly afternoon featuring a live nativity complete with Mary, Joseph, angels, shepherds, live animals, and, of course, baby Jesus. The organizers tell us they are taking 2023 off and re-evaluating the event. We’ll watch to see what happens in 2024.

More 2023 Holiday Fun:

Find more holiday festivities in our Twin Cities Holiday Guide.


6 thoughts on “2023 Twin Cities Drive Thru Christmas Lights, Walking Tours & Holiday Events”

  1. For readers coming to visit us here at SouthCross Community Church, I am sorry to say that there will be no free chili or hot chocolate this year. Please read this corrected description of our Living Nativity:
    SouthCross Community Church, 1800 Co. Rd. 42 East in Burnsville, presents its 26th Annual Outdoor Living Nativity on Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 12th & 13th from 6:30-8:30 PM, regardless of weather! Drive through in the warmth of your car. Voluntary donations of non-perishable food or cash will be accepted for area food shelves. Add this to your FREE Holiday activities and see the “Reason for the Season”. Call 952-432-4286 if you have questions!

    1. Thank you, Beth. For readers visiting New Ulm, Sippet is open until 3:30pm on weekdays, 2pm on Saturdays and noon on Sundays. The address is 701 North German Street, New Ulm, Minnesota 56073.

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