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 walking tours. With a few exceptions, 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 and Walking Tours
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.
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.
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, cocoa and characters from The Northern Express.
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 trai 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.
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.
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.
Dakota City Heritage Village, 4008 220th Street W., Farmington, MN 55024
Buildings will be illuminated inside and out throughout the village. The public is welcome to visit the Village between 3pm and 8pm to enjoy this holiday tradition. December 2nd, 3rd, 9th and 10th, 2023. Tree Lighting December 2, 2023.
Union Depot, 214 4th Street, East, Saint Paul, MN 55101
Tour booths by local artists and vendors and enjoy live Christmas music and entertainment as you stroll. You might even get a chance to visit Santa. Nov 24-Dec. 17, 2023. FREE.
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!
Living Christmas Nativities – Both Walking & Driving
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.
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.
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 conveniently offers a Drive-Thru filter when searching for a coffee shop near you. Find all the local Caribous with Drive Thru windows here.
Fun Christmas Roadtrips for a Drive-Thru Experience
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.
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.
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).
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.
Watch for Again in 2024:
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 options in our Holiday Guide.