Holiday light displays can range from sensory-filled spectacles for the masses to quaint small-town celebrations. The Twin Cities area offers both — and everything in between. Whether you're in the mood for a high-voltage, music-fueled show or a sweet and simple municipal tree-lighting, we've got you covered.
When it comes to lighting up the night, the biggies include Glow (in a new location), Sam's, Sever's and Winter Lights at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Miracle at Big Rock in St. Croix Falls, Wis., now in its second year, is another contender. It offers 15 lighted vignettes, such as snowball-throwing snowmen, Santa driving a train full of toys and a Whoville with the Grinch himself. There's also sledding, costumed characters and carolers and, on select nights, fireworks.
New this year is Illuminate Isanti, which has grown into a nine-day event with lights, animated vignettes (including a reindeer-driven snowplow) food trucks, firepits and Santa on hand for photos.
With the metro area aglow, here are places to check out big displays as well as local municipal tree lightings.
Christmas in Color: A drive-thru holiday light show coordinated to music. 5:30-9:30 p.m. daily through Jan. 1. $35 per vehicle, online tickets only. Valleyfair, Hwy. 101 and Valleyfair Drive, Shakopee. christmasincolor.net
Glow Holiday Festival: Dress for the weather and prepare to enjoy the more than 1 million lights at Glow, which this year moves from the State Fairgrounds to CHS Field. You can walk through the expanded exhibits, including the Enchanted Forest, or pose in the sElfie Plaza. There also is a Minnesota Christmas market with small and local holiday vendors. Schedule varies; see website for details. Ends Jan. 1. $12.75-$20.75. CHS Field, 360 N. Broadway, St. Paul. glowholiday.com.
Holidazzle: The Holidazzle Yeti, the interactive illuminated art instillation by Christopher Lutter-Gardella, will once again brighten Loring Park. Activities throughout the holiday festival include roller skating, meet-and-greets with animals from local shelters, snow yoga, performances and family activities. Fireworks light up the sky on select nights. 5-9 p.m. today; noon-9 p.m. Sat.; noon-6 p.m. Sun. Ends Dec. 18. Free. Oak Grove St. and Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. holidazzle.com.
Illuminate Isanti: A new walk-through festival with illuminated trees, visits from Santa, activities and holiday merchants. 5 to 10 p.m. Thu.-Sat.; 5 to 9 p.m. Sun.-Wed. Dec. 10-18. $5-$12. Bluebird Park, 201 Isanti Pkwy., Isanti, Minn. 763-444-5512 cityofisanti.us
Miracle at Big Rock: Walk-through: 4-9 p.m. Wed.-Thu., Sun.; 4-10 p.m. Fri.-Sat. $15-$25. Drive-through: 5-9 p.m. Mon.-Tue. Through Jan. 1. $12 per person. 1674 Hwy. 87, St. Croix Falls, Wis. miracleatbigrock.com.
Sam's Christmas Village: Looking for Sammy the Elf is one of the activities in this display, which boasts more than 10 million lights. Guests can also visit with Santa, see reindeer, careen down a sledding hill and shop the European-style Christmas market. S'mores cabins are available for rent. 5-9 p.m. Wed.-Sun., Dec. 19-20, 26-27, plus drive-through-only Dec. 5-6, 12-13. Ends Jan. 1. $10-$20. 710 Spring St., Somerset, Wis. 715-247-5099. samschristmasvillage.com.
Sever's Holiday Lights: Enjoy holiday lights from the comfort of your car. This drive-through display, set to a holiday music track, includes a back-lit forest, hanging globes and icicle lights. New this year is a walk through the woods where trees come to life, and a 3-D gift box more than 24 feet tall. Sever's grounds also feature concessions, weekend fire dance performances and visits from Santa. 5-9 p.m. daily. Ends Jan. 1. $25-$55 per car, advance tickets only. 3121 150th St. W., Shakopee. 952-270-6293. seversholidaylights.com.
Winter Lights: This quarter-mile walking tour features illuminated outdoor displays that celebrate nature, including a 16-foot weeping willow tree. A walk through a giant apple pays tribute to the Horticultural Research Center's apple research. Purchase s'mores kits in the S'mores village and view the 25-foot poinsettia tree in the visitor center. See website for schedule. Ends Jan. 1. $25. Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, 3675 Arboretum Drive, Chaska. 952-443-1400. arboretum.umn.edu.
Afton Village Holiday: Downtown Afton becomes aglow with the lighting of the tree on Friday. Weekend festivities include strolling carolers, a holiday trolley, bonfires, s'mores and visits with Mr. and Mrs. Claus. 5-8:30 p.m. Fri.; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sat. exploreafton.com.
Anoka Hometown Holiday: Count down to the light-up of the official city Christmas tree, then stroll along the Rum River, shop local businesses and enjoy music by the Anoka High School 7th Avenue Carolers. 3-7 p.m. Sat. City Hall River Plaza, 2015 1st Av. N. discoveranoka.com.
Buffalo Deck the Halls: In addition to the tree lighting, guests can visit with live reindeer, Santa and take a horse-drawn wagon ride. 3-5 p.m. Sat. Sturges Park, 505 2nd Av. S. buffalochamber.org.
Chanhassen tree lighting: A gingerbread house display highlights this municipal event along with bonfires, live reindeer, refreshments, carolers and of course, Santa. 5 p.m. Sat. City Center Park Plaza, 7700 Market Blvd.
Coon Rapids tree lighting festival: More than 10,000 lights will light the grounds of Boulevard Plaza as Santa makes a grand entrance on a fire engine. Join in the singalong and countdown to the tree lighting and fireworks. 3:30-6 p.m. Sat. Boulevard Plaza and 111th Av. coonrapidsmn.gov
Eagan community tree lighting: Vinnie Rose belts out holiday tunes as Mayor Mike Maguire ceremoniously lights the tree. Hear stories and sing songs with Santa and Mrs. Claus and enjoy crafts, hot chocolate and fitness scavenger hunt. Stroll through lighted pathways and visit the vendor expo. 4:30-7 p.m. Dec. 6. Eagan Community Center, 1501 Central Pkwy.
Holidays in the Heights tree lighting: After viewing the city tree lighting, lace up your skates for Skate With Santa. Those dressed in red and green receive a special prize. 6 p.m. Fri. Veterans Memorial Community Center, 8055 Barbara Av., Inver Grove Heights. ighmn.gov.
Holiday at the Hilde: Santa and his reindeer make a visit from the North Pole. Along with the ceremonial tree lighting, listen to the choir, warm up by the bonfire and see pet llamas in holiday attire. 4-7 p.m. Dec. 3. Hilde Performance Center, 3500 Plymouth Blvd., Plymouth. plymouthmn.gov
Hometown Holiday: In addition to the tree lighting, there will be horse-drawn carriage rides, llamas and a visit with Santa. Local vendors also feature holiday specials. 3:30-5 p.m. Sat. City Square Park, 300 Chestnut St., Chaska. downtownchaska.com.
Minnidazzle: A light-filled parade moves through downtown Osseo with lighted trees in the background. There also are visits with Santa and a bonfire. 6-8 p.m. Fri. Boerboom Veterans Park, 416 Central Av. discoverosseo.com.
Rogers tree lighting: Gather for the annual tree lighting with family activities, hot chocolate, cookies and caroling. 6 p.m. Fri. 12716 Main St. rogersmn.gov
Shakopee Holiday Fest: A start to the holiday season with a vendor market for gift shopping. Take pictures with Santa, view the tree lighting and fireworks. 2-6 p.m. Sat. Downtown Shakopee. visitshakopee.org
Twinkle Party and Stillwater tree lighting: Chestnut Street will glow as guests receive free twinkle lights when Santa arrives for the annual tree lighting. The event follows with music and fireworks. Downtown Stillwater. 4 p.m. Sat. discoverstillwater.com.
Union Depot tree lighting: This year's tree lighting and movie night celebrates the 10th year of Union Depot's renovation. In addition to the lighting, live entertainment and a screening of "Elf," the Winter Carnival button will be unveiled. 3 p.m. Sat. Union Depot, 214 E. 4th St., St. Paul. 651-225-3923. uniondepot.org.