After nearly all the Christmas Lights, Festivals and Events got cancelled last year, the fun is coming back in a big big way! Following is a list of lighting and holiday celebrations from across the 320 in alphabetical order.
Christmas at the Fort
Every year on the day after Thanksgiving the community of Alexandria gathers at the original Fort Alexandria which is downtown near Big Ole Park. Santa and Mrs Claus make an appearance to talk with the kids. The Zion Lutheran School Choir and The Alexandria Carolers will perform. There is a Parade of Christmas Trees inside the fort and at 5pm they throw the switch and light up downtown Alexandria’s lighted trees. The festivities run from 3-6pm, but Copper Trail Brewing Company has a beer garden across the street that open at 2:30pm with live music from 5pm to 8pm.
Dress warm, most of the events are outdoor and the buildings of Fort Alexandria are mostly unheated. More details on the festivities are here.
Where: The Runestone Museum at 206 Broadway St, Alexandria, MN 56308
When: Friday November 26th, 2021 from 3-6pm.
Online: Events Calendar
Forest City Pioneer Christmas
For 25 years, Litchfield has been celebrating the season with a big get together at the Forest City Stockade. The first Saturday of December, kids of all ages can talk with Santa, enjoy sleigh rides, create crafts, shop at the pioneer store and listen to live Christmas Music. Food is available on site including cream can stew, fry bread, lefse, homemade ice cream and Old Fashion Root Beer.
Where: The Forest City Stockade at 309th St, Litchfield, MN 55355
When: Saturday December 4th, 2021 from 11am to 5pm
Cost: $5 for adults, kids 12 and under Free
The Santa Parade
The day after Thanksgiving, Little Falls hits the street with the Santa Parade. Yes. Bundle up because it’s a parade you might see at any summer celebration, except everything is Christmas themed and it’s cold. This has been going on for years and as part of the tradition, Santa is always on the last Float of the Parade. Also that night the City of Lights get lit for the season. If you’re going, the parade begins at the corner of Lindbergh Drive and Highway 27 it proceeds east on Highway 27 to First Street then turns north onto First Street and disbands at the Fire Hall.
When: Friday, November 26th, 2021 from 6-7pm
Lights on the Prairie
This is a drive through display at the Stephen County Fairgrounds. After your finished with the drive through you can stop at the Lee Community center for free open skating.
Where: Stephen County Fairgrounds at 177 County Rd 22, Morris MN 56267
When: Friday and Saturday nights through December 18th, 2021. Open 5pm – 10pm
Cost: Free (Free will donation accepted)
Country Lights Festival
Light It Up! The Sartell Country Lights Festival gives you a chance to walk through an amazing 33 acres winter wonderland lit by the glow of thousands of lights! This event is free to the public with the help of the city and sponsors like Country Financial. There are a few days of note including: 12/10 – Hot Dog Night thanks to Great River Rotary; 12/17 – S’more Night with the Sartell Firefighters; 12/31 – Fireworks (7:00pm) thanks to CentraCare Chateau Waters
Where: Lake Francis Park in Sartell. Park at the Sartell Community Center at 850 19th St S. Sartell, MN 56377.
When: Nightly December 1st through December 31st.
Light the Night
This is a different idea. Instead of driving or walking through a light show, River Life Church of Sauk Centre has you park, then watch and listen to the music and light show in your car. Great if you have small kids that don’t want to stay bundled up. Simply park the car, tune to the radio station (details on site) and enjoy the show. The show lasts about 30 minutes and then repeats for the next group. You can show up any time between 5 and 8pm on the days their open.
Where: River Life Church at 705 12th St S, Sauk Centre, MN 56378
When: Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights December 4th through December 20th. Open 5-8pm
14th Annual Parade of Lights and Family Fun Day
While some communities spread out their Christmas Lights, Festivals and Events over a few weekend. Sauk Rapids piles it all into a single day. And what a day it is!
There’s shopping, Bingo, a meat raffle, photos with Miss Sauk Rapids, photos with Santa, selfies with Llamas, shopping with Vendors, a Living Nativity, lots of food, more shopping at the downtown Jingle and Mingle, a silent auction, and holiday music. Oh, and did we mention… shopping? It all wraps up with a Grand Parade down 2nd Ave at 5pm.
Where: Sauk Rapids VFW on Benton Drive and the Grand Parade on 2nd Avenue, Sauk Rapids MN
When: December 18th – All Day. Most events start at 11am. Grand Parade at 5pm
Cost: Varies depending on what you choose to do.
Online: City of Sauk Rapids
Celebrate the Light of the World
Several years ago there was a family who really liked to decorate: The Koosman Family. Year after year the display grew until they figured, this is big. Really Big! Lets get more people involved, move it to a park and invite everyone. They turned everything over the Willmar Fests (a civic organization) and moved the fun to Robin Island Park. Now you can drive through thousands of lights and Celebrate the Light of the World.
Oh, did we mention this is a really big display? 900,000 Lights!
Where: Robins Island Park at Hwy 71 S N, Willmar, MN 56201
When: Starts Thanksgiving Day Nov 25th, 2021 and runs Daily through January 1st, 2022. Open 5pm to10pm.
Cost: Free (Donation encouraged – Money goes to great causes mentioned here.)
The Christmas season is short and for some, stressful. Plan some time to attend Christmas Lights, Festivals and Events this year and celebrate with your community. After all, these are the most festive events of the year!