It’s coming. The dancing lights, the holiday cheer and the center tree you have to have in the background when you capture your yearly family photo.
This event is 100% volunteer led and in 2016 over 1,700 volunteers spent 12,000 hours of volunteer time to make this event come alive. Each year set-up begins in October and takes 5 full weekends to get all of the displays up in the park, this doesn’t include the year ’round preparation that takes place behind the scenes.
The 2017 season starts on Friday, November 24th with a lighted parade through the park, beginning at 6:00 pm, followed by a brief lighting ceremony hosted by Santa himself! On the days following, the event will be held every night through December 31, gates open at 5pm. Check Facebook or Twitter for most up-to-date information
Navigating the Park
- Want less traffic and wait times? Visit the park on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday as they are typically the slowest. Also, be there when the park opens at 5 and you’ll be able to drive right (or be one of the first few in the gate).
- Want to meet Santa? Be there when the park opens or after 8:30 pm, he’s there on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights only.
- Walk or Ride? Both. Each experience is well worth it! If you can’t do both though, walking will afford you more opportunities for photo opps and more. There are also handicap accessible parking spots in the park. Plan your visit: Park Map
- Where to park? If you are walking the park, find a spot near Pathstone Living (Mound Ave.) to enter there or park in the CHS parking lot (Woodland Ave.) and enter under the trestle bridge. Don’t forget your donation!
What to Bring
- A stroller or wagon for your little ones. It can get to be a long walk for little legs, especially when it’s chilly.
- Cash for concessions. Trust me, a cup of hot chocolate will never taste sooooo good!
- Ice Skates. Utilize the skating rink, open every night, weather permitting.
- Your donation. No entrance fee is charged and all donations help make the event possible.
What to Wear
- Layers, lots of layers. Warm boots, mittens, coats, etc. The entire event is outdoors.
- If you’re a local, head to the park the minute it starts snowing. Not only is it beautiful, the park is QUIET. Everyone stays away but it’s one of the coolest times to be there.
- Heated Areas: the Giving Barn, Ice Skating Warming House, Concession Stand, Santa’s Workshop (only open Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights)
- Dogs are not allowed in the park per City of Mankato.
- Carriage Rides are held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, weather permitting.
Follow Kiwanis Holiday Lights Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for most up-to-date information.
If you are lucky, you’ll get to capture a moment like this…..
Check out more great outdoor winter events here.