It’s hard to believe that Christmas is this week… Not next week, THIS week! (Is anyone else in panic mode??) It seems that every year I have a bucket list of things that I’d like to do to celebrate the season and yet, year after year, I leave so many of those items on the list unchecked. However, this year, I was determined to bring out my inner “Clark Griswald” and scope out the holiday lights. Kiwanis Holliday Lights was the place to go.
Our de-LIGHT-ful trip turned out to be a last minute plan. I convinced my husband to go on a tour of holiday lights, but given that it was the weekend before Christmas, we had missed out on a few festivals already. We wanted to check out some of the other Holiday Lights Festivals still going on. We decided on the Kiwanis Holiday Lights at Sibley Park in Mankato, MN.
The Kiwanis Holiday Lights
With hot cocoa in hand, my husband and I embarked on our trip to Sibley Park. We learned online that the lights go on from 5:00pm – 10:00pm. But we were also instructed by friends who had previously gone that we should get there right at 5:00pm due to crowd control. I highly recommend this as well. If you choose to make this adventure a romantic date, you’ll get there shortly after sunset (which is of course, a beautiful sight to behold as well). Parking did not appear to be an issue.
Once you arrive at the Kiwanis Holiday Lights, you have the option to walk them through the park to get a closer look at the lights or you can drive around. To make the most of your adventure, it is recommended that you do both. A few things to consider: dress warm and wear comfy shoes! Ladies, this is not the time to be fashionably cold. Also, I wish I would’ve had my i-phone friendly gloves. I kept having to remove my mittens in order to take pictures and consequently, my hands were numb after a while. While admission is free, it doesn’t hurt to bring cash. This event is presented by the small businesses of Mankato to help raise money for non-profits. Cash donations and/or non-perishable food items are greatly encouraged.
As you walk into the park, the lights are animated and coincide with music. If you drive the loop, you can tune into Mankato’s radio station. You’ll notice right away as you walk in that the designated path is lined with trees that were decorated by various community groups and the small businesses of Mankato. You cannot help but feel the pride of this community and the personality that comes through.
Activities to enjoy:
- Concessions (cider, hot cocoa, water, soda as well as hot dogs, popcorn and candy canes) were served in warming houses (cash only, but very reasonable)
- Horse pulled wagon rides ($5.00/person)
- Ice skating (made with fake ice – but bring your own skates)
- See Santa and a few of his reindeer (check for Santa’s availability online as he may be in the shop) J
- See ice sculptors fabricate a rendition of Old Man Winter (limited time to see them working)
I have to say that the lights did not disappoint. It is my understanding that this is only the 4th year that Mankato has hosted this Kiwanis Holiday Lights festival together, and my guess is that it will continue to grow in popularity. All in all, I think my husband and I have found a new holiday tradition. This event is great for all ages; however, I would maybe refrain from bringing very small children due to the outdoor temperatures (although we did see a few wagons with little ones tucked under blankets).
While this will probably sound corny, what I loved most about this adventure is the opportunity to step outside of the holiday chaos, breathe in the fresh crisp air, and cherish the magic of the season. “Christmas lights instantly make me feel like I’m eight years old again” and there’s a reason we call it the most wonderful time of year.
May your days be merry and bright!
PS: For more great Christmas Lights throughout the Minnesota, check out Where to See Christmas Lights in MN or More ideas for fun things to do this winter: A Minnesota Winter | 28 Things To Do in the Twin Cities.