As Twin Cities wrap themselves in warm coats and sweaters, cities deck themselves out in extravagant light displays. Get the most out of the season of light with these free metro events.

Flip the switch with a lighted tree

Save the date for Chanhassen’s annual tree lighting ceremony on Saturday Dec. 7, from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. The event has all the trappings of a Christmas card, complete with live reindeer, gingerbread house displays, and a visit from Santa. The tree lighting ceremony is held at City Center Park, 7700 Market Blvd., Chanhassen.

Be ‘dazzled’ by hometown displays

From 6-8:30 p.m. on Friday Dec, 6, downtown Prior Lake will light up for a holiday celebration known as DecemBRRR Dazzle at Lakefront Park, 5000 Kop Parkway, Prior Lake. Along with city light displays, the annual community get together includes a visit from Santa and his reindeer, ice carving displays, a bonfire with the fire department and even a round or two of mini golf. This year’s dazzle will also include firework displays at 8:30 p.m. The city will be accepting new unwrapped toys and youth winter gear for the CAP Agency and Tree of Warmth.

Math meets music

The University of Minnesota’s Tesla Works group makes the college’s light displays dance in four high-tech light shows for the College of Science and Engineering Winter Light Show at the Civil Engineering Courtyard, 500 Pillsbury Drive SE, Minneapolis. Each year the students synchronize more than 250,000 LED lights to holiday music in a “sensory outdoor experience.” Performances run every 30 minutes from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Dec. 5-7 and Dec. 14.

Watch the lights come alive

The Minneapolis Downtown Council’s Holidazzle packs a winter’s worth of free outdoor fun in to a month long celebration in Minneapolis’ Loring Park, 1382 Willow St.

This year’s festival includes an illuminated and interactive Yeti art installation, holiday and craft markets, eight wintry movie nights, local music performances and even a giant, multi-person swing.

The festival caps off each of its four weeks with a firework displays under the canopy of Loring Park’s festive trees. The fireworks took flight at 7 p.m. on Nov. 29, and continue for the first three Saturdays in December. And with a free-ride pass available at, festival-goers can hop on a city bus or light rail to the park at no extra cost.


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