GLOW Festival

GLOW Holiday Festival is a drive-thru holiday lights experience that will come to the State Fairgrounds this winter.

There was, of course, no late summer get-together at the Minnesota State Fair due to COVID-19, but there will be a drive-thru holiday light experience at the Fairgrounds from Nov. 19 to Jan. 3.

The GLOW Holiday Festival was announced last month. It will be a one-mile drive-thru promising more than a million holiday lights, seasonal scenes, a 100-foot illuminated tree, icicle and art installations, a gingerbread house and more, according to a news release. The drive-thru will take about 40 minutes, with entry timed for every 15 minutes.

And what’s a trip to the State Fairgrounds without food? After the drive-thru there will be State Fair food favorites available to purchase.

According to a news release, a similar event was held in Tennessee last year. Longtime Twin Cities event promoter Randy Levy of Rose Presents purchased GLOW Nashville to bring it to Minnesota. The move involved more than 40 semi-trucks of lights, gear and props. Minnesota GLOW will feature a some local touches including Purple Lane (a tribute to Prince), Lil Farmstead, the Wagon Wheel stage, and the GLOW Disco Party (if you’ve ever thought the John Deere dome at Machinery Hill had disco ball potential, you might be correct).

Levy — who has owned/promoted events including WE Fest near Detroit Lakes and Soundset at the Fairgrounds — planned for the event to be a walk-thru experience (selfies above the lights from the chair lift ride, anyone?), but it was switched to drive-thru due to the pandemic. In a phone interview, Levy touted surprises among the 10 station stops on the tour.

“We’re taking the objects of the State Fair, amplifying them and adding all these components we bought,” Levy said. “We’re creating a complete and total festival.”

Tickets are $46 plus fees, one per vehicle. Presale tickets are available now with the code GLOW. All tickets must be purchased online in advance at Entry is timed for every 15 minutes. Promoters plan a YouTube link that will give you directions and tour highlights.

Some of the highlights include Tinsel Tower, a story projected onto a notable Fairgrounds building; Arctic Circle, featuring 200 icicles and a 100-foot illuminated tree; and the Grand Opening, a gigantic illuminated gift box.

Each night of GLOW will benefit a community charity, with $2 from each ticket, according to the news release. There will be special theme nights and sponsors during the 46-night run of the event.

A half-mile long drive-thru holiday lights display ran at Lake Phalen from 2008 to 2016.