Mankato, Discovering, Minnesota

Must See: Mankato Kiwanis Holiday Lights

If you live within driving distance of Mankato, MN, you must see the Mankato Kiwanis Holiday Lights.  It’s truly a magical, holiday adventure for the whole family. Not only are there 1.7 million LED lights, the 2018 experience includes ice skating and ice sculpting, horse-drawn carriage rides, visits from Santa and his reindeer and pure magical joy!

The Kiwanis Holiday Lights is in its 7th year and this year will mark having 1 million visitors come through the last 7 years.  This Holiday Lights display is a result of a great community coming together to place all the lights and help the event run each night from November 23 – December 31st. It’s organized very well and there are volunteers throughout ensuring a wonderful experience.

Must See Kiwanis Holiday Lights Mankato MN

The Kiwanis Holiday Lights event is FREE to attend.

Cash and non-perishable food donations are welcome. Since its inception, the event has raised over $300,000 and attendees have donated 83 TONS of food that benefits our local food shelves here in Mankato.

This is absolutely a community event that is run by volunteers, over 12,00 volunteers when it’s all said and done. Amazing!
Must See Kiwanis Holiday Lights Mankato MN

Pro Tip #1  For smaller crowds, pick a weeknight and arrive upon opening

Our schedule allowed us to attend on a Tuesday night- we arrived shortly after it opened at 5 pm and there were hardly any crowds so we could walk at our own pace.

Visitors are able to walk or drive through. You really get the full experience if you’re able to walk the light display but it’s also pretty awesome to drive through. Christmas music plays throughout and for those that drive, you can turn your radio dial to a channel and listen along!

Must See Kiwanis Holiday Lights Mankato MN

Pro Tip #2 Dress appropriately if you’re able to walk the event

We had a blast taking a leisure stroll through the lights. There is so much to see and look at. It was absolutely sweet to overhear little kids exclaiming in awe of the lights and wondering where Santa was. Bundle up so you are ready to spend ample time walking through.

Must See Kiwanis Holiday Lights Mankato MN

Pro Tip #3 Drive through several times so you don’t miss anything!

With over 1.7 million lights, there’s obviously a lot to look at. If time allows, drive through several times so you’re able to take it all in. Drivers are instructed to turn their headlights off so it doesn’t detract from the displays. With radios tuned to a particular channel posted throughout the drive, you’ll have a wonderful experience driving through.

Must See Kiwanis Holiday Lights Mankato MN

Pro Tip #4 Check out the schedule of events to find something you would enjoy

  • In 2018 they installed an ice skating rink with a warming house. Bring your skates and skate through some of the light displays!
  • In addition to skating, there is also a lighted merry-go-round (cost is $2 per person).
  • There’s also a refreshments building- stop in for hot cocoa and a small treat.
  • Of course, Santa is there Friday- Sunday throughout the entire event. Kids can drop their letters off in the mailbox and the letters will be answered. How adorable is that?
  • There are other events like curling lessons and various contests throughout as well.
  • Imagine a horse-drawn wagon ride on the weekends!
  • See live reindeer in person!

Must See Kiwanis Holiday Lights Mankato MN


We enjoyed our walk-through so much. It really is a magical holiday experience that you must see.

Tell us, where is your favorite holiday lights display? We’d love to add it to our list of things to discover

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Must See Kiwanis Holiday Lights Mankato MN



  1. Sara Broers (@TravelWithSara)

    January 7, 2019 at 10:33 pm

    This is going on my to do list for 2019! We don’t have any drive through parks here and this is not too far from where we live. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Kelly & Dusty Ratcliff

      December 8, 2019 at 1:02 pm

      Sara, you would LOVE it! (Also, sorry for just seeing this comment almost a year later).

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