While many events are being forced to cancel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum will host its annual holiday light walking tour, with extra precautions to keep people safe.
The botanical-themed Winter Lights 2020: Winter in Bloom event opens Nov. 19 and continues nightly through Jan. 3 at the University of Minnesota's Arboretum in Chaska.
This is the fourth year of the event, but things will be different this year due to health and safety measures the Arb is taking amid the pandemic.
One of the major changes is that the majority of this year's display will be outside in order to keep people predominately outdoors (dress warmly), which means the Arb's indoor poinsettia tree and other decorated trees aren't happening this year.
Outdoors, though, there will be more lights for people to admire, including a 22-foot tent of lights and a 3D walk-through apple, which celebrates the 100th anniversary of the University of Minnesota's first apple introduction.
To see the lights, visitors will take a one-way path through buildings and light displays in hopes of reducing congestion. Masks are required inside and are recommended outdoors.
In an effort to better allow for physical distancing, the Arb is limiting the number of tickets sold to allow just 80 people per half hour into the event.
Another change for this year is that the Arb will have theme nights, with ticket prices varying depending on the night you choose to go. The details:
- Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 4-10 p.m. are general admission nights. Tickets are $15 for non-members and $10 for members. Tickets are timed, with people asked to arrive within 15 minutes of their scheduled time slot.
- Family nights from 4-6 p.m. or 7-9 p.m. on Nov. 24, Dec. 1, 8, 15 and 22. Tickets are $25 for non-member adults, $10 for members and children. Tickets include a craft and complimentary cocoa and cookies.
- Wednesdays from 4-9 p.m. are member nights, which are free for members and children 15 and younger. Tickets for non-members are $15.
- Photography nights are from 4-9 p.m. on Dec. 3 and Dec. 10. These nights are a special-access opportunity for photographers to take pictures, allowing them to explore the displays at their own pace. Tickets are $20 for members and $35 for non-members.
- December Gift Market from 4-10 p.m. on Dec. 5, 6, 12 and 13. More than 20 local artisans will be selling holiday gifts indoors and outside – it's free with a general admission ticket.
- Date night from 4-6:30 p.m. or 7:30-10 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 17. The adults-only event will include wine and beer tastings for people as they stroll through the winter lights. Tickets are $10 for members, $25 for non-members.
- New Year's Eve party from 6-10 p.m. on Dec. 31. In addition to the outdoor light display, the Arb will drop the ball at 8 p.m, 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. Tickets are $35 for members, $15 for children and $50 for non-members.
The Arb says it made the decision to charge members to see the lights this year in hopes of breaking even on the event.
Tickets are required in advance and won't be sold at the Arb.
Tickets go on sale for Arb members at 9 a.m. on Oct. 21 and non-members can buy tickets starting Oct. 23, with prices varying depending on the night (details above).
You can buy tickets online here.