If you're looking to add a little more festivity to your holiday season, you might consider taking a drive to see some of the spectacular Christmas light displays around Minnesota.
Some are put on by community groups, but many are hosted by families or neighbors who simply want to spread a little holiday cheer or perhaps raise money for a favorite charity.
Here is a small sampling of some of the better-known displays around the region:
–St. Paul:Holiday Lights in the Park - Drive through Phalen Park to see the lights. Admission required.
– St. Paul:Rice Park - Walk through the downtown park which is brightly lit with tens of thousands of lights, plus a 70-foot Christmas tree.
– Duluth:Bentleyville - Billed as the country's largest free walk-through light display. Located at Duluth's Bayfront Festival Park. No charge, but donations accepted. MPR News produced a video and photo gallery of Bentleyville's light display. See it here.
– Mankato:Kiwanis Holiday Lights – Sibley Park. Walk or drive through the light display. No charge, but donations of food and cash are accepted.
– Plymouth:Christmas at the Fischers' Place – The annual Christmas lighting display of Tim and Cathy Fischer and family. The lights are synchronized to music that is broadcast over FM radio, so you can watch and listen from your car.
They recommend you check their Facebook page to make sure the lights are operating. In wet weather, they sometimes need to cancel the show. Here's a video from last year:
– Plymouth:PD Shimmers – Another synchronized light display, this one put on by Mike Justak in honor of people with Parkinson's Disease, which he has been living with for the past 10 years.
– Eden Prairie:Prairie Lights – A synchronized light display in the southwest metro area. Visitors are encouraged to drop off pop can tabs, which will be donated to the Ronald McDonald House.
– Willmar:Celebrate the Light of the World – A light display at a home just outside Willmar. Donations accepted for the Salvation Army.
Here are a couple of links that have more recommendations.
– Star Tribune:List of best light displays in the Twin Cities metro area.
– WCCO:Viewers' choice of best light displays.
– KS95: List of light displays in the Twin Cities, some recommended by listeners.
– Holiday Cheer Map: A website and app which will find light displays in your neighborhood. Get the Holiday Cheer Map through Nextdoor.
Here's a little science to throw in with your holiday celebration. NASA has posted some satellite photos which show just how bright our holiday lights are.
Around many major U.S. cities, nighttime lights shine 20 to 50 percent brighter during Christmas and New Year's when compared to light output during the rest of the year, the agency said. Here's an image from the East Coast which illustrates the point.