Just about 25 miles north of downtown St. Louis is a spectacular holiday lights display. It's in Alton, Illinois, in Rock Springs Park. Each year, the park is decorated with millions of colorful lights to celebrate the Christmas season, and it's aptly called Christmas Wonderland.
When to Go
Christmas Wonderland opens each year after Thanksgiving and closes in late December. In 2017, Christmas Wonderland is open nightly from Nov.
24 through Dec. 27. Christmas Wonderland is a drive-through display, but there is a special walk-through night on Monday, Nov. 27, where only foot traffic is allowed. The lights are so bright that you can turn your car's headlights off to get a better view as you drive through the display.
Admission is charged per car; if a group of 10 people or more is in one vehicle, the charge is per person. Christmas Wonderland also offers carriage rides through the display on Saturdays. Carriages are available on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information on carriage rides, call the Black Tie Carriage Company at (217) 242-1104.
What You'll See
Each year, a group of volunteers called the Grandpa Gang strings the millions of lights at Christmas Wonderland. The display stretches out over a mile and a half of the park. There are dozens of colorful scenes that include a cascading waterfall, lighted tunnels, a snowman village, laser display, and light-wrapped trees.
Visiting Christmas Wonderland is a tradition for many area families who like to come back year after year to take in the familiar scenes and see what's new.
More Than Lights
Christmas Wonderland has other attractions in addition to the lights. Children can visit the petting zoo and feed the animals. Feed is available at the Santa Claus House for a small fee.
While at the Santa Claus House, kids can also have their pictures taken with Santa himself.
To get to Alton's Rock Springs Park, take the Clark Bridge across the Mississippi River into Alton. After crossing the bridge, turn left on U.S. Highway 67 north (Landmarks Boulevard) to College Avenue. The park is near the intersection of College and Washington avenues.