Layering on your winter clothes and heading out with the whole family to see the holiday light displays is a favorite tradition for many people living in and around St. Louis. Not only is it a great way to jumpstart your holiday spirit, it's also a great way to spend time with your love ones and drink hot chocolate. There are plenty of places to see light displays from downtown St. Louis to the towns in nearby Illinois.
Neighborhood-wise, there are also plenty of local homes which will be lit up for the holidays around St. Louis. They're certainly worth taking a drive to see as well!
Many holiday events in 2020 have been modified or scaled back, so be sure to confirm details with individual event organizers about potential changes or new guidelines before you head out.
See the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, the birthplace of Budweiser beer, in St. Louis all decked out for the holidays. Every year the brewery kicks off the holiday season in St. Louis with a public lighting ceremony in late November. The brewery is one of the largest and oldest in the country and was even dedicated a historic landmark in 1966, so it's easy to see why it's such a celebrated place in St. Louis.
Brewery Lights is a free event takes place from November 27, 2020, until January 3, 2021, from 5 p.m. to midnight each night. For the 2020 holiday season, visitors drive through the brewery and stay in their vehicle the entire time, unlike most years where you can walk around, ice skate, and, of course, drink a beer.
The Way of Lights in Belleville is one of the area's most popular Christmas displays, where more than a million lights are used to tell the story of Jesus' birth. You can drive through the display or take a carriage ride. There's also a puppet show, camel rides, a quilt auction, and a petting zoo. The event is open every night from November 20 to December 31, 2020, at the Our Lady of the Snows Shrine, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. Admission is free, but donations are accepted and appreciated.
Santa's Magical Kingdom in Eureka, Missouri
It takes quite a while to see all 35 acres of Christmas lights at Santa's Magical Kingdom in south St. Louis County. Millions of lights and dozens of holiday scenes fill Jellystone Park in Eureka. You can see Santa's flying reindeer, travel through the Candy Cane Village, or visit the Waterfall of Lights. For even more fun, take an old-fashioned wagon ride through the display. After seeing the lights, head over to Kringle's General Store for a little holiday shopping. Some activities, such as photos with Santa, have been canceled for the 2020 holiday season.
Santa's Magical Kingdom is open every night from November 20, 2020, to January 10, 2021, including Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year's Eve. The admission price is $25 per vehicle, which must be paid in cash upon arrival.
For more than 30 years, employees with the St. Louis County Parks Department have turned Tilles Park into a Winter Wonderland. You can drive through the display, but the best way to see the lights is by horse-drawn carriage. Winter Wonderland is open daily from November 20, 2020, to January 2, 2021, except for Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. Saturdays are reserved for carriage rides only, and every other day of the week you can drive through with your car or take a carriage. Prices for driving your own vehicle start at $10, and can be paid at the event in cash or check (no credit cards). The Walk-Through Nights are canceled for the 2020–2021 season.
Winter Wonderland in Lebanon, Illinois
Another option for holiday lights in the Metro East is the Winter Wonderland of Lights in Lebanon, Illinois. Colorful lights and hand-painted scenes are used to create a Victorian-style holiday show for the whole family. The drive-through display is set up at Horner Park in Lebanon, about 30 minutes from downtown St. Louis. Winter Wonderland is open Sunday through Thursday from 5–9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 5–10 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are accepted. For Winter Wonderland in December 2020, all visitors must stay in their cars when enjoying the lights, as walking around is not permitted.
Missouri Festival of Lights in Downtown St. Louis
The Missouri Festival of Lights officially ushers in the holiday season with entertainment, the lighting of the Salvation Army Tree of Lights, and the Winterfest skating rink in partnership with the Gateway Arch Park Foundation. This free event takes place downtown in Kleiner Plaza, and it's a light show that is projected every Friday and Saturday evening from November 20 until December 26, 2020, in addition to Christmas Eve. The choreographed show runs every 15 minutes between the hours of 5–9 p.m., and since it's under the Gateway Arch, it's one of the most iconic St. Louis holiday events.
From November 11, 2020, to January 2, 2021, over one million lights will decorate the Missouri Botanical Garden for the holidays. Walk through the light display, then take in the Victorian Christmas decorations at Tower Grove House. In addition to the illuminated plants, Garden Glow also has live holiday music, snacks, and shopping. Other than Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the event is open every evening during the Christmas season from 5–10 p.m. Admission pricing is dependent on the date, but garden members get a discount.
Wild Lights at the St. Louis Zoo
Go a little wild this holiday season with Wild Lights at the St. Louis Zoo, walking through the exhibits as they come alive with more than 500,000 lights. Kids can hear holiday stories and adults can do a little shopping at the Holiday Zootique. Although the zoo closes at 4 p.m., Wild Lights is an after-hours event from 5–8:30 p.m. You can catch the holiday display on select nights from November 27, 2020, to January 2, 2021. There will also be fire pits, s'mores, carolers, and lots of photo opportunities. Advanced tickets are required to attend the event, which cost $10.95 and are separate from general admission tickets into the zoo. The maximum capacity is limited for the 2020–2021 season.
Each year, Alton's Rock Spring Park twinkles with three million lights during the holiday season. At Christmas Wonderland, you'll see cascading light waterfalls, lighted trees, and dozens of magical displays. Kids can normally also visit Santa in the Enchanted Forest or get up close with goats, llamas, and other animals at the petting zoo, but these activities are suspended for the 2020 display.
Christmas Wonderland is open from November 27 through December 27, 2020, and the price is $7 per vehicle. Make sure to turn off your headlights as you drive through the event, so you can enjoy the full effect of the lights.
Holiday Night Lights Walk Thru in Wentzville, Missouri
Holiday Night Lights is a massive display set up each year at Rotary Park in Wentzville, Missouri. The display takes you through a mile-long wonderland of twinkling lights, which you can enjoy from your car, by foot, or in a holiday sleigh ride. The display will be open from November 27 until December 30, 2020, from 5–8 p.m. Certain nights are set aside for cars or sleigh rides, so be to confirm what's available on the event calendar. On the night of December 14, there will even be photo opportunities with live reindeer.
The price for entering in a car is $10 per vehicle, while carriage rides require advanced reservation and an extra fee.
You find all kinds of Christmas scenes at the Celebration of Lights in O'Fallon, Missouri. Each year since 1991, visitors have enjoyed taking in the holiday lights at Fort Zumwalt Park. This is primarily a drive-through display, but you can also take a carriage, train, sleigh ride, or walk through the park. The Celebration of Lights is open every day during the holiday season from November 27 until December 30, 2020. The admission price is $12 per vehicle and for the 2020 holiday season, tickets must be purchased online in advance.