The Way of Lights at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, Illinois, is different from the many other Christmas light displays in the St. Louis area. First, admission to drive through the display is free. Second, the Way of Lights focuses on telling the story of Jesus's birth, not secular holiday tales like Frosty and Rudolph.
When to Go
The Way of Lights opens every year the Friday before Thanksgiving and closes in late December. In 2017, the Way of Lights is open from Nov. 17 to Dec. 31. The Way of Lights is open Monday through Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from 5 to 10 p.m. The outdoor light displays are open every night, including Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Eve, but the Shrine restaurant, gift shop, and other indoor attractions are closed on the holidays. Tuesday nights are family nights with special events and discounts.
The cost to drive through the display is free for everyone. Donations are accepted as visitors leave the shrine. Everyone who donates at least $15 gets a plush stuffed animal toy by Build-a-Bear as a gift.
More Than Lights
With more than a million twinkling lights, the drive-through display is the big draw, but there are other things to do at the Way of Lights as well. There is a puppet show for kids and a nativity scene made of Lego blocks. Kids will also like the animal rides and petting zoo; there are admission fees for some activities. If you feel like something special, take a carriage ride through the display. St. Louis Carriage Company offers rides every night but Saturday.
The Shrine restaurant and gift shop are also open nightly until 9 p.m. (except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day).
The Way of Lights is located about 20 minutes from downtown St. Louis at Our Lady of the Snows Shrine in Belleville. To get to the Shrine take Interstate 255 to exit 17A (Illinois Highway 15 east). Then, go about one mile on Highway 15, and you will see the entrance to the Shrine on the right, at 442 South DeMazenod Drive.