City of Lights Festival returns to Nisswa on Nov. 25

The event is in its 41st year and features Santa, live reindeer, fireworks and more

Downtown Nisswa is aglow in lights during last year's Nisswa City of Lights Festival.
Echo Journal File Photo

NISSWA — The annual City of Lights Festival will take place in downtown Nisswa on Friday, Nov. 25.

The city will kick off the holiday season with dazzling lights that adorn trees, fences and buildings throughout the city.

The event will begin in the afternoon with horse-drawn wagon rides, photo opportunities with live reindeer, storytelling, food merchants, bonfires along the Paul Bunyan Trail and strolling holiday carolers.

Santa Claus will be present to hear the wishes of children, and the event will end with fireworks from the Nisswa Community Center.

The event is free. Following is a schedule of events.


Friday, Nov. 25

  • 3:30 p.m.: Main Street closes (no parking) from Big Axe Brewery to Main Street Ale House. Nisswa Square parking closes. Food vendors on Main Street near the chamber.
  • 3:30 p.m.: "The Polar Express" storytelling (limited seating) in the caboose (across the street from the Pioneer Village).
  • 4 p.m.: Bonfires will be lit along the Paul Bunyan Trail.
  • 4 p.m.: Blinky lights for sale on Main Street.
  • 4 p.m.: "The Polar Express" storytelling (limited seating) in the caboose (across the street from the Pioneer Village).
  • 4-6 p.m.: Horse-drawn wagon rides starting in Nisswa Square.
  • 4 p.m.: Soup cart and outdoor bar opens at Main Street Ale House.
  • 4-5:45 p.m.: Santa and Mrs. Claus in the Nisswa Square courtyard.
  • 4-6 p.m.: Pequot Lakes High School Choir carolers in the gazebo.
  • 4-7 p.m.: Live reindeer near the Turtle Track.
  • 4-7 p.m.: S’more Holiday Fun — free s’mores and holiday fun at Up North Bike Rentals (next to city hall).
  • 4-7 p.m.: Salvation Army kettle at four locations.
  • 4:30 p.m.: "The Polar Express" storytelling (limited seating) in the caboose.
  • 4:45 p.m.: Luminary Walk at the Pioneer Village.
  • 4:45 p.m.: Free mini doughnuts at the Pioneer Village.
  • 4:45-7 p.m.: Kids crafts with the Black Bear 4-H Club at the Pioneer Village.
  • 5-6 p.m.: Wadena/Central Lakes College Community Bands Brass Ensemble in Nisswa Square near Stonehouse Coffee.
  • 5 p.m.: Main Street Ale House outdoor bar and fire pits.
  • 5 p.m.: "The Polar Express" storytelling (limited seating) at the caboose.
  • 5-7 p.m.: Live Nativity scene by Our Lady of the Lakes Parish youth at the Pioneer Village (show starts every 30 minutes).
  • 5:30 p.m.: Countdown for lighting display.
  • 6 p.m.: Santa arrives at the gazebo.
  • 7:30 p.m.: Fireworks by North Star Fireworks from the Nisswa Community Center (no parking due to safety zone).
  • 8-11 p.m.: Live music by Tail Gunners at Roundhouse Brewery.
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