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Nisswa City of Lights Celebration: A Magical Holiday Tradition

Updated: Dec 8, 2023

A Winter Wonderland in the Heart of Minnesota

While the rest of the world gears up for Black Friday, the Nisswa Lakes Area has a different tradition – the Nisswa City of Lights Celebration (November 24, 2023). Forget about the hustle and bustle of shopping; Nisswa is all about putting on a show! (The stores also provide special offers and extended shopping hours, allowing you to take advantage of these opportunities during the event). The local stores participate in the downtown festivities, adorning their shops with twinkling lights, festive decorations, and contagious smiles. Hosted by the Nisswa Chamber of Commerce and supported by local sponsors and businesses, this celebration is a testament to the town's unity and commitment to spreading holiday joy.

While we can share our perspective and snapshots, trust us when we say that words and pictures can't fully capture the magic of this event. You have to experience it in person to truly grasp its enchantment. There's something uniquely special about Nisswa and its ongoing lineup of incredible events. A picture might be worth a thousand words, but being at the City of Lights Celebration creates memories that last a lifetime – it’s a Hallmark movie in the making! Hallmark, take note!

The absence of snow this year was the only drawback. The event kicks off in the afternoon, and from there, the magic unfolds. Food vendors, bonfires along the Paul Bunyan Trail, reindeer, appearances by Santa and Mrs. Claus, hot cider, hot chocolate, donuts, holiday lights, mini donuts, storytelling, hundreds of smiling faces, a trolley train, fireworks, and more – the list is as extensive as it is enchanting. Check out this year's schedule for all the details.


Here are our standout moments from the celebration:

Bonfires and S'mores at Up North Bike Rental: Warmed up by the bonfire and enjoyed delicious s'mores. This was donation based, the proceeds benefited The Outreach Program of Brainerd Lakes.

Blueberry Drink at North Root Studio: Treated ourselves to the "Blåbärssoppa Blueberry Soup" at North Root Studio, courtesy of Wildflower Chocolate. (Available for purchase, along with their delectable chocolates!).

Nisswa City of Lights 2023

Trolley Train Ride: Watched many visitors enjoy a ride throughout the town.

Beautifully Decorated Businesses: Appreciated the creativity of local businesses as they showcase their holiday spirit through decorations. (Buffalo Plaid won the 2023 City of Lights Window Decorating Contest).

Warmed Up on the Paul Bunyan Trail: We savored the cozy atmosphere by the bonfires that adorned the trail, providing the perfect opportunity for engaging conversations with both locals and fellow visitors.

Luminary Walk at Pioneer Village: Strolled through the luminary walk at the Pioneer Village.

Live Nativity Scene at Pioneer Village: Watched the heartwarming live nativity scene performed by dedicated volunteers.

Cousin Eddie's Spiked Hot Chocolate: (For Purchase) Sampled the delicious and warm spiked hot chocolate from Main Street Ale House. (It was so good, we forgot to get a photo of it!)

Nisswa City of Lights 2023

Warming Up at Wine Down: We relished the opportunity to unwind at Wine Down, savoring quick glasses of wine to commemorate the occasion.

Fresh Brews at Big Axe Brewing Company: Enjoyed a selection of fresh brews and by luck it was MN Pint Day, so you could purchase a special commemorative glass.

Lighting Ceremony: Experienced the magical moment when the town lights up in a synchronized countdown. (Located down by the Chamber building).

Fireworks Show: We were amazed by the fireworks display presented by North Star Fireworks. For a close up view, head to the Ye Old Pickle Factory. (Truly, there is not a bad spot to see the fireworks in town).

Sense of Community: Above all, the profound sense of community that the event fosters! These memories are destined to endure a lifetime.


Helpful Tips For Attending This Event:

Arrive Early for Parking: Secure a spot by arriving early if you plan to park in town.

Utilize Shuttle Service: Take advantage of the free off-site parking and shuttle service provided by the Chamber of Commerce.

Dress for the Weather: Embrace the chilly Minnesota weather by dressing warmly. (Hint: Bring some hand warmers).

Spread the Holiday Cheer: Invite your friends and family to join you in the festivities.

Book Accommodations in Advance: As the event attracts a large crowd, consider booking accommodations early.

Bring Cash: While vendors do accept cards, having cash on hand can streamline the payment process at times.

Holiday Shopping and Local Delights: Browse the charming shops and boutiques lining the streets of Nisswa and discover unique gifts for your loved ones. It’s a great way to support local businesses!

Food Vendors and Restaurants: The event offers plenty of food and beverage options, ranging from the food trucks stationed in front of the Chamber building to the local restaurants in town. However, anticipate lines as it is a sizable event, so patience is key.

Bring a camera: You'll want to capture all the magical moments of the celebration. (Plenty of holiday photo opportunities).


The Nisswa City of Lights Celebration is a must-attend event in the Nisswa Lakes Area and Minnesota. It's a delightful blend of holiday spirit, community bonding, and unforgettable experiences. Mark your calendars for next year's celebration – you won't want to miss this luminous extravaganza! This enjoyable, family-friendly event has the potential to become your next cherished holiday tradition.


Photo Gallery of the Nisswa City of Lights Cerebration 2023 in Nisswa, MN (November 24, 2023)