In the northwest corner of Iowa, about halfway between Sioux City and Fort Dodge, close to 10,000 locals and Iowa residents from afar flock to one of the best Christmas attractions in the state each year: Santa’s Castle in Storm Lake.
Gordon Linge’s Santa’s Workshop was the first incarnation of Santa’s Castle, which has been a Storm Lake tradition since the early 1970s. If you ever doubted that Santa existed, you’ll find you were mistaken when you visit Santa’s Castle.
The castle is home to one of the largest displays of Christmas figurines and antiques in the nation. Inside the castle, you will also find Christmas trains, mesmerizing displays of Christmas lights, reindeer, and other Christmas animals.
Whether you are visiting Santa’s Castle for the first time or are an annual visitor who loves to experience a little Christmas magic each year, we’ve got the scoop on this season’s happenings at Santa’s Castle in Storm Lake.
Santa’s Castle Theme for 2022
This year, Santa’s Castle volunteers have landed on “Through the Decades” for a theme. The castle will showcase different decades of Christmas traditions and toys in each area. On the first floor, you will find sections for each decade from the 1950s to the 2000s. The display for each question intends to answer the question—what fun things would you see under your Christmas tree in each decade?
Santa’s Castle volunteers thought the theme would be a great way to engage visitors of all ages. Some of the fun things you might see under one of the trees include an Easy Bake Oven, a Lite Brite, an E.T. doll, an Etch-a-Sketch, Twister, a boom box, a Cabbage Patch doll, vintage Barbies, Bratz Dolls, and much more. However, the toys aren’t the only thing that set the decades apart. Look for different types of popular tree ornaments, Christmas songs, television, and movies, too.
When Can You Visit Santa’s Castle?
Fortunately, Santa’s Castle is open from Thanksgiving to Christmas, so you have ample time to visit. And, you can even go back for a second or third time.
Santa’s Castle’s hours from Saturday, Nov. 26 until Christmas Eve are as follows:
- Saturdays, 1 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m.
- Sundays, 1 to 4 p.m.
- Monday through Friday, 6 to 8 p.m.
On Christmas Eve, you still have a chance to visit Santa from 1 to 4 p.m. before he delivers toys later that night. Santa needs some time to rest after a long night, so Santa’s Castle is closed on Christmas Day. Monday, Dec. 26 is the final day you can visit Santa’s Castle for the season (open from 1 to 4 p.m.)
Santa’s Castle is a nonprofit production of the town of Storm Lake, so you might expect it to be free. However, they need to cover some of the costs of putting together this fabulous attraction, so they charge for admission. Fortunately, Santa’s Castle can keep admission low, making it affordable for everyone to visit. Children under age 2 are free. Kids between ages 2 and 10 pay a $3 admission fee and those 11 and older pay $5. Santa’s Castle also accepts donations to support the wonderful attraction. You can visit its website and donate via PayPal or send a check to the address on its site.
Entering the Castle
This year, Santa’s Castle hasn’t made any changes to how you enter the castle. Visitors enter through the front door and head up the stairs on the north side of the building. Once you proceed through all the displays and visit Santa, you can head to the gift shop to buy a souvenir that will memorialize your visit. Once you’re done shopping, you can exit at the door near the gift shop on the lower level. If you or someone you are with needs an accessible entrance, you can also enter through the gift shop door.
Volunteering at Santa’s Castle
Santa’s Castle relies on the generosity of volunteers who give their time to create this magical experience for children and adults alike. They love anyone who is in high school or older. They need help with various things and you don’t need any experience to be one of Santa’s elves. Individuals can greet visitors, hand out scavenger-hunt cards, and help Santa pick out a book for each child. Groups can decorate a tree or help at various stations throughout the castle. If you live in the area, consider donating your time to help others enjoy the magic.
By Jessica Lee
Iowa Starting Line is part of an independent news network and focuses on how state and national decisions impact Iowans’ daily lives. We rely on your financial support to keep our stories free for all to read. You can contribute to us here. Also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.