Best Places To See Holiday Lights Across Iowa

Photo courtesy of Lights at Kennedy Facebook Page

By Guest Post

December 9, 2022

The holiday season brings light to many in various ways, regardless of which holidays they celebrate and how they celebrate them. The literal light that comes into the world during the holidays is certainly among the most special parts of celebrations. Whether you want to take your kids to see holiday lights, go with a special someone, or check them out on your own, we’ve got you covered.

Here are some of the best places to see holiday lights across Iowa. 

Festival of Lights, Mt. Pleasant 

405 E. Threshers Road

Hours: 5:30 to 9 p.m. each night until Christmas

Admission: Family vehicle $10, Limo $25, Minicoach $30, Motorcoach $60

Photo courtesy of Midwest Old Threshers

The Midwest Old Threshers have delighted Iowa residents and visitors with its holiday light displays for close to a decade. Each year it puts up more than 140 light displays to fill 1.6 miles in its Mt. Pleasant Campground. The Festival of Lights is a drive-thru light display, so you can take in your favorite holiday scenes from the warmth of your own vehicle. 

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Jolly Holiday Lights, Altoona

3300 Adventureland Drive

 Hours: 5:30 to 10 p.m. through Jan. 1, 2023 (Closed Dec. 24-25, 31)

Admission: Family vehicle $25, Limo/Minibus $50, Motorcoach $75

More than 25 years ago, Make-A-Wish Iowa started Jolly Holiday Lights as a fundraising event to grant wishes to Iowa children. You can see some holiday lights and support a great cause. The annual light display occurs at Adventureland Park, making it the perfect place to see holiday lights for those who are in the Des Moines area. The drive-thru attraction is two-and-a-half miles with more than 100 light displays of various holiday themes. 

Tip: Buy a $200 “No Wait for Wishes” ticket to proceed directly to the lights after entering the front gate. Your donation will fund one local wish for a child fighting a critical condition. 

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Reflections in the Park, Dubuque

Louis Murphy Park, 1700 S. Grandview Ave.

Hours: 5 to 10 p.m. until Jan. 1

Admission: $12 per vehicle at the gate or $10 in advance at all DB&T Bank locations

Dubuque’s Reflections in the Park is another opportunity to take in some holiday light displays while benefiting those in need. Hillcrest Family Services has been putting on the light display since 1995. Proceeds from Reflections in the Park support more than 30 programs that help the homeless, provide wellness, and provide youth mentoring. If you don’t want to drive through the park, you can also walk and take in the glistening light displays. 

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Christmas Acres, Le Mars

18481 Impala Ave. 

Hours: 5 to 10 p.m. each night until Christmas

Admission: Free will donation for the Christian Needs Center in Le Mars

Photo courtesy of Christmas Acres


Sioux City area residents and others in northwestern Iowa need to head to Christmas Acres in Le Mars to get their holiday twinkle on. They welcome individual cars and large groups in buses to drive and walk through the largest country holiday light display in the area. Christmas Acres has thousands of lights, blow molds, inflatables, sculptures, and holiday music to enjoy. Don’t forget to stop in the bake shop and grab some treats for the ride home. 

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Lights at Kennedy, Fort Dodge

1415 Nelson Ave.  

Hours: 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 9-11, Dec. 16-18, Dec. 23

Admission: Free (suggested $5 donation)

Photo courtesy of Lights at Kennedy Facebook Page

The businesses in the Fort Dodge area band together each year to put on a magical holiday light display at the campground portion of Kennedy Park. One of the most fun aspects of Lights at Kennedy is that you get to vote on your favorite one when you’re done. Enjoy the choreographed music as you take in the twinkles from your car. Donations support Fort Dodge Young Professionals and the Fort Dodge Noon Sertoma organizations.

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Symphony of Lights, Clinton

Eagle Point Park, 3900 N. Third Street 

Hours: 6 to 9 p.m. Mon. through Fri., 5 to 9 p.m. Sat. and Sun. until Dec. 30

Admission: $8 per vehicle, $2 per person for vehicles with more than 10 people

The Symphony of Lights is Clinton’s Holiday Festival. The town puts on over 40 holiday light displays with more than 500,000 lights, castles, and a gingerbread lodge. The drive-through light display takes you through a 1.1-mile loop in Eagle Point Park. Depending on when you visit, you can also find other events going on at the park. Most are done for this season, but you can visit Santa from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 11, and Sunday, Dec. 18 

Festival of Lights, Carroll

22676 Swan Lake Drive  

Photo courtesy of Carroll County

Hours: 5:30 to 9 p.m. every night through Dec. 25

Admission: Free but donations to Carroll County EMS encouraged

Carroll County Emergency Services puts on an annual Festival of Lights at Swan Lake State Park Campground to raise money for emergency medical service volunteers. This massive holiday light display includes more than 1.5 million lights with each campsite showcasing a different theme or scene. 


By Jessica Lee

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