Getting into the Holiday Spirit in the Willmar Lakes Area

By Bailey Hovland

Despite the unseasonably warm weather we’ve had this November, the holiday season is on its way. Soon we’ll have cold winds making cozy mittens and scarves a necessity, snowmen with lopsided grins decorating front lawns, and lights twinkling from the eaves of houses and branches of trees. As these festive indicators sprout up all over the area, an abundance of activities to embrace the festivity are taking place in the Willmar Lakes Area. Introducing, “Getting into the Holiday Spirit in the Willmar Lakes Area,” your official guide to taking advantage of the spirited month ahead in West Central Minnesota.


Photo credits to The Barn Theatre Facebook. Featuring a few members from the local production of “A Christmas Story,” these theatre enthusiasts want nothing more than to see you in attendance at the Barn Theatre for one spirited American Christmas story.

For the frozen soul who craves some time away from the looming wind and snow of winter, the Barn Theatre is the perfect escape to embrace the holiday spirit. Inside a newly remodeled theater you can slide into a cozy seat and settle in for an evening of entertainment from our fantastic local actors. Come by yourself or bring an entourage of family and friends to experience the next show, a lively retelling of “A Christmas Story,” running from November 30 to December 10.

Or, you can immerse yourself in a full day of holiday cheer with  A Dickens Christmas Event in New London. Starting at 9:15 a.m. on Saturday, December 9, the Little Theatre is hosting a free showing of “Scrooge,” officially presented by New London Roaming Cinema. After the 9:15 opening, there will be plenty to keep you busy in New London. Carolers dressed in Victorian Dickens costumes will be roaming downtown, singing time-honored Christmas tunes, hot apple cider and


Photo credits to Dickens Christmas Facebook. Young carolers dressed in Victorian attire warm up with hot drinks outside Millpond Mercantile.

snacks will be offered all day at Simple Days, and Shoppe 14 will have Lake Affect Coffee’s version of classic figgy pudding. Peace Lutheran Church will have gingerbread house decorating and Christmas card making as well as a Christmas Cookie Walk beginning at 11:00 a.m. Finally, at 1:00 p.m., there will be a Holiday Style Show featuring clothes from each of the boutiques and shops in the area, which will be followed by a Victorian High Tea (tickets are $20). With all of these joyful events, you’re sure to be merry and bright after you leave A Dickens Christmas Event in New London.


At the Kandiyohi County Historical Society, you can visit the Festive Forest Display; a museum exhibit in Willmar that features uniquely decorated Christmas trees from local clubs and organizations. Visitors can tour


Hello Santa and Hello Kitty! The kids have a blast each year when the Santa Semi comes to town.

the historical society and participate in a fun scavenger hunt through the Festive Forest, ending the search with a special prize. The exhibit is free and is the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit this winter.


Lastly, the Santa Semi, also known as the Holiday Express Eighteen-Wheeler, will be making stops in the Willmar Lakes Area from December 7-9. This semi truck and flatbed, put on by Kandiyohi Men’s Club & Atwater Chamber, will be rolling into town with some recognizable characters. Bring your kids to meet Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, an elf, a reindeer and, of course, Santa for picture opportunities and the chance to tell Santa exactly what they’re hoping to see under the tree on Christmas Day! In total, the Santa Semi will be visiting 13 locations in Kandiyohi County, so make a plan to stop by and visit all your favorite holiday characters!

Indoors or outdoors, the Willmar Lakes Area has plenty to offer for the upcoming holiday season. Whether you’re looking for an immersive holiday experience, a forest full of local history and businesses, or the chance to meet Santa on an eighteen-wheeler, we know we have something to get you in the spirit of the season.

Fish our lakes

The possibilities are endless on our 30 recreational lakes…boating, swimming, fishing, water skiing, tubing, canoeing, kayaking, paddle boating, hydro biking, paddle boarding and so much more!

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Explore our Trails

Surrounded by beautiful lakes and scenery…who wouldn’t take a hike or a leisurely bike ride to enjoy the view? With miles of trials to choose from, you can always find new places to explore.

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