The Holidays Light Up the Willmar Lakes Area

There’s so much to do and see during the holidays in the Willmar Lakes Area! With the amazing events starting mid-November and going throughout the month of December, you will definitely need to plan more than one visit to fit it all in!

Holidaze Event
Holidaze is the annual celebration to kickoff the holiday season in the Willmar Lakes Area. This community celebration takes place in Downtown Willmar on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Every year, people of all ages flock to downtown to enjoy a variety of activities including a holiday movie, hot cocoa and cookies, crafts and activities, and pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus. But the grand finale to the event, and the most anticipated entertainment of the night, is the lighted Christmas parade! A variety of area businesses and community organizations ordain their floats (and even themselves) with hundreds of Christmas lights and decorations! And with a final wave, Santa and Mrs. Claus close the parade on the last float before they swiftly return to the North Pole.


Turkey Leg 5K Run
Another annual tradition that many folks look forward to during the holiday season is the Turkey Leg 5K Run, which occurs on Thanksgiving Day. The run takes place in the morning so it’s a great way for people to start off their Thanksgiving Day and to work up their appetite to that much anticipated Thanksgiving meal. The race is a 3.1 mile roadside race starting at the Kandiyohi County Area Family YMCA and winding around the streets of Willmar. Even if you’re not participating in the race, it’s always fun to watch the participants run by with their creative Thanksgiving costumes.

Celebrate the Light of the World
Year after year, thousands of visitors flock to Robbins Island Regional Park for the long-lasting tradition of “Celebrate the Light of the World.” Robbins Island comes to life with light and color, drawing people of all ages to this beautiful park. Admire the lights from the comfort of your car by driving through the area starting Thanksgiving Day and running through December 31st. With almost 900,000 lights, more than 250 extension cords, and the combined efforts of volunteers for over 1,000 hours to create this holiday masterpiece, “Celebrate the Light of the World” is surely a sight to see! Some popular features of many visitors include the stunning tunnel of light pulsing to the beat of the music on the radio, the gigantic Christmas trees glittering against the darkened sky, and a proudly displayed American flag guarded by two toy soldiers.


Kandi Kane Lane at the Museum
A new annual event starting this year is Kandi Kane Lane at the Kandiyohi County Historical Society & Museum. The entire museum will be decorated in a candy cane theme. The Emergency Services in the county will compete to see who can decorate a Christmas tree the best. As the visitors travel through Kandi Kane Lane they will get to vote on their favorite decorated tree. The museum will also have a craft area where guests can decorate an ornament to take home or write a letter to Santa. They will also have a holiday scavenger hunt throughout the building that will make the kids even more eager to explore this beautifully decorated museum. And as an added bonus, you can also tour the Sperry House, which will be decorated for the holidays as well. Regular admission rates apply.

Atwater Passport to Christmas
Another annual tradition is the Atwater Passport to Christmas. This will be the third year of this festive event that is scheduled on the first Saturday in December! Start the morning off with a medallion hunt throughout the town with clues posted every hour (4 clues will be given) on the Atwater Festival Committee Facebook page. Then in the afternoon, head over to the ACGC Elementary School for kid’s activities and a Chistmas Market. All are welcome to Immanuel Lutheran Church for a chili soup supper and even more kid’s games! Then everyone gathers to watch the Santa parade starting at the Atwater Community Center and ending in the beautifully lighted Centennial Park. There, kids can meet Santa, enjoy s’mores and hot cocoa and get a free sleigh ride. The grand finale of the event is the winter fireworks at Centennial Park. What a beautiful way to end a great day in Atwater! For the adults, the fun continues at The Handle Bar with a DJ and a tippy cup tournament.


These amazing events are just a taste of what the holidays are like in the Willmar Lakes Area. Plan a visit to see for yourself how magical the holidays can be in Kandiyohi County!

To see all of the area events taking place in and around Kandiyohi County, go to our Events Calendar.

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!

Fishing Report

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.

Trail Report