Experience the Joy of Winter Lights

Winter Lights


Admission to Winter Lights is FREE for members, no tickets required.

Non-members can save time at the gate house by purchasing their admission tickets in advance. Online admission tickets are valid for use 30 days from the date of purchase. To buy your tickets today, click here! If possible, please print your tickets so we getting guests through the gatehouse can be expedited, thank you.

Open November 22 - Jan 5
Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays 

(No Lights Monday - Thursday)
Additional Dates and Hours can be found below.

Come and enjoy our walking tour through a gallery of dazzling seasonal lights. Winter Lights at the Arboretum is a nod to the past, present and future work of researchers at the University of Minnesota and their work to introduce cold hardy plants that will thrive in our Minnesota climate. Five of the twenty displays feature plants that the University researchers are actively working on to create plants that will continue to thrive as our climate changes.

Transportation to Winter Lights

  • Free SouthWest Transit Shuttle every Friday and Saturday! The shuttle does not run on Sundays. Never wait in line and get door-to-door service. See details in the drop-down menu below.
  • Self-parking on site is extremely limited. Please consider using SouthWest Transit shuttles - information here.
  • Visitors and members are encouraged to carpool whenever possible.
winter lights map



Winter Lights at the Arb Hours
Open Nov. 22-Jan. 5
Friday: 5-9 p.m.
Saturday: 5-9 p.m.
Sunday: 5-9 p.m.


Additional Dates
Dec. 23, 26 & 30
Jan. 1 & 2


Ticked Event Dates
Milk and Cookies with Santa, Dec. 12 & 19 (see event details here)
NYE Party December 31 (see event details here)


Admission to Winter Lights

Admission to Winter Lights

Winter Lights is included with all regular daily admission tickets


  • Free!
    Just show up and show your membership card or e-membership app at the gatehouse, no need to register!

Buy a membership today to get this fantastic deal.


  • $15 for adults ages 16 and older
  • Free for children 15 and younger.

Non-member visitors can help save time at the gate house by purchasing their admission tickets online in advance. Online admission tickets are valid for use 30 days from the date of purchase. To buy your online tickets today, click



Winter Lights Menu


The Arboretum café in the Oswald Visitor Center will be open during Winter Lights offering beverages, grab and go snacks, hot soups and weekly menu specials.

Nov. 22-24: Burger and Fries (Impossible Burger)

Nov. 29-Dec.1: Mac and Cheese (3 cheese)

Dec.6-8: Lasagna (vegetarian option)

Dec. 13-15 - Pulled Pork/Jack Fruit BBQ Sandwich on Brioche Bun and tater tots

Dec. 20-22: Thai Curry with choice of Chicken or Tofu

Dec. 27-29: Fried Chicken/vegetarian chick’n with Mashed Potatoes

Jan. 3-5: Spahgetti and Meatballs (vegetarian option) 


Dec. 23rd, 26th, 30th and 31st and Jan. 1st and 2nd: Chef's Choice

Winter Lights Display Areas

Winter Lights Display Areas

Winter Lights Display Areas

Indoor Displays

  1. The Oswald Visitor Center with 24-foot tall poinsettia tree sponsored by Wagner’s, 20-foot tall pines decorated with nature-inspired ornaments, stars and fairy lights make up the stunning indoor centerpiece of Winter Lights. Come inside to warm up, shop the Gift & Garden Store, fuel up on warm dinner offerings at the Arboretum Café and be amazed by the holiday décor! Perfect place for family pictures.

Winter decor is displayed throughout the buildings, from the Great Hall to the Conservatory 

  1. The Meyer-Deats Conservatory will be awash in lush blooms and winter lights. 


Outdoor Displays

An Expanded 14 Vignette Walking Tour Featuring the Botanically-Inspired Displays That Showcase the Cold Hardy Research and Plants from the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s Horticultural Research Center.

1) Winter Wonderland (Dahlberg Terrace)

White Lights, woodland creatures and rustic wagons make for fun photo ops with friends and family.

2) Chrysanthemum Corridor (Path behind Snyder Building) 

Enjoy the beauty of lighted chrysanthemums to start the walking tour! The University's mum breeding program began in the 1920s and is one of the oldest public sector breeding programs in the world and the only one in North America. Read more here.

3) Wintercraft Fire and Ice by Jennifer Shea Hedberg (Morgan Terrace)

Incredible local ice artist Jennifer Shea Hedberg, aka The Ice  Wrangler, has created an exclusive set of gorgeous ice lanterns featuring natural flora gathered on the Arboretum grounds. Take a seat on the lighted throne surrounded by Hedberg’s amazing floral ice lanterns lit and staged for great photos! An incredibly beautiful vignette!  Her DIY book and kits about making ice luminaries are available in the Gift & Garden Store.

4) Epic Light Show (Tea Room Terrace)  

Back for a third year by popular demand, enjoy an amazing, syncopated light show, a favorite of kids and kids at heart! Thanks to Ryan Kasper-Cook and his company, Epic Lights. The show is on the Back Wall of the Snyder Building.

5) Frozen Falls (Waterfall area) 

The incredibly beautiful Water Lily sculptures made in Greece especially for the Arboretum are returning to the frozen falls. They were the most photographed vignette last year. New this year will be rushing waters created by glistening lights. A fan favorite!

6) Arboretum Apple Orchard

Honor the incredible achievements of the University of Minnesota apple breeders in this beautiful new display that is a tribute to the 28 commercial varieties developed and their influence across the globe! The desire for locally grown, fresh and delicious food resonated with the early plant breeders at the University of Minnesota. The drive for better plants in a challenging climate started soon after the Agricultural Experiment Station was created in 1887 with the quest for a cold hardy apple. 

Since the apple-breeding program began at the University of Minnesota in 1888, 28 apple varieties have been released. Read more here.

Highlighted in our display: 

The four apples in the Perennial garden quadrants represent Minnehaha, First Kiss, Zestar and SweeTango. The star of the garden is the apple tree representing Honeycrisp.

Minnehaha Apple: This apple was the University’s first introduction. While it’s no longer commercially available, we’re celebrating its 100th birthday in 2020.

First Kiss® (known as Rave® when grown outside of Minnesota): Extraordinarily juicy, this spritely tart and deeply colored apple ripens early but will store for up to five months post-harvest. Hardy to Zone 4A. Introduced in 2017.

Zestar!®: The most outstanding feature of a Zestar apple is its sprightly sweet-tart taste with a hint of brown sugar. And, unlike other early season apples that are often soft or mealy, Zestar is juicy with a light, crisp texture. Just one bite, and you will savor the zesty flavor and crunch.

SweeTango®: Juicy and sweet with hints of fall spices. This apple's flavor, balanced by vibrant acidity, dances to a long and satisfying finish on the palate. It also inherited great qualities from its parents: a crisp texture from Honeycrisp and juiciness from Zestar!®.

The Star of the display is Honeycrisp, the University of Minnesota's game-changing apple that is one of the most popular in the world. Millions have been sold to people who love the well-balanced sweet-tart taste, and explosively crisp, juicy texture.

'Honeycrisp' was named the Minnesota State Fruit in 2006. This honor was bestowed for several reasons. It is a great tasting apple. It is a very popular apple. And, it helped revive a declining apple growing industry and brought much needed revenue to small to medium sized, family-run orchards. Because of the broad appeal of 'Honeycrisp's' flavor and texture, it sells at a premium price.

7) Winter Wedding

Climb to the top of the elevated wedding tower for a selfie of you with friends, family or maybe your future bride or groom. (Hint, hint: The Arboretum is host to hundreds of weddings each year, we would love to be the setting for your engagement or wedding this year.)

                                MVEC Logo


8) Arbor Lights (Cloister Garden Arch) 

Walk through this light immersion experience and delight in its beauty!

9) S’mores Village (Home Demo Rest Stop)

 Don’t miss the new location for our S’Mores Village, about half way into the walking tour.  Stop and warm up by the fire pits, smell the fragrance of burning wood and purchase a treat. Packages of 4 S’mores are for sale for $5. (Cash and credit cards accepted.) 

10) Winter Azalea Garden 

Another new botanically-inspired display, this time heralding the University of Minnesota’s groundbreaking work that allowed beautiful azaleas to thrive in our northern climate! In 1957 work began on creating the hardy azaleas that we know today. The 'Lights' series of azaleas brings the colors of the tropics to Minnesota's early spring landscape. Read more here

11) Holiday Hosta Garden (Hosta Garden) 

In warm seasons, you can see more than 200 different kinds of hostas in this area. Now we have this popular perennials highlighted with fairy lights!, Hostas are reliable and hardy with endless combinations of leaf color, shape, and texture.

12) Festive Forsythia Garden

See this beautiful yellow bush featured in another new botanical vignette! The bright yellow flowers of forsythia appear before the leaves, signaling the arrival of spring. 'Northern Sun' was bred to flower in early spring despite cold temperatures. A forsythia's vigorous growth makes it suitable for screens and bank plantings. 'Northern Sun' thrives in full sun and tolerates poor soil. Read more here.

13) Luminary Rock Garden (Rock Garden) 

14) Winter Rose Garden

The first rose breeding efforts at the University were an offshoot of the successful chrysanthemum project in the 1940s. Four super-hardy shrub roses—known as Northern Accents™ ‘Sven,’ ‘Ole,’ ‘Lena,’ and ‘Sigrid’—grow to more than three feet tall, covered in a profusion of clustered blooms all season.The showy ‘Summer Waltz’ rose, released in 2012, is covered with double-cupped frilly pink flowers, blooming throughout the season until frost. The lightly fragrant flowers fade to light pink as they age. ‘Summer Waltz’ is available only at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Auxiliary Plant Sale each May. Read more here.

Additional outdoor displays

  • Sugar Plum Forest - This festive display of trees entertains visitors on Alkire Drive as they enter and exit Winter Lights.  
  • Gnome Village - 22 child-sized Gnomes encircle the Snyder Pond.  
  • Clarencetown Lights - Winter Lights shines additional lights on this festive red sculpture by John R. Henry.
  • YouBetcha Winter Lights - Enjoy the beauty of Patrick Dougherty’s willow structure on Scarecrow Hill with thousands of twinkling lights shining from all sides. Take the accessible pathway around the hilltop for views from all angles and then walk through YouBetcha for a magical experience.






Southwest Transit Shuttle

Southwest Transit Shuttle

New This Year! Take a free Southwest Transit shuttle to Winter Lights. Hop on the shuttle at the East Creek Station, Chaska Transit (2120 Chestnut St. N., Chaska) on Fridays and Saturdays during Winter Lights. 

(link: https://www.swtransit.org/how-to-ride/park-and-ride/east-creek-transit-s...)

The first bus will leave Southwest East Creek Station at 4:30pm and last bus will return from the Arboretum at 9pm each night.

To take advantage of this shuttle service:

  •  Park at East Creek Station
  •  Check in with the Arboretum staff on-site at East Creek Station:
  •  Arboretum members – show your Arboretum membership card
  •  Non-members – show your pre-purchased gate admission confirmation email with scan code


  • Non-members – purchase gate admission ($15 for ages 16 and over, free for
  • children 15 and under). Credit card purchases only – the attendant will not carry
  • cash
  •  The Arboretum staff members will give riders a ticket to board the next bus. No ticket is needed for return trip from the Arboretum back to the East Creek Station



For any further questions about Winter Lights, Winter in Bloom, or any other concern, please contact the Arboretum Information Desk at 612-624-2200 and our support staff will take care of you!