Guide to Manhattan’s Festival of Lights


One of our favorite Manhattan events is the Festival of Lights, the annual tree lighting celebration and what feels like the official start to the holiday season!

My kids will forever talk about the way Santa flew in, over the Discovery Center, and landed on the top of the hotel. Or the way the lights look through the special glasses. It is truly a magical experience!

The festival began after a group of business owners and community leaders came together to form Whoville, Inc. Together they create this beloved family tradition in the Little Apple, which is entirely funded by donations from individuals and businesses.

The Annual Festival of Lights will be held the day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 24, with Santa lighting the tree at Blue Earth Plaza at 7 p.m. Come early for hot chocolate by the fire, music from local choirs and other holiday festivities.

Mom Tips

Arrive early as parking can be challenging, especially if the weather is nice! Showing up early means you get to secure your hot chocolate before the main event.

Stay for the light show, which dances to the music broadcast on 88.1 FM.

Come back and shop local on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. See our local shopping guide for our favorite local stores!

The show will be available until Jan. 2, 2024. Consider coming back in the day time for great photo backdrops as well!

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Sarah McGinnity
Sarah is owner of Manhattan Moms and is passionate about encouraging and connecting moms - we weren't meant to do this alone! She grew up in Manhattan graduated from Manhattan High and K-State, worked for newspapers and for several marketing departments, and eventually got her master's in public administration. Sarah and her husband, Shea, have four kids - Henry (12), Clark (9), Lucy (7) and Caroline (1). She enjoys reading historical fiction, beating her kids at board games and traveling as often as possible.


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