Metro-East Living

Way of Lights at the shrine and Lebanon’s Winter Wonderland start Friday

Tail lights streak through one of the displays at the The Way of Lights. The National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows is located on Illinois State route 15 east and De Mazenod Dr. in Belleville.
Tail lights streak through one of the displays at the The Way of Lights. The National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows is located on Illinois State route 15 east and De Mazenod Dr. in Belleville. dholtmann@bnd.com

Looking for a light show to get your family in the holiday spirit? The 46th annual Way of Lights at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows and Lebanon’s Winter Wonderland are two of the best in the St. Louis area.

Both begin this weekend and continue throughout December. Here’s what you need to know before you go:

Way of Lights

What: More than 1 million lights and electro-art sculptures illuminate a 1.5-mile route depicting the Journey to Bethlehem. The route includes light tunnels, a city scene and illuminated passages from the Gospel. The culminating scene is an outcropping of rock framing a nativity scene.

When: Friday through Jan. 1. Hours are 5-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 5-10 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Years Day. (Outdoor light display will remain open.) The drive-through takes about 1/2 hour when there is no traffic; allow more time when it get busy. The line can be long.

Where: National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, off Illinois 15 southwest of Belleville.

Admission: Free. Donations are accepted.

Other attractions

Outdoors: Camel ($6), donkey and pony rides; petting zoo; kettle corn and refreshments.

Carriage rides: Available Sunday through Friday, with the first ride starting at 5:30 p.m. Cost: $65 for six-person carriage; $100 for 10-person wagon; $10 per person to split the wagon. To reserve a carriage ride, call 636-549-4610 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Visitor’s Center: Decorated wreaths will be on display throughout the halls; an auction is from Friday through Dec. 20. The Peppy Puppet Troupe will present “The Angel,” a free 30-minute performance with photo opportunity after each performance, at 5, 6, 7 and 8 p.m. Tuesdays and 4 and 5 p.m. Sundays. The Visitor’s Center also features souvenir photos you can purchase and a Christmas tree display. Choirs and other groups will perform each night.

The Guild Center: You can see images of Christmas in Legos, including a life-size nativity built with the blocks. Admission is $7 for adults; $5 for children 4 and up; free for 3 and under. A children’s play area is free. You can purchase raffle tickets (one for $2 or six tickets for $10) to win a Lego tree with more than 45 Lego ornaments.

Family Night Tuesdays: Bring the family and receive discounts on activities. Discounts include: kettle corn, 50 cents off any size; $1 off camel rides; $2 off Lego display for adult and child; and buy one, get one free on carrots to feed to the animals.

Winter Wonderland

What: If you are looking for millions of lights set to the latest heart-thumping music, you are in the wrong place. This display of a few thousand lights is a family friendly, nostalgic look back in time with just a hint of modern day on an 8/10 of a mile route.

Hand-painted scenes depict several area attractions and childhood memories. There is a Salute to the Military display, a life-size nativity, a Recognition of Midwest Farmers Display, a Penguin Village, a Gingerbread Town, Santa’s Workshop, In Memory of Angels and a dancing lights show with programmed music sequences. (Tune your radio to 90.5 FM.)

When: Friday through Jan. 3. 5-9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 5-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Where: Hoerner Park, 11113 Widicus Road, Lebanon.

Admission: Free. Donations accepted.

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