DULUTH, Minn. (WCCO) — ‘Tis the season for decking the halls, and there’s no shortage of places in Minnesota to check out some spectacular lights.
You voted and sent Natalie Nyhus to your favorite holiday light display. With 3.5 million lights, Bentleyville Tour of Lights in Duluth is your winner.READ MORE: Como Park H.S. Student About To Take Flight As J-ROTC Cadet
If you want to get in the spirit of the season, there’s a little town that’s sure to make you feel merry and bright.
“It’s an over the top free lightshow. Guaranteed they’ve never experienced it before,” Nathan Bentley, creator of Bentleyville Tour of Lights in Duluth, said.
It only appears for six weeks. But in that time, people will travel hundreds of miles for the magic.
“Well, it wasn’t planned. Put a lot of lights up at my house. Somebody started facetiously calling it “Bentleyville,’ thinking I was getting out of control with my lights,” Bentley said. “And 12 years later, we’re an out of control hobby with an awful lot of people.”
This year, Nathan and his team expect up to 270,000 people to walk through his city of lights. That’s pretty incredible considering the entire population of Duluth is 86,000.
“We’ve seen more and more people driving 300, 400, 500 miles now to see Bentleyville than ever before,” he said.READ MORE: Behind-The-Scenes Of Wildlife Science Center's Mission To Learn All About Wolves
Visitors walk through 3.5 million lights, stopping by the island of Misfit Toys and waving hi to Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. They travel through twinkling tunnels to gaze upon the majestic Christmas tree.
“This tree stands 128 feet tall, it has 100,000 LED lights that we have zip tied on to the chicken wire,” Bentley said. “This is the only one there is in the United States.”
You’ll see Mrs. Bentley on site along with their four kids. As they’ve grown, so has Bentleyville.
“It’s our life (laughs), all year long,” Abbey Bentley, Nathan’s daughter, said. “We’re always talking about Bentleyville and what new displays and what we’re doing next.”
Every night, there are 60 volunteers on site tending the fire pits, serving cookies, coffee, cocoa and popcorn; all free. It’s no surprise this is one of Santa’s favorite hangouts.
“Santa loves being here. You’re right outside in the elements. This is the weather he’s used to,” Bentley said.
Everything at Bentleyville is free, including admission. It’s also a food shelf donation site.
“We know we touch a lot of lives,” Bentley said. “People like to make memories here.”MORE NEWS: How Can You Tell If You're Truly Burning Out? What Can You Do About It?
Bentleyville is open daily at 5 p.m., but beware that weekends can be very busy. Your other favorite spots to see holiday lights are Kiwanis in Mankato and Rice Park in St. Paul.