By: Ann McMullen
In 2001, Nathan Bentley began decorating his house in Esko, MN, for Christmas, making it more extravagant each year. This became quite an attraction in the small town, and drew enough people that it was able to move to Duluth’s Festival Park in 2009.
Since then, this display of Christmas lights has only grown. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are invested in new decorations each year.
Bentleyville’s total attendance reached 330,000 people in 2018, and has likely only increased since then. Still, it is exclusively a walking tour, so you’ll feel the cold Minnesota weather the whole time and get a true “winter wonderland” experience. If you’re lucky, it might even snow during your visit!
A tall cone lit to look like a Christmas tree, which must be at least a hundred feet tall, is Bentleyville’s most long-standing, iconic, and unchanged display. An “#OnlyinMN” sign stands at the base of it, making the tree a popular place to take fun, touristy photos.
Bentleyville remains free to visit, and even provides free cookies and hot chocolate as of last time I was there, but a $10 fee is required to use their parking lots. They also accept donations of non-perishable food and toys to give to people in need.
The attraction is open from 5-9pm on weeknights, and 5-10pm on weekends, and will close for the season on December 26th. If you can’t make it this year, Bentleyville generally opens about a week prior to Thanksgiving annually.
I do enjoy Bentleyville, and think it’s definitely worth a stop if you end up in Duluth over the holidays. That being said, I wouldn’t schedule a trip there for the sole reason of seeing the light show – but I’m sure some holiday enthusiasts might.
The official Bentleyville website can be found at: