Local Holiday Events for Your Merry Little Sensory Seeker

“Sensory Seekers” is a phrase used to describe those whose sensory system craves more input than the average person. It’s a common trait in children with sensory processing disorders like ASD or ADHD. Sensory-seekers are often drawn to stimuli like loud noises, bright lights, fast movements, rough textures, strong smells, or intense tastes.

If your child falls into the sensory-seeking category, there are many opportunities to fill that sensory need with local holiday events. Here are a few of our favorites!

Des Moines Metro Events

Event: Jingle in the Junction | Location: Historic Valley Junction

Date & Time: December 14th from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.

This holiday season stop by historic Valley Junction! Many local businesses are extending their hours on Thursday nights to give you more time to find the perfect holiday gift, grab a dinner out, and enjoy three blocks of free entertainment on 5th Street under the glow of over 100,000 holiday lights.

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Event: Winter Wonderscape Holiday Light Show | Location: Reiman Gardens

Date & Time: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings in December 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Winter Wonderscape Holiday Light Show is back for its third year and better than ever with an outdoor walk-through holiday light show featuring a variety of immersive light displays throughout the entire 17-acre site. Walkthrough brightly lit tunnels, meander through fantasy lights falling like stars, view massive disco balls twirling to laser lights and enjoy a twenty-foot-wide fountain of lights and a wide array of other sparkling wonders.

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Event: A Charlie Brown Christmas | Location: Des Moines Playhouse

Date & Time: December 2-17. Check for Times. 

The classic animated television special A Charlie Brown Christmas comes to life in this faithful stage adaptation in which Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the rest of the gang discover the true meaning of Christmas.

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Event: Holiday Hullabaloo | Location: 10320 Hickman Rd, Clive, IA 50325

Date & Time: December Fridays & Saturdays 10:00 am to 9:00 pm, Sundays 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. December 24th from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. December 26th – 30th from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. December 31st from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. 

Transport yourself to a winter wonderland at Holiday Hullabaloo. Step foot inside a life-size gingerbread house, work off some holiday stress at the snowball fight arena, slide around the sock skating rink, decorate cookies at Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen, and make a stop at Santa’s Workshop. There are also special events happening throughout the month including Breakfast with Santa, pictures with Santa, Noon Year’s Eve, and more.

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The flip side: Sensory-Friendly Holiday Fun

Event: Lights at the Museum: Sensory Sensitive Playdate | Location: Des Moines Children’s Museum

Date & Time: December 22nd from 5:00 pm to 6:00pm

Sensory bins, communication boards, a low-light calming space, and special lights at the Museum with holiday lights lighting up the exhibits.

Twin Cities Region

Event: Spirit of Winter Festival of Lights | Location: Sovereign Estate – 9950 North Shore Rd, Waconia, MN 55387

Date & Time: November 17th – December 30th from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm (Closed Mondays and Christmas Eve) 

All-ages walking stroll or trolley ride through holiday lights displays and more outdoor attractions plus food and beverage for purchase at the winery. Admission tickets: $10/pp. Trolley tickets are $5/pp available only onsite. 

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Event: GLOW Holiday Festival | Location: CHS Field – 360 N. Broadway St., St. Paul, MN 55101

Date & Time: November 16th – December 31st doors open at 5:00pm

A one-mile walk-thru experience with a dozen seasonal scenes featuring over a million-holiday lights, a 100-foot illuminated tree, icicle and art installations, a festive gingerbread house, and other attractions. Tickets: $12.75-$20.75/pp.

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Event: Schultz Family Lights/Holiday Lights on York | Location: 1526 York Ave. St. Paul, MN 55106

Date & Time: Black Friday – December 31st from 5:00 pm to 10:00pm

Comprised of 11 yards on both sides of the street dancing to holiday favorites you can listen to on your car radio. Synchronized to 91.5. Collecting food shelf donations for the holiday season.

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