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Event Info

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Make Holiday Lights at the Lake your favorite holiday tradition as you drive or walk through West Overlook Campground. This third annual community event boasts just over one mile of large and animated light displays, including a dazzling animated tunnel and many glittering arches and holiday characters.  

Curated by our volunteer committee with the help of a professional lighting company, Winterland Inc., the picturesque setting of West Overlook Campground is transformed into a winter playland. Watch as polar bears dance through Santa's ranch. Delight at our giant poinsettia pot and forest, cheer on your favorite sports, and watch the campground characters sled, chase , and play.

Enchanting "Memory Lane" boasts a colorful array of up-lit trees and serves as a memorial for loved ones lost. Returning for a third year are crowd favorites, "Nighthawks," "Giant Waving Santa," The Tunnel of Lights, and many more!

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Operating Hours
(open nightly)

Sun, Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs


Friday and Saturday


*Wednesday is our walk-through night!

All other nights are drive through.  

Many of our guests bring their own fun to the event with festive cars and fanciful dressing!

The Event Route


West Overlook Campground

West Overlook Rd. NE

Iowa City, Iowa

Holiday Lights at the Lake Event Map

Map Points

1. drive through entrance
2. walk-through Wednesday entrance
3. warming station/concessions (Wednesday Only)
4. warming station/concessions (Wednesday Only)
5. overflow for ticket line (drive through only)
6. walk-through Wednesday parking
6. over flow for ticket line (drive through only)

Holiday Lights at the Lake Directional Sign on the corner of Dubuque St. and West Overlook Rd. in Iowa City

Helpful Hints

We are humbled by all the support from our local and surrounding communities.

We have a few helpful hints and suggestions to consider before heading out to the event:

  • We accept cash only at the door. If you prefer to pay with a credit card, please visit our ticketing site.

  • Wait times on Friday and Saturday evenings, and the week before Christmas, may be a bit longer than weekday nights. On some of our busy evenings, a line may form in the West Overlook Day Use parking lot. Portable restrooms will be available in the upper and lower parking lots if needed. We appreciate your understanding and patience with our volunteers! In 2022, we were able to keep wait times below 20 minutes! 

  • We anticipate it will take you about 15 minutes to drive through the route. On Walk-Through Wednesday (every Wednesday between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve) it takes an average of 45-60 minutes to walk the entire route. However, we encourage our walking guests to spend as much time as they wish in the campground during operating hours!

  • For our returning friends, you will notice there is a change of direction in the lower part of our route. Do not fret! Our helpful traffic volunteers will be on-site to navigate you!

  • The lights are not set to a specific radio or music station. We suggest making a playlist of your favorite holiday music or tuning into one of the local stations that play holiday music around the clock.

  • Upon arriving at the ticket house, we suggest putting your vehicle headlights in the low beam or parking settings. Unfortunately, you can not turn your headlights off completely.

  • On walk-through Wednesday, holiday music plays throughout the campground . You're welcome to stay as long as you want during operating hours. We have complimentary parking in the West Overlook Day Use parking lot. Pedal Power is also available to give complimentary rides to guests who would like to enjoy the open-air atmosphere of the walk-through event without walking.  Gates close at 8:30.

    • In efforts to enhance safety and convenience, ticketing and entrance for walk-through Wednesday will now take place in the West Overlook Day Use area. Our helpful elves will be on-site to direct traffic!

    • NEW FOR 2023! *Wednesday's Only* Fire-pit warming stations and goodwill donation concessions will be offered! All proceeds from the sale of concessions benefit Friends of the Coralville Lake

  • Santa Claus is a close personal friend of the Holiday Lights at the Lake Committee and stops by our event every Wednesday and Sunday until Christmas. If you catch him on a Wednesday night, he's usually available for photo opportunities and may even have Mrs. Claus with him!

  • Bring your letters to Santa and drop them in the mailbox near Santa's Workshop. We will make sure he gets them in time for Christmas!

  • All proceeds benefit The Bird House, Hospice Home of Johnson County.

  • This event is run 100% by community volunteers! We thank you for your patience and always appreciate your feedback. Please send any comments to


We are so thankful for The Army Corps of Engineers and all their help! We couldn't do this without you!

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Walk-Through Wednesday Partners

Holiday Lights at the Lake is excited to partner with Friends of the Coralville Lake (FOCL) during our walk-through Wednesday events! 

The Friends of Coralville Lake (FOCL) is a non-profit partner with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) and local organizations interested in the well-being of Coralville Lake. FOCL is committed to enhancing the recreational and aesthetic values of the area it serves, by connecting the people of the local community with the land through its three core values: communication, education, and conservation. They are currently working to complete a feasibility study and launch a larger, multi-year fundraising campaign that will allow them to address the extremely high sedimentation rates at the north end of the lake. Their goal is for the lake to be here for future generations to continue to enjoy for many, many years. 

Join Holiday Lights at the Lake and the Friends of the Coralville Lake for a fun and memorable event every Wednesday. Not only will you enjoy breathtaking light displays and fresh air, you'll also have the opportunity to purchase concessions at a suggested donation price and enjoy fire-pit warming stations for roasting s'mores and warming your hands. 

All proceeds and donations collected at the concessions and warming stations will go directly to Friends of the Coralville Lake to support their efforts in preserving and protecting the natural beauty and wildlife in the Coralville Lake area. We appreciate your generosity and support in helping them reach our fundraising goal.

Together, we can make a difference.

Friends of the Coralville Lake Logo
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