Are you looking for a way to light up your life this holiday season? Perhaps you could use a little inspiration on ways to decorate your house for the holidays, or just want to appreciate someone else’s hard work this year. We at Duluth.com have you covered with details on which mansions and neighborhoods to check out this season, and we’ve also included info about the holly-jolliest option of all – Bentleyville!


Whether you’re in Duluth or Superior, there is a historical site (both of which are former homes) oozing with rich local history, and eager for your visit. Both Fairlawn and Glensheen mansions will be all decked out and glittering for the holidays.


Fairlawn Mansion was built in 1891 as the family home for lumber and mining baron Martin Pattison, along with his wife, Grace, and their six children. This extraordinary Queen Anne Victorian house, featuring a four-story turret complete with a widow’s watch overlooking the bay, also features gilded murals on the ceilings, a grand entrance hall, marble and tile fireplaces, and original leaded and stained glass windows.

Along with all of these intricate details, you can take in the sparkle of the beautifully decorated Fairlawn Mansion after dark at your own pace during Fairlawn’s twinkling Tuesdays. On Dec. 13, 20, and 27 Fairlawn will offer festive Tuesday evening open houses. Guests are welcome to sample hot cider and seasonal treats as they explore all three floors of this beautiful home. Hosts scattered throughout the house will be sharing Victorian customs and stories. Doors open at 6 pm. For more information, call (715) 394-5712.


Perched on the rugged shores of Lake Superior, Glensheen Mansion is the most visited historic home in Minnesota. The home was built for attorney and capitalist Chester Congdon, his wife Clara, and their seven children, over a three-year span between 1905 and 1908.
The 12-acre Jacobean Revival-style estate includes gardens and bridges, in addition to the 27,000 square foot, 39-room mansion. With rooms trimmed in walnut, mahogany, and cypress, original stenciling in the hallways, and wall and ceiling coverings made of wool, silk, and gold leaf, Glensheen is a sight to behold.

Around Christmas time, Glensheen offers Christmas Classic tours, which are all self-guided. Visitors are allowed to view the incredible details of the home, including the basement and first and second levels of the mansion, all on their own. With this tour, a few treats are included, including free hot chocolate and coffee made by The Duluth Coffee Company. The dedicated staff at Glensheen will prepare for your arrival by decorating the house with lights, garland and 25 Christmas trees. The tours will run through New Year’s Day. Contact Glensheen at (218) 726-8910 to learn more.

RELATED: Check out our Glensheen 360 Christmas Tour (Video)


Billed as America’s Largest Free Walk-Through Lighting Display, Duluth’s own Bentleyville invites guests to stroll together under the glow of more than four million lights in a 20-acre park situated on the shores of Lake Superior.
Complimentary hot cocoa, cookies, popcorn and roasted marshmallows are all part of the experience. And, it doesn’t end with the tour; children (and the young at heart) can get their photo taken with Rudolph, share their Christmas wishes with Santa, and Mrs. Claus will even be present to tell stories and hand out candy canes!

It all started in 2001, when Nathan Bentley first began decorating his home in Esko for the holiday season. For the next two years, he continually added more lights to create a larger holiday lighting display; his home quickly became known as the “House with all of the lights in
Esko.” In 2003, Nathan changed his light display from a drive-by event to a walkthrough, with Santa Claus visiting on weekends. Since Nathan was already going overboard, a friend sarcastically started to call it Bentleyville (referencing Dr. Seuss’s town of Whoville). The name caught on with visitors and in 2003, the Bentleyville Tour of Lights was born.

In the fall of 2008, Nathan Bentley received a phone call from Duluth Mayor Don Ness’ office, inviting him to a meeting to discuss hosting Bentleyville at Bayfront Festival Park in Duluth. Nathan thought the new location would be a good fit for Bentleyville . . . and the rest is history.

Bentleyville is an official collection site for the Salvation Army. Visitors are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item or a new, unwrapped toy when they visit. These gifts will be distributed to the Salvation Army sites in Duluth, Cloquet, Virginia, Grand Rapids, Hibbing,
International Falls, MN and Superior, WI. Please visit bentleyvilleusa.com for information and hours.

RELATED: Duluth.com visits Bentleyville (video)



We certainly don’t want to forget the regular folks who may not live in a mansion, but have put their hearts and souls into decorating for the holidays. And, while we can’t confirm whether or not all of these prior winners from Duluth and Superior will participate again in 2016, keep in mind that once you are bitten with the holiday decorating bug, it’s hard not to scratch that itch again and again.

Previous Duluth Participants/Winners:

  • 3739 South Lake Ave., Duluth
  • 1126 Anderson Rd, Duluth
  • The 1200 block of 93rd Ave. West (in Morgan Park), Duluth
  • 1421 104th Ave. West, Duluth
  • 2725 Exhibition Dr., Duluth
  • 202 East McGonagle St., Duluth
  • 5649 Martin Rd, Duluth

A few Past Participants and Winners from Soup-Town:

  • 2015 Wyoming Ave., Superior
  • 2101 East Third St., Superior
  • 1830 East 10th St., Superior
  • 2319 Susquehanna Ave., Superior

Whether you prefer a ground level, in-depth holiday lighting tour, or prefer to cruise around enjoying the sights from the cozy comfort of your car, this season’s twinkling lights will be in fullforce in the Northland this holiday season. Inspiring the perfect setting for a romantic date night, evening of family fun, or a great way to show off to visiting guests, consider checking out the holiday lights this season!