Sparkle In The Parks & More
December is upon us again. Darkness descends early, and the nights seem so much longer. Fortunately, the advent of holiday light displays brings a bit of brightness and cheer to cold winter nights.
No matter where you live, chances are there is a local, county or city park nearby that offers a holiday light display. Some are drive-thru only, some are walking tours.
And, if all else fails, just take an evening stroll through your neighborhood, or a drive through your local area, and enjoy the displays of family, friends and neighbors.
Several of the annual Milwaukee area favorites are back again this year, with plenty of other festive displays throughout the state. Be sure to watch your local news sources for information on festivities in your area as well. Here's wishing you a cheerful holiday season!
Winter Wonders - Whitnall Park/Boerner Botanical Gardens
This holiday event is back for year four, with new displays, concert lighting, and a whopping one million lights. It features dramatic lighting techniques and displays set throughout the 1.4 mile-long drive-through route at Boerner Botanical Gardens in Whitnall Park.
Open Nightly, with special sponsor events and giveaways each weekend. Check the schedule for details. Recommended to purchase tickets online. Season Passes are now available as well. Peak wait times on Fridays, Saturdays, and holiday weeks. For lower wait times, visit Sunday-Thursday evenings after 7:30 pm.
Open 5-pm to 10-pm every night through December 31st, including holidays. This is a drive-thru only display. Admission packages vary. Visit the tickets page for more details.
Wild Lights at The Milwaukee County Zoo
Bring the family and stroll through twinkling light displays at the Milwaukee County Zoo. This year's presentations will be even bigger and brighter than ever! Several of the animal buildings will be open for visiting guests on select nights, as well.
If you'd prefer to drive through the show, special drive-thru dates are offered this year, on December 3, 10, 17, 18, and 19. Tickets for drive-thru must be purchased in advance. More details are available here.
The event runs from December 1 - 31, with the exception of: Dec. 4, 5, 11, 12, 24, and 25. Evenings: 5:30 - 9:00pm (Admission gate close at 8:15pm) Tickets can be purchased online (special values available), or at the entrance gate.
Rates vary depending on membership status, etc., however, Parking Is Included. Visit the ticket site for more details.
Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival
Downtown Milwaukee will truly shine as it celebrates 25 years of holiday lights and festive events this year. Twinkling lights and sculptures aglow with seasonal cheer are available to all at Cathedral Square Park, Pere Marquette Park, and Zeidler Union Square. The festival runs through January 1, 2024.
You can walk or drive-thru to experience the festive displays of over 500,000 lights as animated sculptures, interactive displays, and twinkling street decorations boost your holiday mood. Or purchase tickets in advance and grab a ride on the Jingle Bus for a 40-minute tour of all the lights and sights Thursday through Sunday nights. Tickets for the Jingle Bus are $5 per person, and must be purchased in advance.
New this year is an Ornament Trail, which includes 15 larger than life artful adornments along Wisconsin Avenue, between 10th Street and Prospect Avenue. Businesses along the route will offer specials throughout the season, as well.
For a complete listing of events, pricing, and other details, you can download the festival brochure here.
Milwaukee Domes Holiday Show: A Holiday Snow Globe
Visiting the Milwaukee Domes is always an event, but the holiday show is a perennial favorite. Enjoy hundreds of beautiful pointsettias on display among festive twinkling trees and lights. The display is currently open and runs through January 7, 2023.
Regular Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, 9am-5pm. Saturday/Sunday, 9am-4pm.
Beginning on December 13, through December 31, the Domes will be open every day, even Tuesdays.
Special late night at the domes events (Open until 8pm) will be held on December 19 and 26. On those nights music and light shows will be featured, at 5, 6, 7, and 7:30 pm. For a complete list of holiday hours, click here.
Story telling events will also be held on December 3, 10, and 16. Also on December 16, David HB Drake will present a music show. On December 19, a special dance presentation will be performed by the Ko-Thi Dance Company.
Tickets can be purchased at the door. Admission Fees between $6-$9 depending on age, and county of residence. Children under 2 yrs old admitted free of charge.
Candy Cane Lane - West Allis
This annual event of neighborhood light displays takes donations for the MACC Fund, and has set a goal this year of $150,000 for the fight against childhood cancer.
These festive displays, all created by community residents, will cheer you and yours. The neighborhood parameters are: 96th Street to 92nd Street, from Montana Avenue to Oklahoma Avenue.
Drive or walk through this holiday season, the event runs through December 25. See their website for specific hours and more detail.
Enchantment in the Park - West Bend
This holiday light treat in Regner Park, in West Bend, has been an annual event since 2009. The displays offer both a walk-thru and drive-thru experience. Your choice.
Sponsored by the local Washington County area Rotary Clubs, this festive display is a fundraiser for local food banks. Admission is a suggested $10 donation, or non-perishable food items (no glass containers, please).
In addition to the holiday light displays, there will be musical entertainment, along with food and drink concessions. The festival runs through December 24, and is open from 5-pm to 9-pm daily (6-pm to 9pm on December 9). See the event calendar for special features and events.
Holiday Light Show - Rotary Botanical Gardens, Janesville
Back for the 27th year, this brilliant holiday event is held on the grounds of the Janesville Rotary Gardens. Themed light displays, animations, and twinkling walkways will lift your holiday spirits with over one-million holiday lights.
We attended this event a few years back, and it was well worth the drive to Janesville. However, it's a very well attended event. Be sure to check their schedule for details on purchasing tickets in advance to secure a time spot for your visit. Tickets prices: Free for 2 and under. $5 for children 3-12, $12 for those 13 and up.
Dates: Dec. 7-10, Dec. 14-23, Dec. 26-30. Evenings: 4:30-pm to 9-pm. (Last admission at 8:30pm, lights go dark at 9pm)
Reservations/Tickets required purchase online in advance.
Beaver Dam Rotary Lights - Swan City Park, Beaver Dam
This charming holiday light display marks the 7th year of cheer sponsored by the Rotary Club of Beaver Dam. The park square, located in the heart of Beaver Dam, features a walkways of Christmas trees decorated with seasonal flair by local businesses and organizations. The bandshell has an orchestra of lit of trees accompanied by holiday music.
Lights go on at 4:45pm each day, and remain lit until midnight. Plenty of time to take a stroll through solo, or with friends and family in tow. Admission is free, however, donations are being accepted to raise funds for restoration of the Historic Springhouse structure in the park.
The event runs through January 2, 2024.
Parking spots are located along the street surrounding the square.
23 MORE HOLIDAY LIGHT EVENTS ACROSS THE STATE