Thanksgiving is almost here and it’s time to get in the holiday spirit! The numerous holiday light events and displays around the area are certain to do the trick. There are several places in Wisconsin that create magical holiday light displays that are fun for all ages. I’ve been to the displays in the Madison and Milwaukee Areas and the others are on my holiday-event wishlist. All displays listed in the post have received great reviews from friends and family and come highly recommended. Share your favorite holiday lights in the comments.
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Holiday Light Displays in Wisconsin:
Holiday Fantasy in Lights (Madison)
Location: Olin Park – 1156 Olin Court, Madison, WI 53715
Dates: November 11 – December 31, 2023
Time: Lights on every night Dusk till Dawn, Candy canes available 4:30pm until 10pm each night
Price: Free (donations accepted)
Highlights: Holiday Fantasy in Lights is a popular and fun drive-through event held annually at Olin Park in Madison, WI. The park boasts more than 50 light displays sponsored by various local business. One of my favorite displays is the light-up tooth, sponsored unsurprisingly by a local dentist office. The line through the park can get very long, especially closer to the holidays so I suggest going later in the evening if possible to hopefully avoid the lines.
Holiday Light Show (Janesville)
Location: Rotary Botanical Gardens – 1455 Palmer Drive, Janesville, WI 53545
Dates: November 24 – December 30, 2023
Time: 4:30pm – 8:30pm (lights off at 9pm)
Price: Adults: $15, Children ages 3-12: $5, Children ages 2 & under: Free
Highlights: 2023 will be the Rotary Botanical Garden’s 27th Year of Holiday Lights. This year will bring more than 1 million lights and themed displays. The gardens are just under 0.7 miles from start to finish and offer light concessions during the light display, including hot chocolate, coffee, and cookies. Under an hour drive from Madison, the Holiday Light Show at Rotary Botanical Gardens is the perfect event for a date night or a winter family outing.
Christmas Carnival of Lights (Caledonia)
Location: Jellystone Park Camp-Resort – 8425 WI-38, Caledonia, WI 53108
Dates: November 18, 2023 – January 1, 2024 (excludes 11/23, 11/24, and 12/25)
Time: Sunday-Thursday: 5-9pm, Friday-Saturday: 5-11pm
Price: $30/vehicle up to 8 people (more for larger vehicles)
Highlights: A drive-through event that winds through the camp grounds of Jellystone Park. The campgrounds and trees are decorated with over 2 million dazzling holiday lights. After viewing the lights, consider stopping inside Santa’s Workshop for a photo with Santa and some goodies (Check website to confirm when Santa is available).
Location: 96th Street to 92nd Street, Montana Avenue to Oklahoma Avenue
Dates: 2023 Dates Not Available Yet
Time: 2023 Times Not Released. 2022 Times – Monday – Thursday: 6-9pm, Friday: 6-10pm, Saturday: 5-10pm, Sunday: 5-9pm
Price: Donations to MACC Fund – Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer, Inc. Accepted
Highlights: Candy Cane Lane is a neighborhood fundraiser that raises money for the MACC Fund. Several blocks of homes in West Allis go all-out decorating for the holidays with lights, blow-up decorations, and even music. Some houses will sell hot chocolate and you may even spot Santa collecting donations. Please note that this is a very popular area during the holidays and if driving through, please watch out for pedestrians enjoying the holiday light displays.
Zoo Lights (Madison)
Location: Henry Vilas Zoo – 702 S Randall Ave, Madison, WI 53715
Dates: November 24 – December 30, 2023; BONUS DAYS: December 18-30 (Closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day)
Time: Friday – Sunday: 5:30 – 8:30pm
Prices: General Admission: $10, Children 3 & Under: Free (ticket still required)
Highlights: Visit the zoo after dark when most of the animals are asleep and see holiday and animal displays and Christmas Trees made up of almost one million lights. Your ticket includes unlimited carousel rides. Concessions, including alcoholic beverages for those 21+, are available for purchase. Not just for kids, Zoo Lights is the perfect event for a holiday date night.
Sam’s Christmas Village & Light Tour (Somerset)
Location: 710 Spring St. Somerset, WI 54025 (25 minutes East of the Twin Cities)
Dates: November 24, 2023 – December 31, 2023 (closed Christmas Eve)
Time: Monday & Tuesday 5-8pm (Drive Through Only, except 12/18 & 12/25 – Walk Through Only), Wednesday & Thursday 5-8pm (Walk Through Only), Friday & Saturday 5-9pm (Walk Through Only) Sunday 5-8pm (Walk Through Only)
Prices: Adults: $15/person for drive through and $20/person for walk through, Children ages 3-10: $10, Children ages 2 & under: Free, Military Discount: Half Off Ticket Prices; Parking: $10 per vehicle (cash only)
Highlights: Located less than 30 minutes from the Twin Cities near the St. Croix River Crossing, Sam’s Christmas Village fills the area with holiday cheer and so many lights. This annual event showcases over 12 millions lights which you can view from the comfort of your car or on foot, depending on the night. Enjoy s’mores, visit with the reindeer, shop the Christmas market, and fill up with drinks and food. This is truly an event for the whole family, even your friendly pups! All tickets are sold on-site upon arrival.
Rotary Holiday Lights (La Crosse)
Location: Riverside Park – 410 Veteran Memorial Drive, La Crosse WI, 54601
Dates: November 24 – December 31, 2023
Time: Daily 5-10pm; EXCEPTIONS: Christmas Eve and Christmas Day: 5-9pm, New Years Eve: 5pm-1am
Price: FREE (donations greatly appreciated)
Highlights: A beautiful, free event featuring over 3 million lights, a giant Christmas tree, chats with Santa, and more! The lights can be enjoyed via foot, car, or carriage ride (on select nights and for a fee). There are also fire pits for free s’mores along with some light concessions available for purchase. With over 130,000 visitors annually, this is one holiday event you won’t want to miss.
Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival (Milwaukee)
Location: Downtown Milwaukee
Dates: November 16, 2023- January 1, 2024
Time: Lights Turned on Each Evening
Highlights: During the holiday season, Downtown Milwaukee is filled with holiday light displays featuring over 500,000 lights. Special displays can be enjoyed at Zeidler Union Square, Pere Marquette Park, and Cathedral Square Park. Kids can even drop of their letters to Santa at the mailbox in Cathedral Square Park November 1st through December 10th. Take a tour by foot or by car of beautiful light displays and Christmas Trees decorated by local schools. New for 2023 is an ornament trail that’s certain to be just as dazzling as the rest of the displays.
WPS Garden of Lights (Green Bay)
Location: Green Bay Botanical Garden
Dates: November 24 – November 26, 2023, November 30 – December 3, 2023, and December 7-10, 14-17, 21-23 & 26-30, 2023
Price: Adults: $12-$20, Children Ages 3-12: $5-$15 (Prices depend on date and whether walking or riding wagon)
Highlights: 2023 tickets go on sale to the general public on October 30th Each year, the Green Bay Botanical Gardens light up during the holiday season with nature-themed light displays with over 350,000 lights. Watch the gardens come alive after dark and get into the holiday spirit with the beautiful holiday light displays at WPS Garden of Lights.