5 Festive Things to Do in Janesville, WI During the Holiday Season

Colorful holiday lights lit up over lake - Holiday Light Show - Things to Do in Janesville

Head to Janesville, Wisconsin this December for all of the holiday activities. With so many festive things to do in Janesville, you’re sure to have a wonderful time. Get ready for a holiday season filled with local shopping, amazing decorations, theater shows and lights on top of lights.

This post showcases five of the best things to do in Janesville during the holiday season including an incredible light show, a popular downtown area, and decorated Christmas Trees galore. 

My visit to Janesville was in partnership with the Janesville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. As such, some activities I attended were gifted, but all opinions and reviews are my own.

When you make purchases through the links in my post, I may earn commissions at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. As always, I only provide links to products and services I recommend.Read my full disclosure here.

Festive Things to Do in Janesville:

Walk Through the Holiday Light Show at Rotary Botanical Gardens 

1455 Palmer Dr, Janesville, WI 53545

A holiday favorite year after year is the Holiday Light Show at Janesville’s Rotary Botanical Gardens. The event turns the gardens into an incredible experience, featuring over 1.5 million lights and guiding visitors through a festive artistic wonderland. I absolutely adore the thousands of lights that the volunteers hang from the gardens’ trees. There is something so magical about walking under the canopy they create. 

Young woman posing amongst bright holiday lights
Young woman enjoying hot chocolate with holiday lights in background

Grab a hot chocolate or coffee while you stroll the .67 mile-long pathway through the lights. The trail is accessible via wheelchair, stroller and wagon, although keep in mind that snowy and icy conditions may make it more difficult to maneuver. 

So much work goes into this event each year and it is definitely worth the ticket. One of the volunteers I spoke with said they start putting up the lights in August, and it takes them until March to take them down each year. Add this must-see event, plus these other Holiday Lights in Wisconsin, to your list this season. 

Jolly Jingle Janesville 

Downtown Janesville 

Each December is Janesville’s premier holiday celebration, Jolly Jingle, which features a weekend full of festivities. 2023 marked Jolly Jingle’s 10th year and it was spectacular. Most activities are free or very low-cost, making it a fantastic family-friendly holiday event. 

Large outdoor Christmas Tree surrounded by carolers at night.

Jolly Jingle features a mix of things to do in Janesville with some that are open throughout the season and others open just for the weekend. While the most popular event may be the lighted holiday parade, other favorites include the Holiday Tree Lighting and Fireworks in Courthouse Park, the Holiday Public Skate, and the Holiday Light Show at Rotary Botanic Garden. 

One of the new events for 2023 was the Makers Market in Olde Towne Mall which featured three floors of vendors and live music. I loved the mix of items available like home-made candles, crocheted animals, and even sweaters for your pets.

Holiday Tree Show at Lincoln-Tallman House Museum 

440 N Jackson St, Janesville, WI 53548

A Janesville treasure is the Lincoln-Tallman House, which now acts as a museum and community space. The house was originally the residence of the William Tallman family, but has operated as a historic house museum since 1951. The house has incredible craftmanship and is truly a sight to see.

Each holiday season the Lincoln-Tallman House Museum is turned into a scene out of a movie and filled with more than 125 Christmas trees for the Holiday Tree Show. The trees are creatively decorated by local businesses, non-profits and community members. Holiday decor lovers and Christmas tree fanatics alike will love the Holiday Tree Show.

Things to do in Janesville - Brightly lit Christmas tree surrounded by antique bike and toys
Curved wooden stairwell with garland, and decorated Christmas tree next to handrail

Today, the Rock County Historical Society operates the historic home and offers several different tours throughout the year. Of course during the holiday season, the home is decked out in holiday decor and ready to add holiday cheer. 

While you enjoy the beauty of the trees, you also get to learn about the home from the knowledgeable volunteers that dedicate so much time to the preservation and history of the home. One volunteer, Jeannice, told me all about the history of the servants quarters, including bathing and bathroom practices.

Local Holiday Shopping in Downtown Janesville

Downtown Janesville 

Downtown Janesville is home to several locally-owned shops and boutiques with items ranging from high-end clothing and artwork to vintage home goods and tasty candy. I love shopping small, both because it supports local residents and families (so important!), but also because individually-owned shops have the cutest dang items and usually such great quality.

Janesville is the perfect city to spend the afternoon getting lunch and shopping with your friends. Pro tip: grab a café beverage from The Bodacious Brew before heading out for shopping.

To help get you started with your holiday shopping, here are a few awesome shop recommendations in Downtown Janesville:

  • Adorn – 39 S Main St, Janesville, WI 53545
  • 608 Vintage – 34 S Main St, Janesville, WI 53545
  • Glass Garden – 25 W Milwaukee St, Janesville, WI 53548
  • TLC Quilting – 1800 Humes Rd Suite 120, Janesville, WI 53545
  • Olde Towne Mall – 20 S Main St, Janesville, WI 53545
  • Velvet & Tulle Boutique – 217 W Milwaukee St, Janesville, WI 53548

During my time holiday shopping in Janesville, I found the cutest ‘Merry Christmas’ sign for my door, a mini hot pink Christmas Tree, and a candle perfect for gifting. I love that the shops offer something for everyone and at all price points.

Woman carrying hot pink christmas tree next to beautiful mural of woman.
Woman holding Merry Christmas Door Sign in shop full of item - Things to Do in Janesville

Watch a Holiday Show at the Janesville Performing Arts Center

408 S Main St, Janesville, WI 53545

Celebrate the holidays in full spirits with a show at the Janesville Performing Arts Center (JPAC). For the 2023 season, enjoy either Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (December 8-10) or The Nutcracker (December 15-17). Both shows offer evening productions and matinees at reasonable prices (starting at $12 for Rudolph and $25 for The Nutcracker).

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a production put on by the Janesville Performing Arts Center Kids and runs just over an hour long. This family-friendly show shares a story of acceptance and belonging.

The Nutcracker is a beautiful ballet performance with music accompaniment by the Beloit Janesville Symphony Orchestra. It’s a classic production that you can see year after year.

Janesville Performing Arts Center accommodates all, providing several seats accessible by wheelchair, hearing-assistant devices and parking accommodations. They also offer a surface lot with general parking and additional free street parking is adjacent to the building.

The Center offers shows and events throughout the year with it’s many community partners so it’s always a great option to consider when visiting Janesville.

Head to Janesville

With so many things to do in Janesville this holiday season, you’re bound to have a festive time and leave wanting to go back and explore time and time again. This city has so much to offer and is close to many other great Wisconsin cities like Madison, Door County, and Eau Claire. Have a great holiday season!



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