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Amazing Holiday Light Displays In Southern Wisconsin

These incredible holiday light displays in Souther Wisconsin and beyond are designed to impress! We highly recommend taking a few extra minutes to drive out of your way to stop by and admire one of these fabulous Christmas light displays for a truly memorable holiday experience. Bring a hot cup of cocoa, snap a few pictures, and meet your neighbors while your at it! 

1. Holiday Fantasy in Lights 

When: November 19th - January 2nd

Time: Open 24 hours

Where: Olin Turville Dr. Madison WI 

A great experience to share with family and friends is the light display in downtown Madison WI. This yearly light display features a wide variety of stunning Christmas lights overlooking one of Madison's most iconic lakes. 

2. Henry Vilas Zoo Holiday Light Display

When: November 25th - January 1st

Time: 5:30PM - 9:00PM on Thursdays and Sundays, and 5:30PM - 10:00PM on Fri. and Sat.

Where: 702 S Randall Ave, Madison, WI 53715

The Zoo Lights were officially be revealed on Friday, November 25th, the day after Thanksgiving.  The displays will be lit up Thursdays through Sundays until January 1st, 2017. The zoo will be open extended hours from 5:30PM - 9:00PM on Thursdays and Sundays, and 5:30PM - 10:00PM on Fri. and Sat. 

Admission is $7 with children under 3 being admitted for free. Find more about the Zoo Lights here.                     

3. Rotary Botanical Gardens Holiday Light Show

When: December 4th - December 30th, 2016 

Time:  2016 Dates and Times

  • Friday, December 9, 4 to 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, December 10, 4 to 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 11, 4 to 8 p.m.
  • Thursday, December 15, 4 to 8 p.m.
  • Friday, December 16, 4 to 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, December 17, 4 to 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 18, 4 to 8 p.m.
  • Monday, December 19, 4 to 8 p.m.
  • Tuesday, December 20, 4 to 8 p.m.
  • Wednesday, December 21, 4 to 8 p.m.
  • Thursday, December 22, 4 to 8 p.m.
  • Friday, December 23, 4 to 8 p.m.
  • Monday, December 26, 4 to 8 p.m.
  • Tuesday, December 27, 4 to 8 p.m.
  • Wednesday, December 28, 4 to 8 p.m.
  • Thursday, December 29, 4 to 8 p.m.
  • Friday, December 30, 4 to 8 p.m.

Where: 1455 Palmer Drive Janesville WI 53545

For 2016, the show will be bigger, better and more beautiful than ever, as the wintery garden paths are brought to life with over a quarter-million lights, 100 beautifully decorated trees, over 2,500 luminaries, 500 dangling icicle lights hung from the tallest trees in the Garden and more.

In addition to being a beloved community and regional event, the HLS serves as a major fundraiser for RBG and creates significant economic impact to the Janesville area.

4. Wisconsin Christmas Carnival of Lights 

When:  The Christmas Carnival of Lights is open Saturday, November 26 through Thursday, December 31.  The only exception is Christmas Day, when the Carnival is closed so that the Isaacson family can enjoy the holiday together.

Where:  8425 Hwy 38 Caledonia, WI 53108

Time:  Sunday-Thursday: 5-9 p.m.
              Friday and Saturday: 5-10 p.m.

Cost:  Cars (up to 8 people) $20
             Large passenger vans, camper, limo, mini bus $30 
             Large Bus, Greyhound or Large Motorhome $35 **CASH ONLY at the gate but there is an ATM available in the store.**

Please note: Santa's Workshop is open every day. Santa is at the workshop and available for photos every Wednesday 6:00-8:30pm, Friday and Saturday 5:30-9:30PM on November 26th and between December 2nd and 24th. Visit Santa's workshop to learn more.

Come to Caledonia this holiday season.  Just 20 minutes south of Milwaukee,  the Wisconsin Christmas Carnival of Lights offers a holiday lights experience that stretches for more than a mile and features more than one million sparkling holiday lights sure to delight kids and adults of all ages.

Relax in the comfort of your car as you wind your way through the campground. With lights on all sides and high above in the trees and one-of-a-kind hand-crafted displays featuring elves, reindeer, forest friends, beloved children's characters, Santa himself and more, you'll feel like you've stepped into one of your favorite Christmas movies.  Stay awhile and enjoy a hot beverage, get your picture taken with Santa or write him a letter to be sent to the North Pole, and browse our gift shop for fun and unique holiday gifts.

Once again, Wisconsin Christmas Carnival of Lights will partner with the Ronald McDonald House Charities for the holiday season


When: December 2nd, 2016 - December 31st, 2016

TimeMonday-Thursday 5:00PM - 9:00PM; Friday, Saturday & Holidays 5:00PM -10:00PM.

Where: Country Springs Hotel - 2810 Golf Rd. Waukesha, WI 53188

Country Christmas features over a million holiday lights festively displayed on 40 wooded acres of Waukesha's countryside. Experience an enchanting animated figures and holiday scenes all from the comfort of your car. After the drive-through experience, visit Christmas Village where you can enjoy a cup of hot chocolate while looking at animated scenes and a cuddly cast of characters and an amazing working model train display. Stroll the Streets of Bethlehem, where you will be amazed by the life size Fontanini nativity display.

Want to learn about other holiday events in Dane County, WI? Here is a list of some other fun things to do in Dane County this holiday season. 

Festive Things To Do in December...

Holiday Music

Christmas Music on the Radio 24/7
> 102.5 FM
> 107.3 FM

Olbrich Holiday Concert Series  - $1 donation
Sundays in December @ 2:00 p.m.
"Warm up the winter day with festive holiday music  during Olbrich's Holiday Concert Series."

Very Merry Music Series @ Hilldale Mall – FREE
Saturdays & Thursdays, December 8th - 20th [Sat @ 11am, Thur @ 5pm]
"Hilldale will lift spirits this holiday season with six live music performances in our Very Merry Music Series. All 
performances take place in Hilldale's Centre Court Atrium right next to Gingerbread Lane and around the 
corner from Santa's Headquarters! Seating is provided."

Wisconsin State Capitol - FREE
Various programs in December, see more details near end of list

Activities for Kids

Jolly Jump Events @ Pump It Up - $
Saturdays & Sundays, December 8/9; 15/16; 22/23
Take their regular Pop-In-Playtime, but add Santa Claus, refreshments & activities.
See schedule for various event times and admission cost.

Polar Express Story Time @ Barnes & Noble
December 7th @ 7:00 p.m. - West & East Towne stores
"Children are invited to come in their pj's and listen to the Polar Express and other holiday stories.
Treats and activities will be provided."

Gingerbread Cookie Fun @ Madison Public Libraries - FREE
[All ages, please register for one session only] "Catch stories, games and more at this fast-paced family 
program. Participants can take home their own decorated (sugar) cookie." Please call branch to register.

December 1st @ 2:00 p.m. – Meadowridge
December 6th @ 6:30 p.m. – Sequoya
December 8th @ 1:00 p.m. – Alicia Ashman
December 8th @ 1:30 p.m. – Hawthorne
December 13th @ 4:00 p.m. – Lakeview
December 15th @ 2:00 p.m. – Pinney
December 17th @ 4:00 p.m. – Monroe Street

Krafty Kids: Winter Holidays @ Middleton Library - FREE
[Ages 5 & up, no registration required]

December 15th @ 2:30 p.m.

Drop-In Holiday Craft Workshop @ Sun Prairie Library - FREE
[A.M. sessions for ages 3-5, PM session ages 6-11; Please attend one session only]

December 4th @ 10:00 a.m.
December 5th @ 10:00 a.m. & 3:30 p.m.
December 6th @ 2:30 p.m. & 6:00 p.m.

Holiday Crafts for Kids @ DeForest Library - FREE
December 9th @ 1:00 p.m. – DeForest Public Library

Kids New Year’s Celebration @ Middleton Library - FREE
December 28th @ 10:00 a.m.

Performing Arts

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (VACT) - $
November 30th @ 7:00 p.m. & December 1st @ 2:00 p.m. – Verona High School

A Christmas Carol Ballet (SPA) - $
December 1st @ 1:30 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. – Stoughton High School

Sneak Peek of Nutcracker Fantasy (Dance Wisconsin) - $1 to $2
December 2nd – Waisman Center Children’s Theater

Nutcracker Fantasy (Dance Wisconsin) - $
December 7th – 9th – Mitby Theater

Home for the Holidays: A Benefit to Prevent Homelessness - $$
December 8th & 9th - Middleton Performing Arts Center
Enjoy a reception of hors d'oeuvres, music & holiday store/auction, followed with
a performance by Heartline Theatricals, It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play by Joe Landry

A Christmas Carol (Children’s Theater of Madison) - $$
December 14th – 23rd – Overture Center for the Arts

Nutcracker (Verona Youth Ballet) - $$
December 15th @ 4:00 p.m. - Verona High School

The Nutcracker (Madison Ballet) - $$ to $$$
December 15th – 24th – Overture Center for the Arts

Other Special Traditions:

MCM'S Tea & Trains @ The Madison Club - $$$
December 1st - Tickets required (usually sell out).
This annual event for the whole family, benefits Madison Children's Museum

Olbrich’s Holiday Express - $
Daily, 10am - 4pm, December 1st - 31st*
The gardens are open daily to view a festive display of large-scale model trains winding through whimsical 
birdhouses and hundreds of colorful poinsettias! [*Closes @ 2pm on Dec 24th, Closed Christmas Day]

Holiday Fantasy in Lights @ Olin Park – FREE
Madison’s favorite holiday light display, features a festive path of illuminated holiday structures – makes for a 
memorable car ride with the kids after dusk. Don’t forget your free candy cane on the way out (donations 

Visit Hann's Christmas Farm
Come by to create memories of an old fashioned Christmas. Bring the whole family to cut down a tree, pick a 
pre-cut tree or holiday wreath, and enjoy much more while you’re there: Visit with Santa & Mrs Claus 
weekends in December, find unique ornaments & special décor in the Christmas Shop, hang around to enjoy 
hot apple cider & popcorn, and let children play on the haystacks and play area.

Gingerbread Casas for CASA: Displayed at Hilldale
Festivities kick-off December 1st. Decorated houses will be on display through December 23rd.
Come to Hilldale on Saturday, December 1st to witness LIVE decorating contests as professionals (architects, 
bakers, artists & gingerbread aficionados) decorate gingerbread houses sponsored by various organizations & 
individuals to benefit CASA. Also, Saturday, Dec 1st & Sunday, Dec 2nd, anyone can purchase & decorate a 
cookie at the gingerbread cookie factory from 11am - 3pm. CASA is a non-profit providing a voice for abused & 
neglected children in Dane County [Court-Appointed-Special-Advocates]

Concerts & Holiday Displays at State Capitol
Find a complete schedule of happenings at the State Capitol this month! Various non-profit organizations, 
ranging from schools, religious groups, choirs and service organizations are scheduled to sing, perform, or set-
up seasonal displays in & outside of the Capitol. Of course, if you are downtown, be sure to view the enormous 
holiday tree inside the Rotunda following a lighting ceremony on November 30th.

US Bank Eve @ Various Locations - $
December 31st
US Bank Eve is a family-friendly, alcohol-free night of activities and kid-friendly performances held at various 
locations in Dane County, typically including downtown, Middleton, Sun Prairie, and Monona.

Community Holiday Parties & Tree Lightings
Many communities hold holiday parties at a community center, or coordinate special activities in partnership 
with downtown shopping areas such as tree lightings, hayrides and refreshments. Visit the website of your 
local visitor’s center or chamber of commerce.

Holiday Church Programs & Services
Find many holiday events on the Events Calendar at [local radio station 102.5 FM]

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