10 Must-See Holiday Light Shows in Wisconsin

Kortnee Hass

November 16, 2021

When the temperatures drop and the snow begins to fall, Wisconsin dazzles…literally. And so do the plethora of holiday light shows that you and the whole family can enjoy around the state! The best part? These are still safe and socially distanced activities that you can get outside and enjoy this winter. Check out these 10 dazzling light shows that you can experience throughout the state:

Holiday Lights Festival (Milwaukee)

Photo Credit: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The Holiday Lights Festival in Milwaukee certainly helps this already-vibrant city shine. Throughout downtown Milwaukee, you’ll discover these highly decorated parks: Cathedral Square, Pere Marquette, and Zeidler Union Square. Bundle up and grab a cup of cocoa to walk a self-guided and socially distanced tour throughout the city. But don’t delay! This magnificent light show comes to a close on New Year’s Day.

Rotary Holiday Lights (La Crosse)

We would be remiss to not have the Rotary Holiday Lights in La Crosse be at the top of our list! This event is the king of holiday light shows. The La Crosse Rotary Lights have been growing their tour for over two decades. It takes 3,000 volunteers and over 3 million lights to illuminate Riverside Park along the Mississippi River. In addition to the tour itself, there’s an abundance of winter activities to enjoy! Arrive on the right night to see Santa in the park, check out Santa’s reindeer and see their brand new hologram display! They even offer free s’mores by the fire, which is located near the giant snowman. The icing on this holiday cake? Oh, that would be the 140-foot Christmas tree!
The best part though? Rotary Lights’ mission is to feed the hungry in the Coulee Region. Huge thanks to the volunteers and visitors alike who have been making spirits bright for over two decades.

Garden of Lights at Green Bay Botanical Gardens (Green Bay)

Photo Credit: gbbg.org

A wintertime in title town is always bright and merry and not just because America’s Team is busy winning games and spreading cheer. The Garden of Lights at the Green Bay Botanical Gardens is a unique experience partly because it’s a Yuletide favorite but also because of their botanical themed displays (think flowers, butterflies, etc.). Pick your preferred method of transportation: either walk the trail or hop in a horse-drawn carriage and take in a holiday spectacle enjoyed by 60,000 annual visitors.

Holiday Fantasy in Lights at Olin Park (Madison)

Photo Credit: Holiday Fantasy in Lights Facebook // Laurie Kutil

With the state capitol and ‘Lady Forward’ illuminating in the background, it’s no wonder why the Holiday Fantasy in Lights show at Olin Park in Madison is a must-see. You and the family can stay warm in your car as you drive through the park and experience these featured Wisconsin themed favorites, like Bucky Badger, the Green Bay Packers, and an ode to the Madison skyline.

Wisconsin Christmas Carnival of Lights (Caledonia)

Photo Credit: wichristmascarnival.com

Get ready to drive through more than 1.5 million Christmas lights at the Wisconsin Christmas Carnival of Lights in Caledonia. Sit back and enjoy the illuminated tunnel of lights and the elf-themed scenes. This wintertime carnival has something that the entire family will love! Pro tip: for the full experience, look for beautiful waterfront properties in nearby Racine.

Celebration of Lights (Oshkosh)

Photo Credit: Oshkosh COL.org // Jim Koepnick

This light show is a celebration indeed! This year, you’re able to enjoy the entire experience from your vehicle. Plan to navigate the mile drive of the more than half a million twinkling lights, including a bridge-tunnel and a snowfall tree display. Plus, you can wave and say hello to Santa, drop off your Christmas list and enjoy the redesigned digital show at the end!

Making Spirits Bright (Sheboygan)

Photo Credit: Rotary Making Spirits Bright Facebook

Get ready to drive a mile through Sheboygan’s Evergreen Park while you and the crew take in the sights and sounds of Making Spirits Bright, a free 1.1 mile drive-through light show! This light show is really that – a show choreographed the music on 98.1 FM.

Rotary Botanical Gardens Holiday Light Show (Janesville)

Rotary Botanical Gardens’ Holiday Light Show in southern Wisconsin is simply outstanding. Throw on a pair of 3-D glasses and experience Janesville’s glittering displays in an entirely different way. With the illuminated arches and tunnels, forests of pine trees, and glowing snow-covered paths, the event is pure magic. Plus, other local favorite events include holiday tours of the Lincoln-Tallman House and the annual Christmas production at the Janesville Performing Arts Center.

Rotary Winter Wonderland (Marshfield)

Photo Credit: Marshfield Rotary Winter Wonderland Facebook

Nestled in the heart of Wisconsin is a destination steeped in holiday tradition. If you’re in central Wisconsin, this event is an absolute must with this alluring light show and their one million lights. This animated Winter Wonderland is impressive as are the many fun family activities worth taking in like Santa visits, holiday music and more!

Christmas Village in Irvine Park (Chippewa Falls)

Photo Credit: DW

And last but certainly not least, we need to shine some light on the north-west portion of the state. Nestled in Chippewa Falls, you can experience this devine Christmas Village in Irvine Park. This light show allows you to take in the views of life-sized Victorian era Christmas scenes and local historical replicas with over 60,000 lights to count!

While we just mentioned 10 of our favorite light shows, there are still countless more to be seen and experienced around Wisconsin! For a longer list, tune in to Eric’s segment of ‘Wisconsin in 72’ on The Cabin Podcast’s episode on Skiing and Snowboarding in Wisconsin.

Which holiday light shows are on your list this year? Let us know in the comments!

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