Might as well give the Coulee Region their Christmas crown now: La Crosse Rotary Lights is basically the king of holiday light shows. Rotary Lights has been growing their tour for over two decades. Today, 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 more holiday bliss such as live music, hay rides, breakfast with Santa, live reindeer, carriage rides and an Ugly Sweater 5K. 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.
Nestled in the heart of Wisconsin is a destination steeped in holiday tradition. I’m shining the spotlight on central Wisconsin for a moment in the city of Marshfield for their alluring light show and its one million lights. This animated Winter Wonderland is impressive as are the many fun family activities worth taking in like Santa visits, horse drawn carriage rides, holiday music and more!
A wintertime Green Bay is bright and merry and not just because America’s Team is busy winning games and spreading cheer. I love the Garden of Lights at the Green Bay Botanical Gardens partly because it’s a Yuletide favorite but also because of its 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.
Every year, Waukesha’s Country Springs Hotel is transformed into a frosty dreamland called Country Christmas and every year, Country Christmas enchants thousands of visitors. It is, after all, Wisconsin’s largest outdoor lights display, consisting of 250 light displays and over 1 million lights along a mile-long drive. Admission into the Country Christmas Trail also includes entrance in to Christmas Village—home to an amazing model train display—and the Streets of Bethlehem, a collection of nearly life-sized Fontanini nativity characters.
Rotary Botanical Gardens’ Holiday Light Show in southern Wisconsin is S-T-U-N-N-I-N-G. Throw on a pair of 3-D glasses and experience Janesville’s glittering displays in an entirely different way. Plus, don’t leave without snapping some fun family pics at the selfie stops, taking the youngsters by Santa’s house and the elves’ workshop or enjoying tasty perks like pizza, hot cocoa, cider and cookies.
Tune in to 98.1 FM while you and your crew take in the sights and sounds of Making Spirits Bright, a free 1.1 mile drive-through route in Sheboygan's Evergreen Park featuring hundreds of thousands of glowing lights choreographed to music. Volunteers will be on hand to accept pantry item donations for the Sheboygan County Food Bank.
Eau Claire's "Let it Glow!" Tree Lighting will take place Friday, Dec. 5 at Phoenix Park. [Photo by Dan Reiland]
The “Let It Glow!” Phoenix Park Lighting is truly gorgeous and one worthy of making your holiday bucket list. This one entails 28,000 twinkling lights on 18 trees leading up to the Phoenix Park bridge in downtown Eau Claire. Also: Bonus points for the clever pun reference to every kiddo’s favorite Frozen blockbuster 😉
Okay, your turn: What’s the best holiday light show in Wisconsin? Let me know in the comments below!
Mariah Haberman hosts the nation’s longest-running tourism TV show, Discover Wisconsin. She hails from Evansville, where she was brought up in a family of seven in a small farmhouse outside of town. Some of her favorite memories include Lake Michigan fishing trips with her Dad, showing sheep at the Rock County Fair and buzzing around the farm on an ATV with her little brother. Watch Discover Wisconsin Saturdays at 10 a.m. on FSN Wisconsin’s outdoor block. (Twitter: @DiscoverWI)
40 comments on “These 7 Wisconsin Cities Are Home to Dazzling Holiday Light Shows”
Sparta, Wisconsin. For a small town community, it is amazing how they decorate the park. My husband and I drive to Sparta from the Twin Cities every year for the lighting countdown. It is breathtaking! Mark December 4th on your calendar.
Thanks for the info, Cynthia!
Enchantment in the Park in West Bend, WI is beautiful. It is a trip through time. For a donation of food items, or $10 per vehicle, you will receive a CD that you play as you drive through the park. The CD tells of Christmases past. At the end of the trip you can park and take in the beautiful, gigantic tree of lights that is set to music. It is pretty spectacular. I highly recommend adding this to your list of places to go!!
Please come visit Irvine Park in Chippewa Falls! A HUGE light display that fills the park - with lots of pretty vignettes and the Night Before Christmas on huge signs. Drive or walk the park - it's lovely. They also have a Run for the Lights 5K that goes through the park the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Very fun event!
Noted! Thanks Tess 🙂
Yes! We visit Irvine Park every year.
I remember these being nice in Chippewa Falls.
Irvine Park in Chippewa Falls! !!!
A Lure of Lights in Hayward, WI is beautiful! Its started 5 years ago and not only in the town painted in lights, but there are light shows to music!
Great display in Hayward. A must see!
Stoughton Wisconsin.large display to music by the fire station.
Irving Park in Chippewa Falls has 100s of1000s of lights and a walk through night with Santa, cookies and hot chocolate. It is amazing and should be on this list.
Stoughton has on of the best light shows in Southern Wisconsin. Every year more light are added. This is all done by the volunteer fire department.
Don't forget all the stops in the state that the holiday train stops at. Beautiful lights and music and feeding the hungry!
I am handicapped and have to use a scooter or wheelchair. Could you please tell me which locations allow for wheelchairs.
Irvine Park in Chippewa Falls is a must see. It's absolutely beautiful.
You need to the see the Music/light show in Independence WI, you sit in your car turn on the radio and watch it come to life! More then 200,000.00 LED lights, animation, singing trees. More more more!
Great drive thru light display in Caledonia, WI that is hosted at Jellystone Park called the Christmas Carnival of Lights. Campground is beautifully lit with over a million lights and handmade displays which you get to view from the comfort of your car while listening to music that goes along with some of the displays. Santa is also there on select nights and they serve coffee drinks, cider and cocoa. Great place to check out and they also partner with Ronald McDonald house and local schools.
Candy cane lane is in west allow (Milwaukee) and is wonderful. I have gone there time after time as a child and still remember the awe I was in. It is definitely a number on the Christmas to do list!
Celebration of Lights in Oshkosh is great.
Irvine Park in Chippewa Falls is amazing
starting on november 21,you can do a holiday drive through at the shalom wildlife zoo just outside of west bend.be in the warmth of your car,see all the animals and santa has decorated the zoo with all the decorations.he also has large red stockings along the trail full of treasures for all boys and girls. the holiday drive through runs until december 28th.so if you get the chance,stop on by,the animals would love to see you,thank you!!!
Irvine Park in Chippewa Falls should be on this list!! Not only is the lighting magical, but it includes homes and businesses important to the history of the city. I drive 4 hours just to enjoy it!
La Crosse. Wisconsin has the best light show which helps feed the hungry.
The light display in oshkosh park on the lake is magical
Fond du lac's lakeside park home of the dancing lights, 5 to midnight daily admission is free, great show every year visit fdllights.com to see videos from years past
Racine County Zoo in Racine is amazing if they still have it. I haven't lived there in 30+ years, but it was always memorable.
A "Lure" of Lights in Hayward,WI! It's in its 5th year and light shows and holiday events run from the day after thanksgiving through the first weekend in January. A must see! Beautiful display of lights and community.
I was born and raised in La Crossr WI. I have retired in Arkansas. I remember when the city started decorating that park many years ago. It started out small and grew bigger every year for a long time. One of the most beautiful things they added is a live nativity. It had live animals and La Crosse citizens dressed as Mary, Joseph, and the Wise Men too. Them whole park is alive and beautiful trom Thanksgiving until New Years.
I have been to 3 of the places in the top ten all of them were really nice. I was surprised though that Chippewa Falls Irvine park was not listed. Far and away the best display I've seen.
[…] a moving holiday light show. We love holiday shows so much. Whether you prefer to walk or drive through, there are wonderful displays throughout the […]
This is Southeastern Wisconsin's BIGGEST Christmas Light Show drive thru! This year will be the 7th year running. No light show in the area can even compare to what this light show has to offer. Wednesdays, Fridays, & Saturdays Santa is available in the Store/Coffee shop for pictures and visits. This is hosted at Jellystone Park-Caledonia, WI. (20 minutes south of downtown Milwaukee).
The light show at Rotary Botanical Gardens in Janesville, WI is wonderful!! They may not have as many lights as some light shows have but the impact of what they do is equally as stunning. Having lights displayed around the perimeter of the lake creates a beautiful reflection. Everything they do is done with such precision and very well thought out. For us it's a 2.5 hr. drive and well worth it!!
Link to Green Bay is broken
chippewa falls irvine park is awesome better then eau claire
You forgot about Oshkosh Celebration of Lights. It's one of the largest drive through holiday light displays in Wisconsin. It is located at Menominee park in Oshkosh. We have about 800,000 lights and hundreds of decorations. It runs from November 25 to December 31 from 5 - 9!
I love La Crosse's lights, i try to get down to see them every year. Gets me in the holiday spirit.