For the 50+ Traveler

Wisconsin dazzles all year long, but when Christmas rolls around, the glistening landscape takes on an especially brilliant glow. Here are some fun options for walking through a sparkling winter wonderland, driving through a twinkling spectacular, or even immersing yourself in an entire Christmas village. There’s no better way to have fun filling up on holiday spirit.

Please note that, while we’ve done our best to provide the most accurate and updated information, you’ll need to check the event websites before you go, since changes may occur.

The Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival in Wisconsin.

1. Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival, Milwaukee

More than half a million holiday lights will dazzle at the Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival from November 19, 2020, to January 1, 2021. There will also be dozens of safe and “snowcially distanced” activities, too. Three downtown parks and thoroughfares will become winter wonderland scenes and illuminated spectaculars. Broadcast performances and an all-new finale promise to make holiday spirits soar. Jingle Joy gift boxes filled with goodies from local businesses will be available for safe drive-through purchase.

2. Country Christmas, Pewaukee

Country Christmas, from November 27, 2020, to January 2, 2021, offers the largest outdoor drive-through Christmas light display in Wisconsin. The different areas include the Country Christmas Trail, with more than a million lights on a mile-long trail including animated figures and holiday scenes in a wooded countryside setting. If you want to get out of the car, a Streets of Bethlehem display and Christmas Village wait to be explored. Admission fees vary by vehicle type.

Holiday Fantasy In Lights in Madison, Wisconsin.

3. Holiday Fantasy In Lights, Madison

The Madison tradition of Holiday Fantasy In Lights will transform Olin Park into a drive-through spectacle with more than 50 wonderful light displays from November 15, 2020, to January 1, 2021. Featuring everything from golfing Santas to gleaming dragons, colorful lights and animated sculptures playfully fill the scene. The lighted capitol building beyond Lake Monona is a fantastic backdrop for the holiday lights. The event is free, but when you exit, you can make a donation to local nonprofits. No matter what, you’ll receive free candy canes as a thank-you for your visit.

4. Rotary Lights, La Crosse

Drive, walk, or ride a carriage through more than three million lights at the Rotary Lights display from November 27, 2020, to December 31, 2020, in La Crosse. See Santa flip the switch to set the show in motion on opening night, and stick around for fantastic fireworks. View a live Nativity scene, go ice skating (bring your skates!), take a carriage ride around the park, or enjoy free individually packaged s’mores at the fire pit. If that weren’t enough, you'll also find Santa’s reindeer around the park, helicopter rides, a sparkling new sleigh for photos, and a hologram display for hours of entertainment. The light display is free, but some additional activities require a fee. Cash donations are welcome.

5. Lights In Lincoln Park, Manitowoc

Every year, Manitowoc turns Lincoln Park Zoo into a wild drive-through light show. This year, Lights in Lincoln Park will offer 70 animal-themed light displays, a 60-foot light tunnel, and thousands of colorful lights from November 27, 2020, to December 29, 2020. Singing birds, howling wolves, and trumpeting elephants will enhance your experience. Admission costs $5 per car with the proceeds benefiting the zoo. Go for a socially distanced stroll through the twinkling lights on a night fun walk on December 30, 2020. Opening hours vary, so check the schedule before your visit.

Making Spirits Bright, a holiday light display in Sheboygan.

6. Making Spirits Bright, Sheboygan

Sheboygan may be famous for its bratwurst the rest of the year, but during the holidays, the city hosts Making Spirits Bright, an incredible drive-through light show with synchronized music. Tune your radio to 89.1 FM for a sensory explosion of nearly 500,000 lights and more than a mile of holiday dazzle from November 27, 2020, to December 31, 2020 (except for Christmas Eve). Visit their website or Facebook page to hear Santa read Christmas stories during the event. The event is free, but pantry items for the Sheboygan County Food Bank are appreciated.

7. WPS Garden Of Lights, Green Bay

One of the greenest Christmas light displays in Wisconsin is the WPS Garden of Lights at the Green Bay Botanical Garden. Running on certain days from November 27, 2020, to January 2, 2021, this spectacular and safety-focused event requires advanced ticket purchase and specified entry times. The Christmas magic includes an illuminated woodland garden and a spectacular 60-foot oak tree that rotates through the seasons, along with twinkling lights throughout the garden. For a special treat, take a horse-drawn carriage ride to enjoy the holiday glow to the sound of hoofbeats.

The Holiday Light Show in Janesville, Wisconsin.

8. Holiday Light Show At Rotary Botanical Gardens, Janesville

The holiday spirit comes to life in Janesville at the Holiday Light Show at Rotary Botanical Gardens beginning on November 27, 2020. An annual event that is eagerly anticipated, this dazzling display features some 750,000 holiday lights wrapped around tree trunks and Mother Nature’s beautiful botanical creations. You can skip the line by purchasing your ticket online. Check for pricing and details on Facebook.

9. Winter Wonders, Hales Corners

Winter Wonders at the Boerner Botanical Gardens in Hales Corners offers an unparalleled drive-through experience. That’s because this year’s show has been reimagined by theatrical lighting designer “Laser Bob” Mullins and his creative team. The display includes dramatic concert and theatrical lighting techniques, a drive-in mini theater show, holiday gift bags, and more than one million lights in dazzling displays. It runs from November 20, 2020, to January 3, 2021, with a special preview weekend from November 13 to 15. There are various ticket options, including online purchase and a new skip-the-line option for early entry.

The Henry Vilas Zoo Lights in Madison, Wisconsin.

10. Zoo Lights, Madison

Madison’s Henry Vilas Zoo knows how to bring the party animals out for the holidays. The fabulous Zoo Lights display will run Fridays through Sundays from November 27, 2020, to December 27, 2020, and promises a fantastic display of lights for all. Thousands of lights provide a gorgeous stroll for visitors on the glittering grounds. This year, Zoo Lights will be adding timed entry to ensure safety and comfort. Check their Facebook page for ticket prices and the latest updates.

11. Sam’s Christmas Village And Light Tour, Somerset

To surround yourself in the ultimate Christmas experience, check out Sam’s Christmas Village and Light Tour in Somerset from November 27, 2020, to January 2, 2021 (except for Christmas Eve). Boasting more than six million Christmas lights, this is one bright holiday village. A European-style Christmas market, 50-foot animated light tree, and 500-foot light tunnel add to the fun. To take things to the next level, you can rent a heated “s’more cabin” that comes with a s’mores kit for up to eight people, a campfire starter kit and firewood, and a special visit from Santa. Some days are set up for walking, and others for driving.

12. Wisconsin Christmas Carnival Of Lights, Caledonia

Christmas brings out the kid in all of us, especially at the Wisconsin Christmas Carnival of Lights at Jellystone Park Camp-Resort. More than two million lights blaze over more than 1.5 miles, creating a spellbinding drive-through holiday light display like no other. A 200-foot drive-through tunnel with synchronized music is new this year, as is the Winter Walk of Lights walk-through light show. If you want to ride in something other than your car, you can book a seat in Santa’s sleigh or in the new Golf Cart Holiday Train or Golf Cart Limo. Safety precautions are in effect, so check on availability, pricing, advanced ticket options, and other details before you go.

Candy Cane Lane, a holiday light display in West Allis.

13. Candy Cane Lane, West Allis

For something a little different, head to Candy Cane Lane in West Allis, a neighborhood of more than 300 homes that decorates with lights and wraps their trees like candy canes for the holidays. The tradition started in 1984 when a small group decided to honor a child in their neighborhood diagnosed with cancer by decorating their homes and encouraging visitors to make donations to the MACC Fund for children battling cancer and blood disorders. Its popularity grew, and Candy Cane Lane has since raised more than $2 million for the MACC Fund. This year, the displays will run from November 27, 2020, to December 27, 2020. Bundle up, stroll or drive through the neighborhood, and contribute to their wonderful cause if you can.

14. Grand Lighted Holiday Parade In Reverse, Beloit

The Grand Lighted Holiday Parade has been bringing joy to Beloit locals and visitors for 27 years. The parade, organized by the Downtown Beloit Association, has grown each and every year. In addition to the parade, the event includes Santa’s grand entrance on a Beloit Fire Department fire engine and a tree lighting in the heart of downtown. Caroling, hot cocoa, candy for the kids, and photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus all add to the holiday fun.

The parade on November 27, 2020, will be a little different this year. The parade route will be reversed -- the floats will be stationary, while the spectators will drive around to see the lights and displays.

15. Oshkosh Celebration Of Lights, Oshkosh

During the Christmas season, Oshkosh shines with more than a mile of holiday lights, sights, and sounds at the Oshkosh Celebration of Lights. The brilliant lights can be found on more than a hundred trees, sculptured scenes, and animated displays, and there are beautiful reflections off Lake Winnebago. Visitors can synchronize their visit with holiday music on the radio, have a no-contact visit with Santa, take a carriage ride, and much more from November 27, 2020, to January 2, 2021. Visit the website for the latest information on admission fees, free community nights, discounts for non-perishable food donations, and more.

Amazing Christmas light displays in Wisconsin are plentiful. Many of them also contribute to wonderful causes. Fill yourself and your loved ones with the holiday spirit by sharing the gifts of light and love this holiday season.