Nothing says holidays more than the cheer of carefully strung or hastily thrown lights and glitter. And let’s be honest, both have their charm. But when you have finished admiring (or envying) the neighborhood array of lights, where can you head for that awe-inspiring moment of “Wow! The holidays really are here!”
Sorting through social media, word of mouth and local papers looking for the best holiday lights displays can be daunting so let us do the legwork for you.
Holiday Lights in Milwaukee
Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival – Dashing Through the GLOW!
- Where: Downtown Milwaukee
Cathedral Square: Community Spirit Park sponsored by Madison Medical Affiliates
Pere Marquette Park: HiBEARnation Station
Zeidler Union Square: Home Is Where the Hearth Is powered by WE Energies
- When: Thursday, November 18th thru January 1st
- Notes: This year, the Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival will ring in the season by working with WISN 12 and The Pabst Theater Group to produce an all-new variety show. The show will air on Thursday, Nov. 18 at 6:30 p.m. on WISN 12. Packed with local talent and a spectacular finale, viewers won’t want to miss this sampling of downtown’s holiday shows.
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE MILWAUKEE HOLIDAY LIGHTS FESTIVAL BROCHURE.
Jingle Bus Self-Guided Tours Available as Podcast
Families can learn about Downtown’s lights and sights via a five-episode podcast on the iHeartRadio app by typing “MKE Jingle Bus Tour”. Listeners can follow along the free podcast while in the car or on foot. English and Spanish versions will be available.
Jingle Joy Boxes from Milwaukee Food & City Tours
While exploring Downtown’s lights and sights, guests can enjoy treats curated by Milwaukee Food & City Tours on select nights in December. Jingle Joy Bags are $15 and can be pre-ordered at www.milwaukeefoodtours.com or purchased day of, while supplies last. The Jingle Joy drive-thru will operate from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays, Dec. 3 – 18, at Zeidler Union Square. Cash and credit will be accepted.
**Santa’s Mailbox at Cathedral Square Returns!
Cathedral Square Park will continue to host a direct connection to the North Pole. Santa’s Mailbox presented by Educators Credit Union, Serving Older Adults and National Association of Letter Carriers Pioneer Branch 2, returns Nov. 18 – Dec. 12. As part of the magic of the season, children who drop their letters into Santa’s Mailbox will receive a personalized reply in the mail, provided they include a return address. Best of all, no postage is required.
More Holiday Lights to Enjoy around the Milwaukee Area
- Where: Boerner Botanical Gardens in Whitnall Park
- When: November 19, 2021 – January 2, 2022
- Location: 6751 S. 92nd Street, Franklin
- Notes: Gather family and friends for a spectacular drive-through holiday lights display brought to you by the producers of China Lights! Enjoy a variety of light displays throughout Whitnall Park from the comfort of your car as you drive alongside magnificent forest scenes and whimsical holiday fun. Tickets begin at $25 for a carload and can be found on their website.
*NEW! Noel Light Park and Christmas Market
- Where: Wisconsin State Fair Park
- When:November 27 – January 2
- Location: 640 S 84th St, West Allis
- Notes: The Noel Indoor Light Park & Christmas Market will light up Wisconsin State Fair Park this holiday season with a family-friendly event. 90,000 square feet of the Expo Center will be transformed into a magical winter wonderland, complete with over one million sparkling lights, festive food and drink, daily live entertainment and locally-made gifts and stocking stuffers. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be there, too!
- Tickets: Ticket Prices: $14.99 – $22.99 depending on age/day of the week. Kids 3 and under are FREE. (Box Office Ticket Prices will be higher.) GET TICKETS HERE.
*NEW! Magic of Lights at American Family Field
- Where: American Family Field, 1 Brewers Way, Milwaukee
- When: November 24th – January 2nd, 5 – 10 pm
- Tickets: Starts at $25/vehicle
- Notes: Magic of Lights is a dazzling, drive-through holiday lights experience featuring favorite holiday scenes and characters of the season using the latest LED technology and digital animations. Experience Magic of Lights from the comfort and safety of your own car as you wind through the sparkling path of Milwaukee’s favorite holiday tradition. One carload, one price. Magic of Lights is a great family entertainment value! Visit their website for more info.
*NEW! Wild Lights at The Milwaukee County Zoo
- Where: Milwaukee County Zoo, 10001 W Bluemound Rd, Milwaukee, WI 53226
- When: Dec. 1-5, 8-12, 15-23 and 26-31, from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.; admission gates close at 8:45 p.m
- Notes: This December, the Milwaukee County Zoo will transform into an illuminated world with millions of twinkling and sparkling lights placed throughout the forests and pathways, letting visitors enjoy an enchanted evening under the stars.On Thursday, Dec. 9 visitors 21+ enjoy a unique experience with entertainment, special spirits and food offerings to purchase.Bright colors and shining lights will greet guests walking along a 1-mile path filled with animal-themed light displays and decorations. It’s sure to connect participants to animals and the living earth in an inspiring new way!
- Admission: Adult $20; Child (3-12) $18; 2 and under FREE (Parking included; purchase tickets online for a $2 per ticket discount; Zoological Society members receive an additional $2 discount with card; group rates available.)
Poinsettia Promenade Holiday Floral Show
- Where: The Mitchell Park Domes
- When: November 20 – January 3
- Location: 524 S. Layton Blvd.
- Notes: Enjoy the traditional holiday floral show with staples such as pointsettias, amaryllis, single stem white mums (resembling snow balls), snow white pop mums and cycalmen. You will also see some non traditional color among the classics such as bright pink poinsettias and lime green amaryllis.
- Tickets are $8/person. Children under 5 are free. A beautiful holiday stroll inspired by the most notable holiday plants. Visit their website for more information on hours during the holidays.
Miller Valley Holiday Lites
- Where: Miller Valley
- When: Dates are TBD
- Location: Miller Valley, 3897 W State St, Milwaukee, WI
- Notes: Free. Kid-friendly lights show!
Candy Cane Lane in West Allis
- Where: West Allis between 92nd-96th St. and between Montana Avenue and Oklahoma Avenue.
- When: Nov. 26 – Dec 26, 2021
- Notes: Bundle the kids in their jammies and let them sip cocoa while driving through an amazing spectacle of light. Donations are accepted and benefit the MACC Fund. Visit their website for more info.
Winter Wonderland Display of Lights – Milwaukee Garden District
- Where: 6th & Howard in Milwaukee, WI
- When: Dec. 7, 2021 – Jan. 6, 2022
- Notes: FREE! A walk through or drive-by light display available starting at dusk each night. A tree lighting will take place on December 7 at 6 p.m. Visit their website for more info.
Holiday Lights in Neighboring Communities
Candy Corners Lane
- Where: The Corners of Brookfield
- Location: 20111 W. Bluemound Road, Brookfield
- Notes: Free. Visit The Corners of Brookfield to experience the first year of Candy Corners Lane! The Corners has been known for busting out an impressive level of holiday cheer and this year is no exception! Enjoy wandering through the Market Square with a candy cane archway, over 4,000 feet of lights, and even a North Pole mailbox where kids can mail their letters to Santa himself.
Jellystone Park’s Christmas Carnival of Lights
- Where: Caledonia
- When: Grand Opening: November 20th – 21st, Regular Dates: November 27th – January 1st
- Location: Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park; 8425 WI-38, Caledonia
- Notes: A Milwaukee holiday light experience at Jellystone Park Camp-Resort in Caledonia, just 20 minutes south of Milwaukee, that stretches for more than a mile and features more than two million sparkling holiday lights sure to delight kids and adults of all ages. Santa’s giant sleigh, which seats 43 guests in tiered and comfortable seating, will also travel through the light show and allow families to experience the show in a whole new way. Reservations to ride on the sleigh may be made at www.wichristmascarnival.com/sleighrides. Visit their website for more information. Additionally, Wisconsin’s Christmas Carnival of Lights will be donating $1 per car, up to 4,000 cars, to the Ronald McDonald House to go towards their cause.
- Tickets: Drive thru tickets start at $30/vehicle
Lights on Glen Cove
- Where: Glen Cove Ct, Muskego
- When: The lights will normally be on from 5 pm to 9 pm Sunday thru Thursday. On Friday and Saturday from 5 pm to 10:00. Please check the Lights on Glen Cove Facebook Page for more specific information, as the weather does affect the display conditions. These Milwaukee holiday lights are run in a residential neighborhood in Muskego with over 30,000 LED lights synchronized to music broadcasted on 87.9 FM
- Notes: Food and monetary donations accepted for the Muskego Food Pantry. The bins are located at the front of the property. Mr. Stark, who puts on the show, asked us to remind everyone that since the show is in a residential neighborhood, please be respectful of the neighbors, be patient if there is a line (bring hot chocolate!!), and bring non-perishable food items for the food pantry.
What to expect from the Lights on Glen Cove? Something like this!
Country Christmas at Ingleside Hotel
- Where: Pewaukee, 2810 Golf Rd
- When: Nov. 26 – Dec. 1, 2021; Dec. 3, 2021 – Jan. 1, 2022 (5 to 9 pm)
- Location: Ingleside Hotel, 2810 Golf Rd Pewaukee, WI
- Tickets: $20 per carload Sunday-Thursday; $25 per carload Friday-Saturday and holidays
- Notes: Each year, The Ingleside Hotel is transformed into a winter wonderland called Country Christmas. Admission to Wisconsin’s largest drive through Christmas lights display includes a trip through the Country Christmas Trail and entrance to two buildings located at the end of the trail, Christmas Village and The Streets of Bethlehem. The Country Christmas Trail features over a million holiday lights festively displayed on a mile-long trail. As you drive through the wooded countryside, you’ll experience enchanting animated figures and holiday scenes at every turn. Some guest favorites include:
- “Bearville” is an area of the trail where you will find giant teddy bears in a church scene, general store, butcher shop, and sausage factory.
- Prairieville and Old Time Waukesha miniature cities
- A captivating 200-foot tunnel of 30,000 computerized, pulsating lights
Making Spirits Bright
- Where: Sheboygan
- When: November 26th – December 31st, 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm. (Closed Dec 24)
- Location: Evergreen Park in Sheboygan, off Hwy 42
- Notes: Admission to the park remains free of charge. However, donations to the Sheboygan County Food Bank are highly encouraged, which will be distributed to local food pantries. Cash donations support the future growth of this event and, as possible, are donated to non-profits. Don’t miss the nearby Quarryview Center (open Friday-Sunday) for wreath raffles, entertainment, concessions, and a visit with Santa. Take a trolley ride, starting at Quarryview, through the park Fridays and Saturdays. Visit their website for more information.
Enchantment in the Park
- Where: Regner Park, West Bend
- When: November 26th through December 24th: Walk, drive, carriage ride, and visit Santa, 5-9 pm
- Location: 800 N. Main Street, West Bend
- Notes: A bag of non-perishable food items (no glass containers, please) or a suggested $10 cash donation per car. Food donations help fill the food pantries of Washington County and Menomonee Falls. Enchantment in the Park is in West Bend and is a neat light display through Regner Park. Take a horse and carriage ride or enjoy marshmallows by the fire pit on Friday and Saturday nights. To ensure a visit with Santa, it’s encouraged to arrive earlier in the evening. Visit their website for more info.
Shalom Wildlife Holiday Drive-Thru
- Where: Shalom Wildlife West Bend
- When: November 20th thru December 31st, Open Daily from 1 pm to 8:30 pm (last car admitted at 7:30 pm), Closed: Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve & Christmas Day
- Location: 1901 Shalom Drive, West Bend
- Notes: $10/person, under 2 yrs: free.
- Where: Herman A. Zeunert Park, N25 W5598 Taft St, Cedarburg
- When: Nov. 26 – Dec. 23, Thursday-Saturday, 5 – 8 pm
- Notes: Treat your family to a fun tradition that’s filled with holiday cheer. Located in downtown Cedarburg. Illuminate Ozaukee helps support and illuminate the nonprofits of Ozaukee County, with the help and collaboration of our supporting businesses to bring together a holiday light spectacular. Special characters will be stopping by to say hello each night – Santa, Mrs. Claus, the Grinch, and Olaf! Bring your letters to Santa to drop in his mailbox! Visit their website for more info.*NOTE: This event is a drive-thru ONLY holiday light display, with the exception of our VIP Night (December 8th)
Bonus Holiday Lights and Experiences:
Santa’s Workshop (Cedarburg)
- Where: Washington Avenue, downtown Cedarburg
- When: Nov. 19-Dec. 18, 2021 (Fridays and Saturdays), Fridays 4-7 p.m.; Saturdays 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
- Notes: Visit a charming 15′ x 15′ gingerbread house graces Cedarburg’s Washington Avenue for the entire Christmas season. Santa and Mrs. Claus often stop by in the days leading up to Christmas. When Santa’s not in to greet guests, you can peek in the windows to see his charming fireplace and the toys he and the elves have been working on! Visit their website for more info.
Wonderland of Lights at Racine Zoo (Racine)
- Where: Racine Zoo, 2131 N. Main St., Racine, WI 53402
- When: Nov. 19, 2021-Jan. 2, 2022 (open every day, including New Year’s Day / holidays), 6-9 pm
- Tickets: $5/person, ages 2 and under are FREE
- Notes: Marvel at the sight of dazzling illuminations from the safety and comfort of your own vehicle! Drive through the enchanting light displays of delightfully decorated trees, charming characters, a 96 ft. tunnel with an incredible show of dynamic designs, and more. Perfect for guests of all ages. Meet Santa on 11/27, 12/12/, and 12/23. Visit their website for more info.
Lake Geneva Santa Cruise (Lake Geneva)
- Where: Cruises depart from the Lake Geneva Cruise Line’s winter harbor in Williams Bay at Gage Marine and Pier 290 at 1 Liechty Drive, Lake Geneva
- When: Tours run on Wednesday to Sunday from the day after Thanksgiving through December 30 (no tours 12/24 and 12/25)
- Tickets: Regular tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors ages 65 and older and $9 for children ages 4 – 17 on regular dates and $28 for adults, $26 for seniors and $18 for children on prime dates. Children 3 and under are free.
- Notes: Aboard the Lake Geneva Cruise Line’s historic boats — enclosed, heated and decked out with twinkling lights — passengers hear the story of Santa’s summer in Lake Geneva and enjoy the light displays on the shoreline. All this is before the boat stops right outside Santa’s hideaway, where he’ll come out, wave at the passengers on the boat and call out each of the child passengers’ names. Select adult only weekend tours feature live music. Visit the website for more info!
Lake Geneva Electric Christmas Parade (Lake Geneva)
- Where: Downtown Lake Geneva
- When: December 4th, starting at 5 pm
- Notes: Pour the hot cocoa, grab the coziest blankets, and get ready for the most holly jolly parade of the holiday season! On December 4th, the holiday spirit hits the streets at the Lake Geneva Electric Christmas Parade. Starting at 5 pm, the parade will once again light up the night as brilliantly illuminated floats wind through the downtown district, stepping off at the intersection of William and Marshall Streets before heading down Broad and Main Streets. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO.
Where: 9721 S Burrell St, Oak Creek, WI 53154
- When: November 25th – January 2nd. Sunday-Thursday 5pm-9pm, Friday-Saturday 5-10pm
Where have you made your best holiday lights memories? Please share them with us by tagging @milwaukeemoms or in the comments below.