When the temps drop and the snow falls, Wisconsin dazzles…literally. Make your way to one or more of the following Wisconsin destinations for an unforgettably bright and jolly holiday experience:
- La Crosse
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!
- Green Bay
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
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)