Calendar of Events › Holiday
December 31, 2020 – January 1, 2021
The Plymouth Arts Center, touting Plymouth as the “Cheese Capital of the World,” is doing its 14th annual Big Cheese Drop and New Year’s Eve party again this year, but virtually because it’s 2020, going into 2021. You can watch it live, though!
Here’s what they say on their Facebook Page:
“New Year’s Eve celebrations will look a little different for many this year in the community of Plymouth, Wisconsin, home of Sartori Cheese. The annual Sartori Big Cheese Drop, nationally lauded as one of the country’s quirkiest New Year’s Eve traditions, will be going virtual in the interest of public safety. This event celebrates the City of Plymouth, well-known as the Cheese Capital of the World. For the past 14 years the event has drawn thousands as the community comes together to welcome in the new year. The crescendo of the event is marked by a countdown and the lowering of a giant wedge of Sartori’s world award-winning BellaVitano® Gold Cheese.
Following CDC and Wisconsin State Guidelines, the 2020 Sartori Cheese Drop was filmed in partnership with the Plymouth Arts Center and the Plymouth Fire Department. Jim Sartori, Chairman of Sartori Cheese, his wife, Jan, and Donna Hahn, Executive Director of the Plymouth Arts Center were onsite to observe the tradition. “It wouldn’t feel like New Year’s Eve in Plymouth without the Sartori Cheese Drop – we’re very appreciative to the Plymouth Arts Center and Plymouth Fire Department for helping to keep the tradition alive this year. We wish everyone a Happy New Year and we look forward to a very bright 2021.” said Sartori.
Donna Hahn said, “we invite everyone to join us for the New Year’s Eve Big Cheese Countdown Watch Party on Facebook. It will be a great way to celebrate, in the cozy comfort of your own home, as we ring in the New Year together virtually! The video will available for viewing a few moments before midnight. For a little extra fun we encourage you to take photos or videos of your family watching the event, post them to Facebook, remember to tag the Plymouth Arts Center and the Sartori Company, and add a hashtag, i.e. #SartoriBigCheeseDropWI, #PlymouthArtsCenterWi, or #PlymouthWisconsin. Those posting will be included in a drawing for a chance to win a Sartori Cheddars Giveaway. To be eligible for the drawing, post before 6pm on January 1st. We’ll notify you if you are one of the six winners. The gifts may be picked up at the Plymouth Arts Center.”
Hahn continued, “the Plymouth Arts Center initiated this popular New Year’s event back in 2007 to pay tribute to Plymouth’s cheese heritage and its thriving industry that exists today. We greatly appreciate the Sartori Company’s generous sponsorship of this event and our organization. We also thank the Plymouth Fire Department and Fire Chief Denis Fellows for their continued gracious assistance. We wish you and your family very Healthy and Happy New Year! Please mark your calendar for the 15th Annual New Year’s Party and Sartori Big Cheese Drop, December 31, 2021 at the Plymouth Arts Center!”
This should make national news (again), since it’s been on the list for the top 10 things to do on New Year’s Eve for many years. All the details are on the Plymouth Arts Center website. While in downtown Plymouth, admire all the cool murals and decor along the historic downtown blocks, filled with great shops, restaurants, bars, and more.
Why is Plymouth the “Cheese Capital”? Well, it’s rooted in the fact that the price of cheese in the United States was designated at the Wisconsin Cheese Exchange in downtown Plymouth, beginning in 1918. The Cheese Exchange pricing and standards were the platform for cheese pricing until 1956. During these decades Plymouth became known as “Cheeseville” because of the cheese storage facilities, the processing of cheese and shipping of product throughout the country. Today, over 15% of the cheese consumed in the U.S. goes through the city.
(Virtual) Address for the Big Cheese Drop in Plymouth for New Year’s Eve:
Plymouth Arts Center
520 E. Mill Street
Plymouth, WI 53073
Back to StateTrunkTour.com
November 27, 2020 – January 2, 2021
The Oshkosh Celebration of Lights lights up the Lake Winnebago shoreline at beautiful Menominee Park every holiday season! This year, it runs from Friday, November 27th through Saturday, January 2nd, 2021 every evening from 5:30pm to 9:00pm.
The lights in the park reflect beautifully off the Lake Winnebago coast as you peruse a 1.2-mile stretch of illuminated holiday wonder. A 100-foot tree, sculptured scenes, twinkling animated light displays and accompanying holiday music makes this part of Oshkosh magical during the holidays.
Along with walking or driving through Menominee Park, you can enjoy a carriage ride through the grounds on select nights! There’s plenty of social distancing and the carriages are sanitized between each ride. You can book a carriage at 920-303-9200; they reserve rides in half-hour increments from 6pm to 8:30pm on the evenings of December 9th, 10th, 14th, 16th, 17th, or 21st. The carriages cost $70 and can hold four adults and two lap children; the prices includes tickets for driving through the park.
General Admission per carload is $10.00 with $1.00 off for a non-perishable in-date food donation. Food pantries across the area – scheduled by United Way – benefit from Celebration of Lights, so you’re helping for the holidays, too! Menominee Park also has a zoo you can enjoy, any time of the year.
Oshkosh Celebration of Lights is open every day, 5:30pm – 9:00pm. I-41, U.S. 45, and Highways 21, 26, 44, 76, and 91 all bring you to Oshkosh!
Oshkosh Celebration of Lights Address:
520 Pratt Trail
Oshkosh, WI 54901
November 27, 2020 – December 31, 2020
Sheboygan hosts the 9th annual Making Spirits Bright Holiday Light Show from Friday, November 27th through December 31st. This being 2020, so many events are cancelled due to COVID-19 but this works perfectly for social distancing – it’s a drive-thru show!
Making Spirits Bright takes place at Evergreen Park in Sheboygan. You can enjoy a 1.1 mile route through the park, enjoying hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights in displays choreographed to music aired on the dedicated 89.1FM radio setting. The show will be open from 5:00 to 9:00 PM every day from November 27th through New Year’s Eve, except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Admission to Making Spirits Bright is FREE! However, food pantry donations are requested. Items will be delivered to the Sheboygan County Food Bank each night and their volunteers disburse to food pantries throughout the county. With the significant increase in people needing help with basic necessities, the event has historically brought in thousands of pounds of donated items each year. In addition, people are looking forward to any options that allow them to participate as usual prior to the Covid challenges.
Evergreen Park is just off Highway 42 in Sheboygan, just southeast of its interchange with I-43 and a few miles north of the junctions with Highways 23 and 28. Here’s a map of the driving path, right off Highway 42 at Evergreen Park on the north side of Sheboygan (.pdf).
Making Spirits Bright Holiday Light Show Address:
November 27, 2020 – December 31, 2020
Marshfield Rotary Winter Wonderland is back in 2020, entering its 15th year! Since 2006, Rotary Winter Wonderland has grown to reach over 1,000,000 lights along with dozens of additional displays. It takes place in Marshfield’s beautiful Wildwood Park & Zoo, were you can enjoy the drive-thru route and/or the walking route. Doing both is recommended to fully enjoy all of the lights and displays.
There is no admission charge; however free will donations of food and cash are accepted to help the local food pantries and keep it running. Since it began in 2006, Marshfield Rotary Winter Wonderland has provided over 650,000 food items to food pantries in Marshfield and the surrounding area. COVID precautions are being fully taken, as they’ve consulted with health officials in Wood County and the Marshfield Clinic Health System – which is based in Marshfield – to ensure that proper steps are being taken.
Can you bring your pets? Sure, but only if you have them ride with you in the car on the drive-thru portion of the lights. Since it takes place at Wildwood Zoo, pets are not allowed outside for the sake of the zoo animals’ safety. (You can, however, bring kids!)
Winter Wonderland will be open 7 days a week starting right after Thanksgiving and continuing through New Years Eve. The grounds will be open from 5pm to 9pm. They typically stay open even during inclement weather but you can verify on specific night on their Facebook page.
Wildwood Park & Zoo is easy to access on a road trip; it’s along Central Avenue, the Historic Route of Highway 13, on the south side of Marshfield not too far north of U.S. 10 and Highway 80. Highway 13’s “through-pass” route and the southern terminus of Highway 97 also come near, and a southerly ride on Central past downtown brings you right there. There are walk-in entrances at both the north and south sides of the Zoo, along with parking at each, and a drive through entrance off of W. 17th Street. Parking lot spaces are limited; additional parking can be found along Balboa, Adams and Locust, all which run north to south.
Marshfield Rotary Winter Wonderland Address:
November 27, 2020 – December 29, 2020
The Lincoln Park Zoo is a terrific free zoo in the “Coolest Coast” city of Manitowoc. Every holiday season, Lights In Lincoln Park dazzles with a “twinkly bright drive-thru wonder” from November 27th through December 29th, 2020, with a few days off in between (the 13th-16th of December). Along with beautiful lights on trees, trellises and more, enjoy over 70 wild animal light displays, many with animated characters. Among them is animated elephant, a wood duck, a standing polar bear, an animated wolf, and whispering pine tree… just to give you an idea of what you’ll get to enjoy. This is the 9th annual Lights in Lincoln Park and they manage to add new features every year.
Admission is $5 per car and proceeds go to benefit zoo educational programs and enhancements to the Lincoln Park Zoo. You can enter from Waldo/Lincoln Boulevard, right where U.S. 10 and Highway 42 meet. It’s just north of downtown Manitowoc, about two miles north of U.S. 151 and five minutes east of I-43, following the U.S. 10 & Highway 42 EAST (Waldo Blvd.) exit.
Lights In Lincoln Park Hours:
November 27th – December 12th: 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm- Thursday, Friday and Saturday
December 17th – December 29th: 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm- Every Night
There will be no Santa nights due to COVID-19.
Lights in Lincoln Park Family Night Fun Walk is Wednesday December 30th, 2020 from 5:00 pm- 8:00 pm, featuring a fun walk through the Lincoln Park Lights. It’s a great way for the whole family to enjoy the lights and get some steps in! Admission for the Family Night Fun Walk is $5/person or $10/family.
Lights In Lincoln Park Address:
November 27, 2020 – December 24, 2020
West Bend’s Regner Park hosts Washington County’s premier holiday lights event from November 27th through Christmas Eve (December 24th, obviously), 2020 with Enchantment in the Park.
Flush with holiday lights throughout the park, you can do the drive-thru or walk-thru; the drive-thru entrance is off Silverbook Drive while walk-thru visitors are asked to enter via Main Street. The walk-thru is shorter than the drive-thru. Another option is a Horse and Carriage Ride, which costs $5 per person; rides are available for anyone age 16 or over from 5pm – 9pm; they are spacing out riders to follow COVID-19 precautions.
There’s no cost to enter Enchantment in the Park, but donations are welcome – a suggested cash donation is $10; non-perishable food donations are also welcome.
Enchantment in the Park is open daily, 5pm to 9pm. You’ll find Regner Park along Highway 144/Main Street just north of Highway 33 and downtown West Bend. It’s less than five minutes east of the U.S. 45 freeway.
Enchantment in the Park Address:
800 N. Main Street
West Bend, WI 53090
November 27, 2020 – January 2, 2021
A Country Christmas – it’s Wisconsin’s largest outdoor drive-thru lights display, now in its 25th year! It’s back as big as ever in this socially-distanced 2020, letting families enjoy everything from the safety and comfort of their cars. Country Christmas’ popular drive-thru holiday lights display covers the grounds of The Ingleside Hotel in Pewaukee, right along I-94 between County Highways T and G just north of Waukesha. Enjoy unique displays and exhibits like “Bearville,” an area of the trail where you will find giant teddy bears in a church scene, general store, butcher shop, and sausage factory. You can also enjoy Prairieville (Waukesha’s original name) and Old Time Waukesha miniature cities. plus a captivating 200-foot tunnel of 30,000 computerized, pulsating lights!
Along with the drive-thru component, two out of vehicle experiences at the end of the trail will be open for guests that choose to visit, using their own Safe Promise Plan.
Admission to Country Christmas includes access to the following:
• The Country Christmas Trail features over a million holiday lights festively displayed on over a mile-long trail. As guests drive through the countryside, they will experience enchanting animated figures and holiday scenes from the comfort of their car.
• The Streets of Bethlehem is in a building at the end of the drive-through trail. You can get out of your car and walk through the collection of nearly life-sized Fontanini nativity figurines – a replica of the Pope’s personal collection.
• Christmas Village is another building at the end of the trail that you can get out of your car and visit. At Christmas Village, you can enjoy a hot cup of cocoa or an evening treat while surrounded by a cuddly cast of animated holiday characters. The newly rebuilt working model train display is cool, too!
Also, back by popular demand for the 2nd year, wagon rides will be available on the dates of November 29th – December 3rd, December 6th – December 10th, and December 13th – December 17th. Rides start at 5pm, 6pm, 7pm, and 8pm and are $15 per person. Wagon rides include hot chocolate and a Christmas cookie; they can be purchased online. Carload admission is not required for wagon rides.
Country Christmas is again partnering with the Humane Animal Welfare Society of Waukesha County (HAWS). On December 2nd and 9th, $5 of each regular carload admission will go directly back to HAWS. Additionally, HAWS Mobile Adoption Center will have animals on site in Christmas Village those two nights from 5pm-9pm for guests to visit and adopt.
Country Christmas 2020 runs November 27, 2020 through January 2, 2021. Hours for the event are 5pm to 9pm Sunday through Thursday and 5pm to 10pm on Friday, Saturday and Holidays. Admission is $20 per carload. Pricing for passenger vans and limos is $30 and minibus admission is $40. Senior home minibus admission is available for a discounted rate of $25.
Country Christmas at the Ingleside Address:
2810 Golf Road (County DR, along I-94)
Pewaukee, WI 53072
November 27, 2020 – December 30, 2020
The Janesville Holiday Light Show at Rotary Botanical Gardens is an annual holiday highlight in Janesville, the “City of Parks.” Follow the illuminated garden pathways on an evening stroll through the 20-acre botanical gardens, where the wintry garden paths are brought to life with more than ONE MILLION lights, themed light displays and animations, beautifully decorated trees, dangling icicle lights hung from the tallest trees in the Garden and more. Santa makes periodic stops (get the dates HERE), and they have other events like Silly Scarf Night, Holiday Sweater Night, and more.
This year, COVID precautions are being taken AND they’re offering extended hours so more people can visit but still do so safely, with distancing. Masks are required for the indoor and most of the outdoor areas.
Back by popular demand are the Selfie Stops & Photo Opps, with fun props and amazing backdrops that offer holiday photo opportunities both indoors and out. Step inside to enjoy a warm beverage as you watch the 200′ electric model train display, hand-sewn quilts, festive local musicians and holiday shopping.
The Holiday Light Show is open from 4:30pm – 9:00pm on the following long weekends:
November 27-29, 2020
December 3-6, 2020
December 10-13, 2020
December 17-20, 2020
December 26-30, 2020
Admission is $10 for people age 13 and up, $5 for kids ages 3 to 12, and kids 2 and under are free.
It’s recommended this year that you purchase tickets in advance, although you can buy tickets in person at the Gardens between 10am and 3pm Mondays through Saturday. Tickets must be purchased for a specific evening so they can keep proper attendance levels and allow for social distancing.
On-site parking will be available, but you can also take advantage of their FREE shuttle service, beginning at 4:15pm each day of the show. The shuttle picks up visitors at Dawson Field and drops them off at Rotary Botanical Gardens. The shuttle will run throughout the duration of the Holiday Light Show. Dawson Field is located minutes from Rotary Botanical Gardens, at 920 Beloit Ave, Janesville, Wisconsin, 53546.
Janesville Holiday Light Show at Rotary Botanical Gardens Address:
1455 Palmer Drive
Janesville, WI 53545
November 27, 2020 – January 2, 2021
The WPS Garden of Lights brings the magic to the Green Bay Botanical Garden for the 24th year on Thursdays through Sundays from November 27th through December 20th, along with Saturday, December 26th – Wednesday, December 30th and New Year’s Day, Friday, January 1st, 2021 and Saturday, January 2nd. Check out more than 300,000 twinkling lights. Discover a spectacular array of botanical-themed light displays featuring an enchanted icicle forest, glistening flowers, a dazzling 60-foot walk-through caterpillar, and much more. The show is topped off with northeastern Wisconsin’s tallest and brightest shining tree. Enjoy this stunning winter landscape by foot or take a horse-drawn wagon ride.
COVID precautions will be in full swing this year. You must pre-buy your tickets online and arrive during the date and time frame of your tickets, to help maintain proper crowd levels. Face coverings will be required for indoor facilities at the Green Bay Botanical Garden, and are recommended for outdoor areas where it may be tricky to maintain proper social distancing.
- Explore a quarter of a million twinkling lights in botanical-themed light displays
- Indulge in a tasty treat or beverage from the Winterberry Café (they don’t allow carry-ins)
- Enjoy a model train exhibit set up by the G-Gagers Train Club
- Warm up by the campfire
- Shop for holiday gifts in the WPS Trellis Gift Shop
- FREE parking onsite; overflow parking is also free and within walking distance
Other Special Dates & Features:
Horse-Drawn Wagon Rides will be available as in previous years. Seating will be limited, with up to 10 guests per wagon; first come, first served. Tickets for the horse-drawn wagon rides must also be purchased in advance.
Family Night, Sunday, November 29th
Family Night this year will have a different and safer look. Children 12 and under will still get free walking admission with one paid adult admission, however, the tickets must be purchased in advance. Children will also get a free “take home” craft kit and can drop off letters to Santa. Horse-drawn wagon rides will not be available on Family Night.
Letters to Santa will be available every night before Christmas; just place him in the North Pole mailbox.
Photos with Santa will not be available at the Green Bay Botanical Gardens this year, but appointments can be made at the nearby Ambroslus Studios at 2851 S. Packerland Drive by appointment. Call (920) 494-2294 to make one.
The WPS Trellis Gift Shop will be open every event night from 4:30 pm to 9 pm. You can shop for holiday gifts, home décor, locally handcrafted art and unique gardening items.
You’ll find the WPS Garden of Lights inside Green Bay Botanical Garden along Larsen Road, just off Packerland Drive. It’s about a mile west of I-41, between Highway 54 and Highways 29/32. I-43, U.S. 141, and Highways 57 and 172 all bring you to Green Bay, too.
WPS Garden of Lights Address:
Green Bay Botanical Garden
2600 Larsen Road
Green Bay, WI 54303
November 27, 2020 – January 2, 2021
Sam’s Christmas Village & Light Tour is a HUGE show that claims over SIX MILLION LIGHTS – 1.5 million more than last year – so it’s probably visible from space. Sam’s, located right along the Apple River in Somerset, features a 1/2-mile walk-through light tour, plenty of woods with trees adorned with holiday lights, a 500-foot light tunnel, and fun for all ages across 40+ acres of holiday beauty. Sam’s also features a European-style Christmas market with plenty of ideas for holiday gifts, treats, and a lot more.
Along with all the new lights for 2020, Sam’s added a 50-foot animated light tree, 25 NEW light displays, and new kids’ activities. This being 2020, COVID precautions are taken and there’s plenty of room to socially distance. Mondays and Tuesdays are “drive-thru” only for added safety.
Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for kids ages 4 – 10, and free for kids 3 and younger. Military IDs get your 50% off admission as well. Parking is $10, Wednesday – Sunday nights.
Sam’s Christmas Village & Light Tour is open seven days a week. On Mondays and Tuesdays, it’s Drive-Thru only; Wednesdays through Sundays, it’s a walk-through. Hours are 5 pm – 9 pm Sundays through Thursdays, 5 pm – 10 pm Fridays and Saturdays.
For even more adventure, Sam’s offers S’more Cabins, which you can book for $99 and enjoy the heated cabin, a S’more kit for up to 8 people, a campfire starter kit, firewood, and even a special visit from Santa. They have 21 cabins to choose from, and you can book them on drive-thru nights.
Sunday, December 13th, they’ll have a concert featuring Wisconsin’s own Chris Kroeze – calling it a “Kroeze Christmas” – with music starting at 6pm. Proceeds will benefit the #LIVIN Foundation.
You’ll find Sam’s Christmas Village & Light Tour just off Highways 35 and 64 in Somerset, Wisconsin, along the Apple River in St. Croix County.
Sam’s Christmas Village & Light Tour Address:
November 26, 2020 – January 1, 2021
Fond du Lac, which literally means “bottom of the lake” in French, sparkles along the south end of Lake Winnebago during the season with the Lakeside Park Holiday Light Show. Running from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, you can walk or drive through thousands of holiday light displays, animations, and even a music show with dancing trees that will perform for 20 minutes to music you can tune into on a local radio station.
The Lakeside Park Holiday Light Show is FREE. It runs every evening through January 1st!
Fond du Lac is easily accessible via I-41, U.S. 45, U.S. 151, or Highways 23 or 175. Follow U.S. 45 or Highway 23 into downtown and head north along Main Street, you’ll get right there – because any further, and you’d be in Lake Winnebago.
Lakeside Park Holiday Light Show Address:
Fond du Lac, WI 54935
November 21, 2020 – December 31, 2020
Caledonia in northern Racine County features the Wisconsin Christmas Carnival of Lights, hosted Saturday, November 21st through December 31st at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Camp Resort along Highway 38. The first Carnival of Lights took place in 2009 and it has grown in popularity every year since as more and more families experience the magic that the owners, the Isaacson family, have put together.
Every display at the Christmas Carnival of Lights is one-of-a-kind; all in all, it takes five weeks to set it all up. Each year you’ll find something new to see – and as it keeps growing, there are now over TWO MILLION LIGHTS in the trees!
Relax in the safety and comfort of your car as you wind your way through the campground on a 1.6-mile path, with lights on all sides and high above in the trees. Check out one-of-a-kind hand-crafted displays featuring elves, reindeer, forest friends, beloved children’s characters, Santa himself and more – it’s like stepping into one of your favorite Christmas movies. You can drive through the Carnival of Lights display and then enjoy a separate walk-through display, Santa’s Workshop, and more.
Check out their “one horse open sleigh,” too… well, more than one horse. This one seats guests in tiered and comfortable seating, masks are required this year. Some nights you can even ride with the big jolly guy, Santa! Make reservations for the sleigh here. New this year, you can book a ride on the Golf Cart Holiday Train for a ride through the grounds and enjoy all the spectacular sights in a way you never could before.
Believers age 12 and under can write Santa a letter on the nights they cannot meet him in person and we’ll make sure he receives it. Santa then emails a personalized letter back to each child! (Deadline for receiving a response is December 20.)
Also new this year in Santas Workshop is “Evy the Evergreen”. Evy is a 7 foot tall, magical Christmas tree. He talks, leads friends in Christmas Carols and tells stories like “The Night Before Christmas”. Evy is available every night to visit with friends and spread Christmas cheer.
Enjoy a variety of beverages available at Santa’s Workshop, including hot chocolate, apple cider, lattes, mochas and more.
Admission is $20/car – up to 8 people per car. Larger passenger vans, campers, limos, and mini buses are $30; large buses or motorhomes are $35. They take cash only, but there is an ATM on site. The Wisconsin Christmas Carnival of Lights will partner with the Ronald McDonald House Charities for the holiday season, donating $1 per car, up to 4,000 cars.
Sunday – Thursday: 5-9 pm
Friday – Saturday: 5-10 pm
Open every day except November 23-27 and December 25, Christmas Day
Wisconsin Christmas Carnival of Lights Address:
You’ll find Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park along Highway 38 in northern Racine County. It’s about three miles south of Highway 100, a little over two miles east and north from I-41/94, and three miles west of Highway 32.
November 20, 2020 – January 3, 2021
Boerner Botanical Gardens Winter Wonders Drive-Thru Holiday Light Show ushers in holiday cheer with brilliant light displays, inflatable Santas, and massive, color-changing trees as part of an international-themed drive-thru experience with OVER ONE MILLION LIGHTS! From Friday, November 20th all the way through Sunday, January 3rd in 2021 (including all holidays), you and your family and friends can enjoy holiday displays from Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and the United States on a 1.4-mile route winding through Whitnall Park and the grounds of the Gardens themselves. Theatrical and concert lighting effects change the colors of giant trees and bushes on the route in spectacular fashion. From 20-foot tall inflatable Santas to neon palm trees, there are unique holiday displays around every corner. There’s even a mini drive-in theater!
Admission is $26.50 per carload, defined as any car, van, mini-van, pick-up truck, or SUV. You need to purchase your tickets online in advance. “Skip the Line” tickets gain early access between 4:30pm and 5:00pm for $36.50. Planning on showing up in a limo? They have a price for that, too: $51.50 (yes, just like the Van Halen album.) $51.50 also nets you a Season Pass for a car, good for up to four visits from November 20th up through January 3rd.
COVID-19 health and safety guidelines are being followed and, this being a drive-thru, it’s designed to be as touch-free as possible. This include touchless ticket scanning upon entry through your car window and a “no contact” gift bag delivery to your vehicle!
You can get to Boerner Botanical Gardens just off U.S. 45/Highway 100 and Highway 24 via Whitnall Park in Hales Corners. I-41/894 & I-43 are also close by! The entrance for this route is just off S. 92nd Street between College and Rawson Avenues; the address is 6751 S. 92nd Street, Franklin, WI 53132 for your GPS. It’s the same entrance as Whitnall Park Golf Course.
Boerner Botanical Gardens Winter Wonders Drive-Thru Holiday Light Show Address:
November 19, 2020 – January 1, 2021
The annual Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival is “snowically-distanced” this year. It’s the 22nd year of this celebration, and once again Milwaukee will sparkle with lights and decorations in venues across downtown, including up and down Wisconsin Avenue, where every intersection features iconic chandeliers.
This being 2020, the Jingle Bus is taking the year off, but if you mask up and practice social distancing, you can enjoy Milwaukee’s joyous, open-air winter fest. You can visit all three decorated parks as well as the dazzling downtown decor on foot or in the car.
A podcast called the MKE Jingle Bus Tour featuring Milwaukee Downtown BID CEO Beth Weirick and State Trunk Tour founder Eric Paulsen (who also served as a DJ on 95.7 BIG FM in Milwaukee during this interview) describing the Holiday Lights at each stop is available in five brief, illustrative podcast episodes:
The four decorated parks for the Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival include:
“Community Spirit Park presented by Madison Medical Affiliates” at Cathedral Square Park (520 E. Wells Street, U.S. 18 & Highway 32), home to over 100 decorated evergreens along with Santa’s Mailbox presented by Educators Credit Union and Serving Older Adults. Children can drop their letter to Santa in the box through December 13th and receive a personalized response in return.
“Tinsel Town Express” at Pere Marquette Park (900 N. Plankinton Avenue, just south of U.S. 18/State Street) features a lighted scene from the North Pole’s special delivery depot. Plus, visit Ideal Property Management’s festive tree lot to pick up all of your holiday greenery.
“Polar Plaza powered by We Energies” is a favorite destination for photo ops at Zeidler Square (301 W. Michigan Avenue.) Take a snapshot in Santa’s chair and stroll the stunning lighted displays. Plus, in December, Polar Plaza will host Jingle Joy Boxes by Milwaukee Food & City Tours!
Red Arrow Park, a block east of the Milwaukee River across the street from the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, features lights, decorations, and a beautiful ice skating rink in the heart of downtown.
It all kicks off Thursday, November 19 at 6:30pm, where Milwaukee’s ABC affiliate, WISN 12, will feature holiday acts on stage in a televised performance. Plus, tune in for a surprise finale that Milwaukee has never seen before.
The lights and decorations downtown continue all the way through New Year’s Day 2021, because we’re all ready for a new year.
Of course, a TON of road trip routes bring you to downtown Milwaukee: I-94, I-43, I-794, U.S. 18, and Highways 32 and 145 bring you right to it. Highways 38 (Chase Avenue/6th Street), 57 (27th Street/Highland/20th Street), 59 (National Avenue), and 175 (Appleton and Lisbon Avenues, Miller Park Way) all bring you close.
November 18, 2020 – January 3, 2021
The Wonderland of Lights creates holiday magic at Racine Zoo, now through January 3, 2021. Enjoy dazzling illuminations from the safety and comfort of your own vehicle! This is a drive-thru this year, filled with enchanting light displays of delightfully decorated trees, characters, a 96-foot “drive-thru” tunnel with an incredible show of dynamic designs, and more. It’s perfect for any age, but children ages 15 and younger also get a FREE piece of Yowie Candy during their visit, while supplies last!
Admission is $5/person, kids 2 years old and younger are admitted free. Cash or credit cards are accepted at the gate. The Wonderland of Lights is open from 5pm to 9pm Wednesdays – Sundays, and will be open on both Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
The drive-thru works by having drivers enter at the 200 Goold Street gate entrance on the corner of Goold and Michigan Boulevard, just a few blocks east of Highway 32. People MUST queue on Michigan Boulevard along the lakefront; no left turns from Goold Street are allowed. Cars, minivans, and pickup trucks are welcome, please note that the height limit is 9 feet, 4 inches. Oversize vehicles, RVs, motorcycles, and recreational devices such as bicycles, scooters, skateboards, etc. are not permitted. No honking is allowed (this is a zoo, please be respectful of the nearby animals) and the maximum speed allowed is 3mph.
Since it is a drive-thru only experience, masks are not required, but they do ask that you remain in your vehicle at all times.
The Racine Zoo is just north of downtown Racine along Lake Michigan, about 8 miles east of I-41/94. Highways 11, 20, 32, and 38 bring you into town; Highway 32 comes closest to the zoo. Map and queue directions can be found here. And ENJOY!
Wonderland of Lights Address:
200 Goold Street
Racine, WI 53402
November 6, 2020 – November 8, 2020
West Bend’s Museum of Wisconsin Art offers Bloomin’ Holidays the first full weekend of November. In this crazy year, a “Floral Sanctuary” is the theme, showcasing (as they note) the “ephemeral beauty of flowers.” The event technically begins Friday, November 6th, but earlier in the week the museum will kick things off with a rather impressive large-scale exterior art installation using animated video projection right onto the building. The event itself includes three full days of floral arrangements throughout the museum, including pre-recorded video experts who discuss the flowers in 15-minutes talks throughout the weekend, on display in the atrium. The expanded MOWA Shop will offer a variety of gift giving items including unique hats, soaps, candles, ceramic dishware, and even delicious chocolates and maple syrup.
Featured Designers and Programs include:
Michael Alt, who will install a spectacular floral installation the museum’s atrium. Alt, who owns a shop in Milwaukee’s Walkers Point with his name on it, was awarded Best of Show at both 2017 and 2018 Bloomin’ Holidays for his creative floral masterpieces.
At Home with Ikebana featuring Elaine Jo, author and the Executive Master of the Ichiyo School of Ikebana. What is Ikebana, you ask? It’s the ancient Japanese art of flower arranging, used for centuries to bring harmony to living spaces. She will demonstrate how to arrange and position different flowers to create specific moods, effects, and feelings.
Enhancing Your Living Space featuring Zannah Crowe, a horticulturalist at Johnson’s Gardens, will help you discover ways to bring a beautiful, natural exterior to your indoor spaces. She’ll share tips for the proper care and placement of house plants, so you can benefit from that extra boost in mood and oxygen!
Grapevine Wreaths featuring Dane County botanist Kevin Kawula will help you learn which wood and vine elements can be best used for floral arrangements; he’ll also demonstrate the construction of a natural, DIY grapevine wreath for your home.
Fall Forage featuring John Holzwart from Plant Based Services LLC will showcase our native Wisconsin plant life, complete with tips and information on local foraging, medicinal plant life, and seasonal flower collecting.
Timed Entry due to COVID for safety and enjoyment
MOWA provides a safe socially distanced experience, limiting gallery capacity to 25% or less. To ensure you can visit at your preferred time during Bloomin’ Holidays, you can make a timed reservation for Friday, November 6th, Saturday, November 7th, or Sunday, November 8th. You can also call (262) 334-9638. If you don’t make a reservation beforehand, you will be welcomed in at the first available entry time. Please note, the 9:30-11:30 timed entry reservations will be reserved for seniors and at-risk members.
The Museum of Wisconsin Art is in the heart of West Bend, just east across the Milwaukee River from the downtown shops. It’s accessible right off Highways 33; Highway 144 meets up just across the river. U.S. 45’s freeway bypass is just a few miles to the west and provides quick access to West Bend, and following the historic U.S. 45 route (Main Street) from the south brings you right there.
Bloomin’ Holidays Address:
Wisconsin Museum of Art
205 Veterans Avenue
West Bend, WI 53095
January 24, 2020 – February 9, 2020
The Lantern Festival at the Racine Zoo is a spectacular nighttime event, covering the zoo with incredible works of art! From tigers, lions, pandas, exotic flora, and a colossal dragon, Racine Zoo will be transformed into a world of illumination with custom-made lanterns. To top it off, an array of food and drink options will make the Lantern Festival a truly unforgettable event.
The Racine Zoo Lantern Festival continues in 2020 to run on weekends through February 9th.
Lantern Festival Hours:
Fridays – Sundays: 5pm – 8pm (Last entry 8pm. Zoo closes at 9pm.)
Ticket Prices: $5!!
Kids 2 and under are admitted free.
**Children 15 and younger need to be accompanied by a paying adult**. Also, note a $2.50 processing fee may be added if you pay with a credit card at the gate. But still, that’s a great deal!
Racine Zoo Lantern Festival Address:
2131 N. Main Street
Racine, WI 53402
December 31, 2019 – January 1, 2020
Forget the “Big Apple” – go “Big Cherry”! The 3rd annual Door County Cherry Drop takes place this New Year’s Eve in Sister Bay to ring in 2020. This new event takes place after the 6th annual “In With a Bang!” New Year’s Eve Fireworks Show, the only major fireworks show on the Door Peninsula. And really, what better way to say goodbye to 2019 and hello to 2020 in Door County than by dropping a giant cherry up to the stroke of midnight?
Begin with the fireworks, scheduled for 8:00 pm on Tuesday, December 31, at the Sister Bay Marina along Highway 42. They’re promising the biggest finale ever for the fireworks this year – even though they say that every year. Before and after the fireworks show, check out the village restaurants and bars for their celebration menus and specials. The fireworks are sponsored by the Village of Sister Bay.
Top off your evening with the 3rd Annual Door County Cherry Drop, presented by one of our favorite Wisconsin radio stations, FM 106.9 The Lodge. Enjoy live music and libations at both Husby’s & Sister Bay Bowl, and then The Lodge will warm up the event with the biggest party tunes of all time starting at 10:30pm, broadcasting live from both Husby’s and The Sister Bay Bowl. Shortly before midnight, the giant sparkling cherry will drop in Sister Bay and welcome in 2020. You should too! The party continues for a while because, as you know, you have to keep it going for a while once a new year begins.
Find out more about the event in my State Trunk Tour podcast discussion with Jaime Forest from the Door County Radio Group! Listen on your free iHeartRadio app here or right on this page via Spreaker below:
You’ll find the festivities for the 6th annual In With A Bang! Fireworks show and the 3rd annual Door County Cherry Drop along Highway 42 in Sister Bay, where Highway 57 ends. You’ll probably want to stay overnight, so find lodging and other resources at ComeToSisterBay.com.
Door County Cherry Drop & In With a Bang! Fireworks Show Address:
December 26, 2019 – December 31, 2019
Carp Fest: New York drops a lit ball at New Years’ Eve; Prairie du Chien drops a carp!
Yes, Prairie du Chien drops a real carp on New Year’s Eve. The carp, caught in the Mississippi, is named “Lucky”, and then frozen until New Years’ Eve. Lucky is then adorned with makeup and lights and lowered via crane. As soon as they ring in the New Year, people can kiss Lucky for good luck.
How’s that for a New Years’ Eve fish story?
Prairie du Chien, always down for a good, expanded party, has taken the original New Year’s Eve “Droppin’ of the Carp” and expanded it to a multi-day event with a variety of activities, many of which are quite family-friendly. There’s a a bowling party on Friday, December 27th at the nearby Leisure Time Sports Bar, followed by a Euchre Contest on Monday, December 30th at Hoffman Hall.
The BIG party for Carp Fest is the New Year’s Eve party that takes place on the west edge of downtown Prairie du Chien on St. Feriole Island Park by the Mississippi River. It starts at 9pm and culminates with the “Droppin’ of the Carp” a little before midnight to ring in 2020!
A earlier version of the carp drop for children and families – featuring “Lucky Carp Jr.” – takes place indoors at Hoffman Hall (1600 Wacouta Street.) The Family “Droppin of the Carp” takes place New Year’s Eve from 5pm – 6:30pm at Hoffman Hall featuring Arts & Crafts, Face Painting, Miniature Dairy Goats, and Carnival Games. You can also meet the Carp King & Queen, meet Master Gardeners & Bixby The Rabbit, and Exotic Animals from Ridgetop Rescue. Of course they’ll have noisemakers and hats, plus Carp Corn, Pizza, and Hot Carp Chocolate (yes, we’re curious too…) for $1 each. This event is sponsored by Valley Fish & Cheese, a State Trunk Tour favorite located just east of the Mississippi River bridge where eastbound Highway 27 begins. Check out the shop, owned by “Sturgeon General” Mike Valley, and its incredible selection of fresh fish, meats, cheeses, uniquely Wisconsin items, and more!
Carp Fest Address:
St. Feriole Island
900 W. Blackhawk Avenue
Prairie du Chien, WI 53821
Back to StateTrunkTour.com
December 14, 2019
A Pinecrest Christmas brings holiday cheer to Pinecrest Historical Village, a beautiful and attractive 19th century village featuring actual historic – and generally relocated – original Manitowoc County buildings. A Pinecrest Christmas takes place Saturday, December 14th with a ton of events.
Help decorate the tree with the Sorenson family and participate in their holiday traditions. Head on over to the Print Shop to learn the art of printing while making your own holiday cards! In the Two Creeks Town Hall, enjoy decorating Christmas cookies and sipping hot cider during breaks from dancing to live music. While the kids visit Santa in the decorated Visitor Center, adults can shop for unique gifts in the Museum Store. Pinecrest Village is the perfect place to enjoy the simple traditions of the holiday season!
Kids can enlist in the American Junior Red Cross, print their own postcard, view the latest camera technology, and more! Check out the historic buildings too, from an original bank, tavern, and schoolhouse to a town hall – all originals from around Manitowoc County.
Pinecrest Historical Village will be trimmed for the holidays, and wood-fired stoves will beckon with the promise of warmth and good cheer. Be sure to meet their 20th-century Santa and his reindeer for your one-of-a-kind holiday photo from noon to 2 p.m.
Timed Performances for A Pinecrest Christmas, at Niles Church:
Lincoln Singers, Noon – 12:30 pm
Mishicot Soundwave, 1pm – 2pm
Baked goods, hot cider, and hot chocolate will be for sale, in support of youth education programs. The Museum Store will offer historically themed gifts for all ages.
Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for children age 5 to 17, under age 5 is free
To get to Pinecrest Historical Village, follow County JJ west from I-43 and U.S. 10/Highway 42 (Waldo Drive) about six miles. Or follow County S to JJ north from US 151 just east of Valders. And of course, there’s plenty to explore in Manitowoc and Two Rivers, and throughout Manitowoc County any time of year!
Address for A Pinecrest Christmas:
Pinecrest Historical Village
924 Pinecrest Lane
Manitowoc, WI 54220