The ultimate guide to winter festivals


There may not be as much snow on the ground as usual, but winter is here and it's time to make the best of it. If you're looking for ways to enjoy the outdoors with your kids even in the winter, look no further.

Here are some kid-friendly winter festivals happening around town. Let me know if you end up going and how it went!

1. Waukesha Janboree

January 20-22

Throughout Waukesha

Horse-drawn wagon rides, stargazing planetarium shows, nature activities, and more!

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2. Winterfest (Boerner Botanical Gardens) - Free!

Sunday, January 22nd

10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Boerner Botanical Gardens (9400 Boerner Drive, Hales Corners, WI 53130)

Conquer your cabin fever with special nature walks, indoor and outdoor games and activities, entertainment by Miss Sparkle the Clown, hot drinks, and family fun! Free admission; $5 suggested donation for winter nature walks. The event will be held in the Boerner Visitor Center.

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3. Winterfest 2017 (Urban Ecology Center) - Free!

Saturday, January 28th

12:00-4:00

Urban Ecology Center (Washington Park - 1859 N 40th St, Milwaukee, WI 53208)

(Photo: Chris von Briesen)

All are welcome to this free family festival! Take in Wisconsin's beautiful winter on the Urban Ecology Center's skating rink and sledding hill. There will also be music, crafts, homemade pies, guided nature walks and plenty of hot cocoa.

Plus, don't miss Winterfest for afternoon nappers. (Thank you, Urban Ecology Center! You get me.) For children ages 5 and younger accompanied by an adult, the morning version of Winterfest will feature a craft, hike and puppet show. Please register all children. Space is limited.

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4. Winter Carnival (Lynden Sculpture Garden)

Saturday, January 28th

10:00-4:00

Lynden Sculpture Garden (2145 W Brown Deer Rd, Milwaukee, WI 53217)

(Photo: Lynden Sculpture Garden)

The Lynden Sculpture Garden's annual Winter Carnival features outdoor art-making, studio activities, scavenger hunts, hikes and parades, ice skating, painting the pond, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and more! Plus, local artists are planning creative projects and performances for all to enjoy. The Little Havana Express food truck will be serving Cuban cuisine from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Free to members or with admission to the sculpture garden. Prices for nonmembers: $9 general admission and $7 students & seniors. Kids under 6 are free. Family passes for nonmembers will be available at the door for $20.

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5. Winter Carnival at Schlitz Audubon Nature Center

Sunday, January 29th

10:00-4:00

Schlitz Audubon Nature Center (1111 E Brown Deer Rd, Milwaukee, WI 53217)

Enjoy Horse Drawn Wagon Rides at the “Grassy” Lot Starting at 10:15 a.m., guided lake and trail hikes, Kohl’s Wild Theater, Whiz Bang Zoom Liquid Nitrogen, an Owl Meet and Greet, plus drop-in activities including snowshoeing, live animals, snow bowling, sledding, winter crafts, an animal den and s'mores!

All Members: $5 Non-Members: Adult $10 | Youth $5

All parking for Winter Carnival is at Bayside School, 601 E. Ellsworth Lane. Free shuttle buses will bring everyone to Schlitz Audubon. The Schlitz Audubon lot is reserved for handicapped parking only.

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6. Winter Frolic (Mequon Nature Preserve)

Saturday, February 4th

10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Mequon Nature Preserve (8200 W County Line Rd, Mequon, WI 53097)

Food will include Yellowbellies, Gouda Girls, Milwaukee Pretzel, and New Fortune. Activities will feature the Alaskan Malamute Dog Sled Demos with AMCW, tractor rides and petting zoo with Cedarburg Creek Farms, sleigh rides with Kettle Moraine Carriages, workshops with REI and Midwest Conservation Dogs, a winter marketplace, kids craft corner, ice fishing, bonfires, and snowman building.

There will also be live music with Mississippi Sawyer, storytime and meet and greet with Frozen characters, and an amateur lumberjack competition!

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7. Winter Festival (Cedarburg)

February 18th and 19th

Downtown Historic Cedarburg (W63 N641 Washington Ave, Cedarburg, WI 53012)

Dust off your mardi gras masks and beads for Cedarburg’s 2017 Winter Festival on Saturday, February 18 & Sunday, February 19, 2017. Festivities will take place throughout the heart of Cedarburg on Washington Avenue from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. For those ready to get outside, outdoor fun includes themed costumed bed races, themed ice carving competitions, parades and sporting events. For festgoers ready to test their endurance, barrel rolling, sledding, ice skating, and camel rides might be in order. Indoor fun includes chili contests, music, beer tasting and a dodgeball tournament!

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