Brew the hot cocoa and buckle up!
With the days getting shorter, there’s something truly magical about driving around to look at Christmas lights this time of year – for kids and adults alike.
This holiday season, we found 15 dazzling holiday light displays that your whole family will love. From the Holiday Lights Festival in downtown Milwaukee to Country Christmas in Pewaukee, you’re sure to find something in the Milwaukee area that will get you into the holiday spirit.
Whether you decide to take in the beauty of the season from the warmth of your car or while strolling in the crisp winter air, the kids are sure to delight in these spectacular holiday lights displays:
1. Wild Lights at Milwaukee County Zoo
Location: 10001 W Bluemound Rd, Milwaukee, WI 53226
Dec. 1-31; except closed Dec. 4, 5, 11, 12, 24, and 25
5:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. (admission gates close at 8:15 p.m.)
For the third year, the Zoo will transform into an illuminated destination, letting guests enjoy an enchanted evening under the stars while they stroll along a 1-mile path filled with vibrant, animal-themed light displays.
There will be hundreds of thousands of glittering lights throughout the forests and pathways – even more than in 2022! Expect sparkling sculptures of a gorilla, gazelle, rhino, zebras, and a dazzling peacock photo opportunity.
The carousel and Safari Train will be running (weather permitting), and festive food and drinks will be available for purchase.
Wild Lights Wednesdays (Dec. 6, 13, 20 only)
Adult or Child: $12 at the gate and online; no additional discount for Zoological Society members
New This Year: Wild Lights Drive Thru (Dec. 3, 10, 17, 18, 19 only)
Advance, online tickets only*
Zoological Society members save 20% online with code jolly and member ID. Discount must be applied at the time of purchase.
*Because of the nature of this experience, entry is only at the purchased time.
3. The Wisconsin Christmas Carnival of Lights
Location: Jellystone Park Camp-Resort, 8425 Hwy 38, Caledonia, WI 53108
Dates: Saturday, Nov 18, 2023 – Monday, Jan 1, 2024 (Closed 11/23-11/24 and Christmas Day)
Families are invited to immerse themselves in the magic of Southeastern Wisconsin’s most dazzling 1.6-mile drive-through light show, featuring over two million spectacular lights that are synchronized to music.
It’s organized by locally owned and operated Jellystone Park™ in Caledonia, conveniently 10 minutes south of General Mitchell Airport.
Throughout the entire holiday season, guests can enjoy the light show in a variety of ways: from the comfort of their own vehicle, aboard Santa’s GIANT Sleigh (an open-air tiered sleigh with 43 seats, perfect for large groups), or on the Golf Cart Holiday Train, a delightful option for families seeking an open-air experience, accommodating up to six passengers.
This year’s Golf Cart Holiday Train introduces an exciting addition – golf cart participants will have a dedicated area of the show, exclusive to them! Here, guests will be able to get off of their golf carts and take pictures among the dazzling light displays.
For more details, tickets, and reservations, visit wichristmascarnival.com or follow the Christmas Carnival of Lights on social media.
3. Candy Cane Lane
Location: West Allis between 92nd-96th St. and between Montana Avenue and Oklahoma Avenue.
Dates: November 24th – December 25th, 2023
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 6-9 p.m.; Friday 6-10 p.m.; Saturday 5-10 p.m.; Sunday 5-9 p.m.
Entry fee: At-will donation to the MACC Fund
There’s no better way to celebrate the holiday season in Milwaukee than with a visit to Candy Cane Lane. It is the perfect holiday tradition for any family who loves Christmas lights. Just look for the candy canes!
Grab some hot cocoa-to-go, and drive over to this brightly lit West Allis neighborhood (bordered by Montana Avenue on the north, Oklahoma Avenue to the south, 96th Street to the west, and 92nd Street on the east.)
You’ll enter to find a winter wonderland with candy cane-wrapped trees and more than 300 houses full of festive holiday lights. You can drive (with your lights on) or walk through for a chance to see Mr. and Mrs. Claus spreading holiday cheer.
Residents in the neighborhood began decorating their houses in the 1980’s to cheer up a local boy who had been diagnosed with cancer. He survived and lives in New Berlin today.
You can leave a donation for the MACC fund (which fights childhood cancer) at 95th and Manitoba.
4. Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival
Location: Downtown Milwaukee, including Pere Marquette Park, Cathedral Square Park, and Zeidler Union Square, Wisconsin Avenue
Dates: November 16, 2023 – January 1, 202
Entry fee: FREE
For 25 seasons, the Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival has made spirits bright in the city of Milwaukee with its animated sculptures, interactive displays and twinkling street décor.
Take a stroll or a drive and experience the brilliance of more than 500,000 lights throughout downtown’s parks and streets, including Pere Marquette Park, Cathedral Square Park, Zeidler Union Square, and sparking chandeliers on E. Wisconsin Ave. You can also drop off your Christmas list in Santa’s Mailbox at Cathedral Square Park (November 7th – December 17th, 2023).
Don’t miss the return of the Kickoff Extravaganza in Pere Marquette Park on November 16 at 6:30 p.m. (pre-show entertainment starting at 5 p.m.). This holiday spectacular features live musical performances, a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, a magnificent fireworks display and complimentary cocoa and cookies.
Jingle Bus tickets are $5 per person and must be purchased in advance at milwaukeeholidaylights.com. Guests can choose their tour date and time online, with a Spanish tour option. (The Jingle Bus will be free on Nov. 16, 7-9 p.m., following the Kickoff Extravaganza.)
Buses will depart from the Warming House at The Avenue, 275 W. Wisconsin Avenue, where parking is only $3 for Jingle Bus riders. Enjoy free treats inside the Warming House, and take in the amenities of the adjacent 3rd Street Market Hall.
5. Lights on Glen Cove (Free)
Location: S71 W16459 Glen Cove Ct. Muskego, WI 53150 (off Janesville Rd.)
Dates: Starting the second week of December
Entry fee: Non-perishable food item or monetary donation for the Muskego Food Pantry
For a unique experience, marvel at over 35,000 LED lights synchronized to holiday music broadcast on 87.9 FM. The lights run every night starting at 5 p.m., running through 9 p.m. on weekdays and 10 p.m. on weekends (weather permitting). Special VIP showings are available too!
6. Country Christmas at the Ingleside Hotel
Location: 2810 Golf Rd., Pewaukee, WI 53072
Walking Dates: November 17, 18, 19, 2023
Drive-Through Dates: November 24, 2023 – November 29, 2023 | December 1, 2023 – January 1, 2024
Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 5-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday and holidays, 5-10 p.m.
Entry fee: $25 per carload Sunday-Thursday; $30 per carload Friday-Saturday and holidays; $7 per person on walking dates
Each year, The Ingleside Hotel is transformed into a winter wonderland called Country Christmas. Admission to Wisconsin’s favorite 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.
Admission to Country Christmas includes The Country Christmas Trail, which features over a million holiday lights festively displayed on a trail that’s more than one mile long. Drive through the countryside and experience enchanting animated figures and holiday scenes from the comfort of your car. Wagon rides are also available.
For three nights only you can walk through the illuminated displays for $7 per person.
The Streets of Bethlehem is a building located at the end of the drive-through trail. Guests can get out of their car and walk through the collection of nearly life-size Fontanini nativity figurines. Country Christmas has the only display of this magnitude in the area, a replica of the Pope’s personal collection.
Christmas Village is another warming house at the end of the trail, where guests can get out of their car and enjoy a hot cup of cocoa or an evening treat while surrounded by a cuddly cast of animated holiday characters and a spectacular working model train display.
7. Enchantment in the Park
Location: Regner Park, 800 N. Main Street, West Bend, WI 53090
Dates: November 24 through December 24, 2023
Entry fee: Donation of cash, check ($10 is suggested) or non-perishable food items
Enchantment in the Park is a drive-thru holiday adventure that stretches more than a mile through Regner Park (and includes a shorter walk-through route), winding through dancing light arches, twinkling pines, and larger than life holiday scenes, all leading to Santa’s Workshop.
At Santa’s Workshop people of all ages can gather for hot cocoa, concessions, live entertainment and of course, snap a picture with Santa himself.
Horse drawn carriage rides through the park will also be available on select evenings.
8. Miller Valley Holiday Lites
Location: Miller Valley, 3897 W State St, Milwaukee, WI 53208
Entry fee: FREE
From December 1st-27th, the annual Holiday Lites show will be happening every 10 minutes from 6-10pm every night. Pull up your car across from the historic Frederick Miller’s Plank-Road Brewery and tune your radio to 91.1 for festive music!
9. Winter Wonders at Boerner Botanical Gardens
Location: Whitnall Park, 6751 S. 92nd Street, Franklin, WI 53132
Dates: November 24th thru December 31st, 2023
Hours: 5-9 p.m. (Line opens at 4:30 p.m., Last entry at 8:45 p.m.)
Entry fee: $25/carload
Winter Wonders, the popular drive-through holiday light display, produced by EgoTech LLC, is returning for the 2023 season.
The route, one of the longest in the area at 1.4-miles, will feature more than one million LED lights set in the area surrounding the Boerner Botanical Arboretum and Whitnall Park.
Attendees will enjoy over 500 illuminated trees, along with various holiday-themed attractions, including many new festive displays for the 2023 season.
10. Kapco’s Kids2Kids Christmas Light Experience & Toy Collection
Location: 885 Badger Circle, Grafton, WI 53024
Entry fee: FREE
11. Winter Wonderland in the Garden District (Free!)
Location: 6th & Howard in Milwaukee, WI
Entry fee: FREE
12. Illuminate Ozaukee
Location: Herman A. Zeunert Park, N25 W5598 Taft St, Cedarburg, WI 53012
Fridays and Saturdays in December until December 23rd.
Hours: 5:00-8:00 p.m.
Entry fee: Free, but a donation will support Ozaukee Nonprofit Center and nonprofit partner agencies.
Located in downtown Cedarburg, Illuminate Ozaukee is a drive-through holiday light show that helps support and illuminate the human service nonprofits of Ozaukee County.
Santa will be on hand every night to say hello; bring your letters to drop into his mailbox!
Plus, don’t forget to vote for your favorite plot in the display competition. Each one is decorated by local nonprofits and local businesses.
13. Santa’s Workshop (Free!)
Location: Washington Avenue, downtown Cedarburg, WI 53012
Entry fee: FREE (donations appreciated)
Thanks to generous grants from the Greater Cedarburg Foundation and Festivals of Cedarburg, Inc., a charming 15×15-foot 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!
Santa’s helpers will be welcoming walk-up visitors and scheduling families into time slots the day of each event. On Friday, December 23, Santa and Mrs. Claus will spend the evening walking around Cedarburg and posing for photos!
14. The Lightmare Before Christmas (Free!)
Location: N102W17515 Lone Oaks Dr., Germantown, WI 53022
Dates: Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve
Entry fee: FREE
The same Germantown house that hosts a not-so-spooky Halloween light show in October also does a very merry Christmas show set to music. It runs from shortly after Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve.
Songs include traditional holiday classics as well as contemporary favorites, and the playlist changes nightly throughout the holiday season. Tune your car radio to 101.5 FM, sit back and enjoy the show.
The house is located in the Lone Oaks subdivision, one mile north of County Line Road and just west of Division Road.
15. The Corners of Brookfield
Location: 20111 W Bluemound Rd, Brookfield, WI 53045
From Thanksgiving through the New Year, The Corners will light up the night with larger-than-life light installations and displays, including an all-new, 16ft. holiday teddy bear lighted with more than 3,500 lights in the center’s Market Square.
In honor of the giant teddy bear addition, The Corners of Brookfield is partnering with Make-A-Wish Wisconsin to host a toy drive from Nov. 24 – Nov. 26. The community is encouraged to drop off teddy bears and other toys to bins located in Market Square, which will then be donated to wish children this holiday season. Find the 2023 Toy Closet ask list here for accepted items.
Also beginning Black Friday, Nov. 24, Santa’s mailbox will arrive in Market Square vestibule allowing little boys and girls to deposit their wish list letters to Santa all season long.
A sell-out event each year, live reindeer will visit the town center on Sunday, Dec. 17 from 3pm – 6pm. Registered guests will have the opportunity during their allotted time slot to visit with and pose for a photo with the live reindeer. Tickets go on sale on Monday, Nov. 27 at 10am, here. Attendees can also find the registration link on the Corners of Brookfield website and Instagram bio.
The beloved annual Town Holiday Tree Lighting, presented by Aspire Dance Center and Landmark Credit Union, will once again return this year on Saturday, Dec. 2 from 3 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. The Corners, Town of Brookfield and Discover Brookfield invite the community to kick off the holiday season with the lighting of the Town tree, live entertainment, refreshments and more.
16. Jamestown Lights (Free!)
Taurus Drive (South) Just East of Highway K and 38, Caledonia, WI, United States, 53406
Head to Caledonia where seven home in the Jamestown subdivision decorate with lights synchronized to a music program heard on 97.7 FM. It’s now in its 14th year!
Don’t miss the talking tree called Douglas Fir, and he has a co-host guitar playing tree by the name of Randy Balsam.
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