Celebrating the Holidays in Milwaukee

Activities, Site InSpections

Festive lights, traditional fare and exciting seasonal events make the holidays in Milwaukee bright

Want to have a really happy holiday? Travel to Wisconsin’s biggest city for spectacular holiday festivities from traditional German fare and brewery tours to classic ballets and ice skating. The holidays in Milwaukee makes groups’ holiday seasons merry and bright.

Lights, Lights, and More Lights

China Lights is on display in Boerner Botanical Gardens in September and October, with handmade light displays ranging in height from three feet to three stories. The pre-holiday festival includes an expanded interactive exhibit area, two stages for Asian folk-culture performances, a marketplace, two dining areas and various vendors offering Asian and Western menu options.

The holidays in Milwaukee shine with the Holiday Lights Festival in November and December. In addition to dazzling displays in Cathedral Square, Pere Marquette and Zeidler Union Square Parks, groups can enjoy a range of activities. Drop off your wishes in Santa’s Mailbox then ride on the Jingle Bus around the decorated parks.

You can also take a trip down Candy Cane Lane, where neighbors decorate their homes in bright lights, shining candy canes, light-up reindeer and more.

Food and Drink Tours

Milwaukee Food Tours offers its Christmas Lights and Desserts bus excursion during holiday time with the perfect mix of history, Milwaukee Christmas traditions, tasty treats and a dash of light-hearted holiday spirit. The two-and-a-half-hour narrated tour departs from downtown Milwaukee and features Holiday Lights Festival stops and additional Christmastime sights. Plus, you’ll sample hot chocolate (or coffee) and desserts from local restaurants.

Another Milwaukee Food Tours holiday favorite is the Christmas Around Milwaukee Bakery Bus Tour. This is an excellent opportunity to celebrate the holidays with friends and family while sampling delicious holiday bakery treats. Departing from downtown Milwaukee, guests will hear engaging stories of ethnic holiday traditions on the way to area bakeries for signature cookies, candies and pastries.

Pie is a year-round treat, but an absolute must during the holidays. Milwaukeeans often get their double-crust fix from The Elegant Farmer’s award-winning Apple Pie Baked in a Paper Bag. This has been a signature item for decades, baking over a quarter of a million pies each year.

Celebrating the holidays in Milwaukee

Let the fresh, crisp taste of beer warm your insides at numerous Milwaukee brewery tours. Experience more than 160 years of brewing history in a Miller Brewing Tour. Have a side of laughs with your beer at the top-rated Lakefront Brewery tour. Or “seek the good” at Good City Brewing by sampling seasonal brews like its Lord Lyon Scotch Ale and Velocity IPA.

Just for Fun

Red Arrow Park’s ice rink is a winter-time tradition in Milwaukee. So put on your ice skates, hat and mittens then hit this “slice of ice.” You’ll feel like a kid again walking through the BMO Harris Bank downtown on Water Street for a look at its annual Holiday Display of whimsical Steiff stuffed animals dressed for the holidays.

Celebrating the holidays in Milwaukee

In December, the Milwaukee Ballet presents The Nutcracker, which has been brightening Wisconsin’s holiday season since the 1970s. If ballet is not for you, maybe the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame & Museum will be. This museum hosts the world’s largest collection of bobbleheads and features dozens of exhibits related to the history of these nodding creatures.

Family Free Days are regular occurrences at the Milwaukee County Zoom, held one Saturday per month between October and March. Kids – and the young at heart – will love seeing their favorite animals and taking part in fun activities and exhibits. Also in December, zoo visitors can enjoy a weekend Breakfast and Lunch with Santa. Sit down and enjoy a meal with Mr. and Mrs. Claus to get ready for a wonderful holiday season.

To start planning your holidays in Milwaukee or for more group tour ideas, visit www.visitmilwaukee.org/groups.


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