Festive lights, traditional fare, and more makes Brew City holidays bright

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

Lights, Lights, and More Lights

 China Lights returns to 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.

Milwaukee shines 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. 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.

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.

 Christkindlmarket Milwaukee is a perfect day activity for winter visitors. Located on the plaza outside of Fiserv Forum, the traditional German market offers numerous food and shopping vendors as well as family-friendly activities for an experience straight out of Deutschland.

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.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Milwaukee Ballet. In December, the ballet presents The Nutcracker, which has been brightening Wisconsin’s holiday season for over 40 years. If ballet is not for you, maybe the brand new 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 Zoo, and there happens to be one Dec. 7 just in time for the holidays. 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 Breakfast and Lunch with Santa. Sit down and enjoy a meal with Mr. and Mrs. Claus to get ready for a wonderful holiday season.

For more Milwaukee group tour ideas, visit https://www.visitmilwaukee.org/bringing-a-group/